On October 5th, in an exposé from The New York Times, it was uncovered that Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men working in Hollywood, has been sexually harassing and abusing female actors, assistants and other women working alongside him for decades and has paid them off to shut them up.
Weinstein resigned from his own company the next day, releasing a statement to the New York Times saying, “I am trying to do better, but I know I have a long way to go.” A statement which in itself is problematic, as Harvey Weinstein is making misogynistic abuse of power and serious cases of sexual harassment seem like an accidental character glitch instead of a conscious choice made by a grown, powerful man.
In the days following there has been a storm on social media and in the media, from The Daily Beast and CNN to ultra right-wing news platform Breitbart, surrounding Hollywood’s silence in the aftermath of the Weinstein reveal. A majority of this storm has been, not surprisingly, focused on condemning the female actors, media insiders and politicians (e.g. Hillary Clinton) associated with Harvey Weinstein for not speaking out. This highlights how deep the sexist streams run in our society. One of the most powerful men in an industry turns out to be a male misogynist pig and sexual harasser, but the women he’s worked with or has interacted with professionally are the ones who become guilty by association, and are furthermore the ones to blame for not letting the world know about this sooner.
But on Monday morning, Meryl Streep, arguably the most influential actress working right now, broke that silence and used her grit and grace once again to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, and in support of the women he has been harassing. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Streep condemned Weinstein’s behavior as “inexcusable” and said that the “the intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes." She also highlighted that “not everybody knew” about Weinstein’s behavior, and that she specifically did not know “about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts." She also encouraged more people to come forward and raise their voices by saying, “each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Streep's statement comes a few days after actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan stepped forward after the original report to the New York Times, detailing how Weinstein had sexually abused and harassed them in various ways. On Sunday, Ashley Judd tweeted a thank you-note in response to writer Anne T. Donahue, who sparked a conversation as she encouraged women to speak out about when they met their "Harvey Weinstein." That same day, Rose McGowan told The Hollywood Reporter, "Men in Hollywood need to change ASAP. Hollywood’s power is dying because society has changed and grown, and yet Hollywood male behavior has not."
More actresses, including Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Patricia Arquette, Amber Tamblyn, Brie Larson, and Lena Dunham, have released statements and tweets calling out Weinstein's actions and showing support for Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and the many other women affected.
All of these women are using their powerful voices and are stepping out on the forefront of holding powerful men accountable for their actions, and are hopefully paving the way for many more brave voices speak up in the days, and weeks, to come.
Top photo: NBC News screenshot
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Amanda Brohman is a 23-year old editorial intern at BUST, a freelance writer, blogger and fashion journalism student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She loves everything that glitters, taking long walks in and around her SoHo neighborhood, and drinking Chardonnay on her fire escape at midnight whilst listening to Halsey.