When the topic of sexual abuse among the powerful comes up, the implied model is often something like this:
But a more cynical interpretation looks more like this:
In a culture with attenuated morals and little explicit hierarchy, sexual license becomes a marker of status, not just a perquisite of it. In a setting like Hollywood where making things happen relies on being important, and being important relies on people thinking you’re important (and so on- it’s a Keynesian beauty contest) outrageous behavior feeds the perception of untouchability and power, which is what producers use to put movies together. A code of silence orients people towards the institution and away from the outside world, helping the powerful within it. Knowing that someone has skeletons in his closet makes other institutional actors trust him to be loyal. People who have been victimized may work to further their abuser’s career or enable his abuse of others, now that they are tied to him.
It seems at times that as our society levels and razes more and more mediating institutions, and as the all seeing eye of media attention disfavors groups with an inward-facing identity, those that persist and retain power are not those more egalitarian or open, but those in which implicit hierarchies and internal loyalties are most strong- that is, where the propensities towards abuse are greatest.