They’ve had it up to here, and they’re not going to take it anymore. Gone are the days of keeping quiet and hoping it will all go away—today’s women aren’t afraid to take a stand against sexual harassment and call out their alleged predators.
Most notably this week were the allegations leveled against media mogul Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company as an article in The New York Times went to print. The story alleges that several women under the employ of Weinstein, including actress Ashley Judd who was at the time shooting the 90s film “Kiss the Girls,” were paid to keep quiet about the hostile work environment to which Weinstein was exposing them.
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In one case, Judd recalls being invited to Weinstein’s hotel for what she presumed would be a business meeting over breakfast. The actress was instead sent to Weinstein’s hotel room where he met her in a bathrobe and gave her the choice between giving him a massage or watching him shower. “Here I was a declared feminist, yet I did not recognize at the time what was happening to me, said Judd. “It took years before I could evaluate that incident and realize there was something incredibly wrong and illegal about it.”
Weinstein is accused of repeating the behavior toward two different women at the same hotel—Emily Nestor had only been with The Weinstein Company one day in 2014 when Weinstein allegedly said he could advance her career if she accepted his sexual advances. And a female assistant in 2015 reportedly left the company of Weinstein “crying and very distraught” after he demanded she massage him while he was naked. Said Lauren O’ Connor, the assistant’s colleague who penned a memo to Weinstein company executives, “there is a toxic environment for women at this company.”
The New York Times investigation found documents going back as far as three decades accusing Weinstein of inappropriate behavior with current and former employees both at The Weinstein Company and Miramax, the company he founded and ran from 1979 to 1993 when it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. The report further found that Weinstein “reached at least eight settlements” with women who accused him of sexual harassment.
Though Weinstein’s response to The New York Times — “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it”—appears apologetic, his defense lawyer, Lisa Bloom, daughter of feminist-rights attorney Gloria Allred says Weinstein “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
Breaking News: Lisa Bloom resigns as defense attorney for Harvey Weinstein.
There is already plenty of fallout stemming from the charges against Weinstein—Weinstein himself has taken a leave of absence, three board members of The Weinstein Company have resigned, and the remaining leaders of the company Bob Weinstein and David Glasser have hired an outside law firm to investigate the victim’s claims.
In the wake of the accusations against Weinstein, many women have come forward this week to share stories of sexual harassment, including two women who accuse another media giant of creating a hostile work environment.
Andy Signore, creator of the You Tube “Honest Trailers” series was taken to task on Twitter by two former employees. Emma Bower, who was interning for Signore at the time, said on that “the @screenjunkies guy wanted to jack off in front of me.” April Dawn has been in talks with the Screen Junkies human resources department for months, noting that “Andy Signore tried to sexually assault me on multiple occasions.” She writes that Signore threatened her boyfriend’s employment, saying “he would fire him if I told anyone,” and that Signore “took out sex toys and tried to force them in me.”
And yesterday, Lauren Sivan's experience with Weinstein was made public in The Huffington Post, where Sivan explained that while employed as a local newscaster in New York she was “trapped by Weinstein’s body” and forced to watch him masturbate. At one point Weinstein leaned in to kiss her; when she rebuked his advances Sivan says Weinstein told her to “stand there and shut up.”
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The 21st century women who suffer from any form of harassment are showing the world that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated on their watch. They know they have, as actress Ambler Tamblyn wrote on Twitter, “Everything. To. Lose. By. Coming. forward,” but they continue to stand up and speak out. “It’s not fun or easy,” said Lena Dunham. “It’s brave.”
Sources: Variety, The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter