As more and more women speak out against the gross men who use their power to take advantage of other people in what seems like every single industry, it has been heartening to see the solidarity shown to survivors who choose to tell their stories. The list of Harvey Weinstein's accusers has grown to over 30 women, as well as other men in Hollywood being drawn into the scandal, like Ben Affleck and Weinstein's brother, Bob.
At ELLE's Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, Jennifer Lawrence became one of the latest stars to reveal the harassment she has suffered in the movie industry. According to ELLE, she spoke of being objectified and feeling powerless and trapped. "A female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me," she explained of one incident. "And we all stood side-by-side with only paste-ons covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet. I asked to speak to a producer about the unrealistic diet regime and he responded by telling me he didn't know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly 'fuckable.'"
At the same Women in Hollywood event, actor and producer Reese Witherspoon also spoke up about a director who assaulted her when she was 16 years old. "I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate," she said. "[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t." Her full speech was published by ELLE here.
Stories of sexual harassment and assault have flooded the Internet in recent days as part of the “#metoo” campaign that actor Alyssa Milano brought to prominence on Sunday night. The idea for the campaign started with activist Tarana Burke much earlier, who began the campaign in 2007. While it is extremely depressing that women need to expose their own trauma to get the wider world to take notice, here's hoping that these allegations lead to a deeper understanding of the systemic nature of sexual harassment, and a concerted effort by powerful men to stop it from happening ever again.
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Molly McLaughin is a writer who likes pizza, politics and poetry. In that order. She tweets at @mollysgmcl.