‘Believe Women’

Powerhouse lawyer for Harvey Weinstein calls herself a ‘proud’ feminist, says #MeToo has reached dangerous point

Blair Berk (REUTERS/Mel Melcon/The Los Angeles Times/Pool )

Blair Berk is a powerhouse Hollywood lawyer who has defended Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan and CeeLo Green, among other A-list Hollywood stars. Recently, she joined the legal team representing disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as he faces charges of rape and criminal sex acts. She gave a rare interview this week in which she characterized herself as a feminist while unleashing a torrent of criticism on the #MeToo movement, which she said “has reached a disturbing and dangerous” point, as the article puts it.

“As a feminist, in terms of sexual harassment, in terms of misconduct, even, that’s a conversation we should have,” said Berk in an interview with Israeli paper Haaretz, according to a translation from Hebrew by the monthly magazine Forward. “But these are very complicated conversations because human interactions — sexuality, sexual contact, is on a continuum. But while it’s unacceptable or not allowed of us — in a workplace for instance — someone with more power to abuse their power by being vulgar or boorish? Or putting their hand on a woman when it’s not wanted, it’s important not to conflate it with rape,” the lawyer said.

“Everyone of those acts is not rape,” Berk continued. “Every one of those acts is not a crime. It is definitely something we should be talking about, but it’s not necessarily something we should criminalize.”

When the interviewer pointed out that more than 80 women had come forward with accusations against Weinstein — many of whom allege that the producer raped or sexually abused them — Berk suggested that many women pursue relationships with powerful men because they “offered them something they wanted — a promotion, or a Golden Globe.”

Moving on from the uncomfortable reality of the accusations against her client, the lawyer continued by saying that she hated “this horrible slogan, ‘Believe Women,’” because it implied that only women “ever [speak] the truth” — seemingly ignoring the fact that the slogan was meant to draw attention to an ingrained cultural trend in which women’s accounts of sexual abuse are routinely disbelieved.

“I’m very proud of what I do. As a woman, as a feminist, as a criminal attorney. My first love is the Constitution, and at the end of the day, it’s more important to defend someone and preserve the Constitution than to be popular,” said Berk, whose other clients include a veritable laundry list of celebrities and other powerbrokers. “I believe in the importance of my work and in the right to a fair trial.”

Read coverage of the story at Newsweek and the full interview at The Forward.


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