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Firing of Weinstein a shift in culture regarding sexual harassment?

It’s gratifying to learn that powerful Hollywood producer and mogul Harvey Weinstein has been fired from his own company following charges of sexual harassment. His lewd behaviour, which allegedly included luring a female TV  journalist downstairs at a New York City restaurant, cornering her and then masturbating in front of her, is said to have continued for decades.

For far too long, the Hollywood entertainment industry has condoned this kind of behaviour through silence and lack of recriminations or repercussions. (How it portrays such actions in films is a whole other story.) We’ve all heard of the long-standing  “casting couch” tradition. I remember reading in the book Why I Write how one Hollywood producer harassed a female screenwriter. After he agreed to make a movie from her script, she was delighted and accepted an invitation to his party. As she was coming down the stairs, she felt something under her shirt. He had gone behind her, shoved his hands under her shirt, and put them on her breasts! And he claimed this was just a friendly way to say hello.

It is reported that high-profile clients threatened to pull their projects unless Weinstein resigned or left the company. When he refused to resign, board members, including his own brother, signed a document to have him fired. It seems that too often, companies won’t act on sexual harassment complaints unless they face legal action or potential loss of revenue. “Doing what’s right” and running a respectful, ethical operation still aren’t motives enough for many places to take action.

But this latest move shows that at last, some folks are taking women’s accusations seriously. Kudos to The Weinstein Company for turfing the bum. I hope this is a sign that the culture of collective silence on sexual abuse and harassment has shifted. Every victim who speaks out, whether it’s within a family or at a top company, helps break that code of silence and empower the next woman to name her accuser.

It saddens me to discover that Weinstein is accused of sexually harassing stars such as Ashley Judd, who until now, has remained silent on the issue. I’ve read her memoir and she dealt with incest as a teen. As a vocal humanitarian and feminist, she has met with world leaders and spoken out against sexual slavery and women and children in poverty. If she was unwilling to go public with her story, that shows the unbelievable power that someone like Weinstein had in his industry.

I’ve followed his career for decades and admired Miramax’s entrepreneurial flair and its nurturing of excellent independent films. I applauded the success of movies like The English Patient, My Left Foot, The Crying Game etc. I knew Weinstein had a reputation for verbal abuse and manic tantrums, but had no idea about the alleged harassment.

Donald Trump might be able to get away with such alleged behaviour, but I’m glad that another power-monger has finally suffered some consequences for his unacceptable actions. As they say, better late than never.

Read here the L.A. Times article that broke the story.

October 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • October 10, 2017 at 5:02 pmLynn Barker

    As a veteran of the Hollywood sexual harassment scene, this is nothing new but it takes the female victims to speak up sooner than later to get the perps ousted or at least warn other women of the situation. Thanks Heather for your astute comments.

  • October 9, 2017 at 4:23 pmStephanie Moul

    Thank you Heather for continuing to bring these issues out into the open and speaking to it. We cannot stop speaking out. And we need to stand with those who do speak out, knowing how painful and difficult it can be.

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