How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?-Ashley Judd remembers thinking at what was supposed to be a ‘business breakfast meeting’ with the producer at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel.
Nearly two decades ago a young Ashley Judd having arrived at the hotel for a meeting was made an offer that was far from professional. In 2014, Emily Nestor who had just begun working as a temporary employee was invited to the same hotel and made a similar offer: Harvey Weinstein would boost her career in exchange for her acceptance of his sexual advances.
Three weeks ago, Judd came forward; speaking of her experience. After which, over two dozen celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevigne and Game of Thrones star Lena Headey came forward with similar allegations against Weinstein; bringing to light a side of the movie mogul that had been silently co-signed for years by those working and collaborating with him.
THE “ME TOO” CAMPAIGN
Following the allegations against the producer, “Me too” (originated in 2007 by Tarana Burke of Just be inc.) was recently re-popularized by actress Alyssa Milano and called anyone who has been a victim of sexual harassment/assault to voice their experience; in an attempt to not only encapsulate the enormity of the issue but reach out to others that have been in a similar situation.
To say the response was overwhelming, would be an understatement. The post got over 12 million Facebook posts and comments in 24 hours and 53,000 retweets of Milano’s post in 48 hours.
Has the campaign made a difference?
The manner in which “me too” took over the internet, undoubtedly drew a significant amount of attention to the weight of the matter. In addition to the momentum gained by this movement, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted “well in excess of the required two-thirds majority” to expel Harvey Weinstein.
Although this may seem like a step forward in terms of ending the ‘casting couch’ culture and improving the situation of those victimized, here is why it is unlikely that the cards are stacked in their favour:
Weinstein is only the second member of the Academy to have been expelled (following Carmine Caridi in 2004) and the very first on the grounds of sexual harassment.
Even in the situation that Weinstein (rightfully)faces the repercussions of his actions, the fact of the matter is that he is not the first/only member to be involved in such.
When claims that Woody Allen harassed his seven-year-old daughter Dylan Farrow arose, the prosecutor in an attempt to “protect the little girl” decided against charging Allen; although there was probable cause. In spite of the statements from Dylan and other eyewitness accounts being given, the chance of a fair trial seemed dim.
in 2014 Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter describing the repugnant events that haunt her to this day. In 2017, Woody Allen is still a sought-after filmmaker. R Kelly and Roman Polanski(to name a few) escaped criminal consequences in a similar manner and continue to thrive in the industry today.
The use of power to silence men and women that have been sexually harassed in their workplace is as likely to eventuate at fast food joints down your street and companies you hear of every day as it is in Hollywood. The same goes for households. An individual you regularly associate is as likely to be a victim as every celebrity that was harassed by Weinstein. Just as it occurred back in Roscoe Arbuckle’s time (Arbuckle was cleared after three trials), it continues to happen across the globe in the majority of industries every day and most often than not, silence is the only response to the issue. This is increasingly common with –
1. Victims being harassed/threatened by the individual they are (financially) dependent on.
2. Unharmed individuals remaining silent(in an attempt to avoid being involved entirely) although they are aware of such acts taking place in their surrounding.
As for the latter, it is arguable that a proportion of such individuals are powerless in a sense. They are likely to be as dependent on the superior for their source of income. The rest comprise of those who simply refrain from involving themselves in such matters despite the fact that they may be in possession of the prerequisite for a breakthrough- power. Hence the reinforcement of a culture in which exploitation is conveniently waved off. Although reprehensibly accepted as so very commonly in the ‘couch culture’ for example, exploitation of an individual is never the price to pay.
In a world where ignorance and the severity of coercion prevent huge names from speaking out; for as long as 20 years, one cannot begin to comprehend how far away from social justice, individuals working blue collar jobs stand.