Elisa Segrave

Dangerous liaisons | 19 October 2017

It’s all very well to look for a man who is reliable, but if you don’t find him attractive, what’s the point?

Lothario, Don Juan, philanderer, ‘naughty’, ‘plays away’ — all terms for men who have an overwhelming drive to seduce scores of women, take no responsibility, and often get away with it. In the recent allegations about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory sexual attacks on more than 30 females, mainly actresses, whose careers seem to have depended on them being compliant, most of his victims now complain too of his physical unattractiveness. One, the Italian actor and director Asia Argento, who went on to have ‘consensual sex’ with Weinstein on and off for five years, says she was ‘a fool’. Those who have come forward with their stories and condemned Weinstein, often several years later, are being heaped with praise for their courage. A few were courageous at the time, and did report him, but were not listened to. Some accepted out-of-court financial settlements. I suppose it was thought impossible to prosecute such a powerful man. Each day we read more details of how he protected himself.

I hold no brief for Weinstein, who was clearly a bully, a sexual predator and, possibly, as various women including the actress Lysette Anthony claim, a rapist. The taped ‘sting’ (made by the New York Police Department in March 2015) of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the model who had already reported Weinstein to the police, of her fending him off, several times, in a fearful voice, is chilling to hear.

Yet isn’t there another factor not being mentioned in all this? Because Weinstein’s case is extreme — he is so demonstrably a brute and clearly abused his power in Hollywood to force himself on younger actresses — the assumption is that no one could possibly have found such a man sexy.

But sexual attraction is complex and sometimes murky, and it is surprising how even apparently strong women can fall for philanderers and abusers.

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