If Hollywood were to produce an updated version of the children’s fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” producer, Harvey Weinstein would be cast in the role of the wolf. In this story, however, unlike most Hollywood wolf tales the wolf finally gets what he deserves. The retelling of this wolf story is a triumph for the women who were brave enough to speak up and the industry leaders who listened and took swift action.
Recent articles appearing in the “New York Times” and “New Yorker ” magazine reported that numerous women alleged that for decades Weinstein engaged in inappropriate and assaultive behavior ranging from rape and assault to sexual harassment. The Weinstein Company also allegedly settled eight civil sexual harassment suits filed against Weinstein.
Despite his allegiance to liberal causes... he is a serial harasser whose behavior is offensive and intimidating.
Mr. Weinstein has won academy awards and produced groundbreaking films, such as: “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “The Crying Game,” “The English Patient,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Good Will Hunting” and the television show “Project Runway.” Weinstein is known to support liberal causes and women’s rights. Despite his allegiance to liberal causes, some of the actresses and female employees who have worked with Weinstein allege that he is a serial harasser whose behavior is offensive and intimidating.
Many of Weinstein’s accusers describe being invited to his hotel room for a business meeting or audition and instead being asked to give Weinstein a massage, watch him shower, or engage in some other unwanted sexual activity. Weinstein’s alleged behavior was apparently an open secret in Hollywood with actresses warning others to watch out for Weinstein.
In a statement to the “New York Times” Weinstein apologized for the pain that his behavior has caused “colleagues,” but in other statements he has denied engaging in any non-consensual sexual activity. It is also true that Weinstein has not been convicted of any sexual assaults stemming from the allegations against him.
Since the publication of the “Times” article, however, over 30 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including A-list actresses, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette.
The allegations against Weinstein follow several other well-publicized cases where prominent men in the entertainment industry have been accused of sexual misconduct. Actor-comedian, Bill Cosby, is still facing sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania stemming from an alleged assault in 2004; a prior trial resulted in a hung jury. Almost 60 women have accused Cosby of alleged sexual assaults dating back to the ’60s.
Talk show host Bill O’Reilly resigned after it was revealed that Fox News settled several sexual harassment suits filed against O’Reilly. The late Roger Ailes, Fox News CEO, was also forced to resign amid ongoing sexual harassment allegations at Fox News.
In this case, however, unlike the other high-profile cases, Weinstein has been subject to swift action by leaders in the motion picture industry. Weinstein was asked to step down from the Weinstein company that he co-founded, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that awards the Oscars, took the unprecedented step of expelling Weinstein from the Academy.
The Producers Guild of American (PGA) also voted unanimously to institute termination proceedings against Weinstein, and established an Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force to research and propose solutions to eradicate sexual harassment and abuse from the industry.
These are steps in the right direction, and the industry leaders should continue to use their tremendous power to require industry wide education on sexual harassment and protocols to encourage women to come forward and report abuse without fear of retaliation.
There is strength in numbers, and the collective voices of the accusers were eloquent and powerful...
But the real heroes of this story are the women who came forward at their own risk and made on the record statements alleging that Weinstein sexually harassed or abused them. Many of the women who spoke with reporters about the Weinstein allegations talked about their well- founded fears of the consequences of confronting someone as powerful as Weinstein. Some of the accusers reported that when they complained about Weinstein’s alleged harassing behavior certain expected professional opportunities were withdrawn or eliminated. There is strength in numbers, and the collective voices of the accusers were eloquent and powerful, and they were heard above the noise and clamor of power and privilege.
The women who have come forward to accuse powerful men such as Cosby, O’Reilly and Weinstein have demonstrated that the most effective way to eliminate sexual harassment and abuse is to speak out, speak loudly, and continue to speak out until someone hears.
In response to the Weinstein allegations, actress, Alyssa Milano, reignited a campaign on Twitter started by a victim of sexual abuse who wanted to highlight the magnitude of the issue. Milano has encouraged all survivors of sexual abuse to tweet #MeToo. Milano’s call to action has received an overwhelming response from Hollywood actors and many others. The movement has gone global and resulted in a deluge of reports of sexual harassment and abuse on Twitter. The hashtag “MeToo” has reportedly been mentioned over 1 million times on Twitter.
The message for women who have been subjected to sexual abuse or harassment is: TELL NOW, so that you can stop the abusers and prevent further abuse. And for any wolves that are still out there trolling the streets of Hollywood or Main Street America this is a warning that your days are numbered.