William Hurt was a Woman-Beating, Rapist Dirt Bag Who Got Away With It.

William Hurt was a Woman-Beating, Rapist Dirt Bag Who Got Away With It. March 18, 2022

William Hurt. Source: Flickr Creative Commons, public domain.

It turns out that the late William Hurt wasn’t much of a man. He was good-looking. There’s no denying that. And he gave compelling performances on screen.

But off-screen, he beat up the women in his life, and, according to one of them, Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, he raped them as well. Heck of a guy.

At least two of the women involved with Hurt spoke openly about the physical, verbal and emotional abuse he heaped on them. Hurt didn’t refute their claims. He didn’t have to. Our misogynist society mislabeled and trivialized what he had done for him. He paid no price for his sadistic brutality. 

These women — one of them an Oscar-winning actress — came forward with reveals that one of our much-admired public figures was in fact a violent, woman-abusing dirt bag and it was buried under what amounts to a societal blame-the-victim, call-it-something-other-than-what-it-is conspiracy to protect him. This is the way our society enables men who beat and rape women. It is how it dismisses the victims who have the courage to speak out.  

According to what I’ve read, the press and talking heads at the time — including women such as Joy Behar — dismissed Marlee Matlin’s reveal of what can only be described as Hurt’s sadistic violence and cruelty as a tempestuous relationship with “explosive sex” and Hurt as a “sensitive,” “complicated,”man of great talent who “needed” the “conflict” of beating up and raping women because it was “part of his process” to do his acting thing. I guess Hurt was too “sensitive” to go to a local bar and take on other men to get his conflict. He needed the safe-to-him “process” of beating up a woman. 

I’ve read other summaries of Hurt’s behavior that try to narrow the issue by claiming that, since Ms Matlin is deaf, the real story is the violence visited on women with disabilities. While I have no doubt that the kind of cowardly excuse for a man who would beat up a woman would also be attracted to beating up a woman who was disabled — after all, a woman with disabilities is even less able to fight back, which would suit a sadistic coward — the fact is that violence against women is ubiquitous, and William Hurt showed this. He evidently beat other women who were not disabled. 

He hit the mother of his own child while she was holding his baby.  Marlee Matlin said she had fresh bruises every day and that her coworkers chose to overlook them. I guess they did that in the same way that they overlooked it when she and another of Hurt’s partners made a public issue of his violence and cruelty. That would be in keeping with an industry that, according to former child actors, gives child rapists a pass, and that protected and coddled Harvey Weinstein for so long. 

Sadly, this tolerance of brutality and violence directed at women is not isolated to the entertainment industry. It permeates our world from top to bottom. 

We are just coming off the dark age of Donald Trump’s presidency, a man who went on talk shows and made lewd sexual comments about his own daughter that hinted at incest, who openly abused women, who was accused by dozens of women of sexual assault and rape, and who was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault. He was not only elected president despite this, but he had the fervent, sick-as-satan backing of prominent clergy and religious leaders. 

The Catholic members of the Trump-abetting clergy are part of the same clerical boys’ club that perpetrated a generational, organized, international, from-top-to-bottom and totally proven pattern of enabling the sexual abuse by their colleagues of literally thousands of children all around the world. The same bishops who’ve gone around claiming they are “sorry” for enabling, and in many cases participating in, the sexual abuse of thousands of innocent children turned right around and, without a single bit of embarrassment or concern, arrogantly demanded that their followers vote for a man for President of the United States who abused women and who was a self-confessed serial sexual predator. 

They, and the right wing Republican-owned “Catholic” media, pretty much made it a requirement for being part of the Catholic tribe. Their followers — who knew these facts very well — said Amen. 

That is how completely violence against women and rape are accepted in our society. It is so accepted that we are blind to it, and have no qualms at all about our religious leaders supporting the men who do it. Religious people can claim with straight faces that these religious leaders speak for God, and that the rapist/sexual predator is “God’s anointed” because they are ok with woman-bashing, sexual assault and rape. There is no other explanation. 

I don’t see why we should be surprised that William Hurt was able to beat and rape women and still be regarded as a “sensitive” and “complicated” man. True, his “complication” was that he was a brutal, violent batterer. But, he was also an actor who could go in front of a camera and pretend to be somebody else quite convincingly. Evidently, in the eyes of most of the world, that is excuse enough for beating up and raping the mothers of his own children. 

The terrible thing about the William Hurt story is that it is not an isolated aberration, and it is not rare. Men who abuse women get a pass in our society, and their victims have nowhere to turn, not even, or perhaps I should say especially not, to their churches.

There is no group of people who are so bereft of moral help and support when they are victimized than women. Black people have been upheld and led by black churches throughout the long history of slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow and racial hatred directed against them. That is true of oppressed minorities around the world. Except for women.

Women can not go to their churches for support when they demand human rights for themselves. If they try, they will be met with castrating attacks on their “femininity” and femaleness by churches that define womanhood according to the dictates of their desire to maintain women’s status as second-class human beings, both in the church and in the larger society. 

From Suffrage to the Equal Rights Amendment to the simple and obvious question of violence against women, women have had to go outside their faith to the secular society to find support. They have had to find the strength within themselves to either give up their faith community or become pariahs within it in order to speak out against injustice aimed at women. They’ve had to do this because all they got from their faith leaders was condemnation and hashed up phony theology that justifies and seeks to perpetuate their second-class status.

Popular culture brushed off William Hurt’s violence and brutal cruelty toward the women in his life with absurd blather about his “talent.” Stories that circulated at the time Ms Matlin made his brutality and cruelty public carried headlines such as “Crimes of the Heart,” while calling the sadistic treatment of Ms Matlin a “passionate and tumultuous” relationship. 

Hurt could pretend to be somebody else on camera and make people in the audience believe it while they were watching the movie. That was the “genius” that supposedly justified raping and beating the women in his life. 

Donald Trump didn’t even have that going for him. He was a race-baiting, corrupt, lying, cheat from day one. His cruelty and craziness were out front and undeniable. He was and is one of the most repulsive human beings I have ever witnessed. 

I have thought for a long time about the reason so many clergy supported him. I think they did it because he is a racist, corrupt, lying, woman-hating thug. They knew that they were using spiritual blackmail to force their followers to support a moral ingrate. Trump never hid it. He took the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount and mocked them to the point of repudiation, and these clergy backed and excused him.

William Hurt beat up and raped the women in his life. When they accused him publicly, he didn’t bother to refute their claims. He didn’t have to. 

The reason he didn’t have to is because the evil of misogyny, the depraved sins of rape and violence against women, are basically ok with most of the power brokers in our society, including — or perhaps I should say especially — our faith leaders.  


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