By Emily Santiago-Molina
Harvey Weinstein, famous film producer and former studio director, has climbed to the top of the Hollywood industry after years of going after what he wants, including women. However, instead of respectfully addressing the women who worked for him, Weinstein used his power to sexually harass these female stars and employees, and later made sure they couldn’t say anything to get him in trouble. But finally, these victims have come forward to shine a spotlight on Weinstein and the horrible acts he has committed against them.
On October 5, The New York Times published an article addressing Weinstein’s constant misdeeds of paying off all his harassment accusers, during his time as producer and co-chair of the Weinstein company, created by him and his brother Bob Weinstein. After a NY Times investigation into these numerous accusations, they found years of evidence pointing to several cases and documents that had never been revealed publicly. Actress Ashley Judd and employee Emily Nestor are the two women whose experiences are shared in this article, finally revealing the inappropriate gestures and requests he made to them. Their stories and many other documented interviews carried the same basic storyline and series of events that were typical of a Weinstein encounter.
Throughout the following week, more actresses stepped up to accuse Weinstein of harassment and assault, and to stand by their fellow female victims. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan and many others have come forward to bring more attention to the scandal of the Hollywood producer. In each instance, Weinstein would usually bring an actress or a female employee into a private space, where they could be alone to discuss certain details or plans, as he would then undress and put on a single robe to propose sexual activities or favors. The women who have stepped up admit that in those instances, they felt powerless and confused because of the position of power he was in. These interactions usually took place at the start of their careers or during the first few weeks of their new job, where they experienced the threat of losing said position. The environment at the Weinstein Company, or any place he patrolled, became a hazardous environment for any woman working for him to be in.
While Weinstein has been under heavy fire, several celebrities have been questioned for their work with the producer and their knowledge about such actions. Big names like George Clooney and Ben Affleck have said they had no idea about his behavior, while still being investigated and accused of their silence surrounding their involvement with Weinstein. Matt Damon has been thrashed over his statement claiming that men should be better at looking out for women because of their sisters or daughters, running over the fact that all women should be protected from rape and assault simply by the fact that they are human.
Even though the world continues to be a twisted place, many of his associates, and Hollywood in general, remain silent in the light of his scandal. And the industry has gotten pretty good at keeping others silent over the years. Twitter temporarily banned actress Rose McGowan from her account for writing furiously about the misconduct of Weinstein and criticizing Ben Affleck’s apology, then posting on Instagram for people to be her voice since her platform had been taken away.
Since the multiple accusations of sexual conduct and the rising cry against Weinstein, his company’s board of directors fired him on Oct 9. While this is a huge step for the company and a possible win for women, the fact that Weinstein has been getting away with his despicable actions and still managed to succeed in the industry, despite all of the allegations and testimonies against him, is simply infuriating. Women should not have to worry about going to work in fear of their male superiors taking advantage of them simply because of their higher rank. Although I am grateful that one of the industry’s top dogs has been taken down, there is still so much work to do to make sure women are always in a safe position to speak up when they are hurt, and not pressured to live in silence for decades.