Women Who Spoke Out About Sexual Harassment in Hollywood
Recently, a number of Hollywood actresses courageously came out with their personal stories of sexual assault by the hands of the famous film producer, Harvey Weinstein. Although many women have raised their voices in unity against the producer, it is absolutely wrong to believe that this is an isolated incident attributed to one misogynistic man.
In the entertainment industry, the so-called culture of “casting couch” is still heartbreakingly very common. Despite efforts to break this repulsive practice, many women in Hollywood and other industries are still faced with the degrading approaches of men in power. With accusations against Harvey gaining momentum, women all over the world, including celebrities, are sharing #MeToo on social media to let the world know that they have been, at one point or the other in their lives, a victim of some form of sexual abuse. Not only women but a handful of men have also joined in on the hashtag, sharing their stories of harassment.
Let us take a look at all the women, and a few men, who have spoken up about their experiences with respect to different forms of sexual harassment in Hollywood. Hopefully, their stories will shed light on just how common such cases are, and having a public discussion will contribute to the disintegration of such a patriarchal culture.
- Ashley Judd
A famous actress who has starred in many blockbusters, Ashley Judd was one of the first women to come out with her allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. She said that she was just 20 years old when she was invited by Weinstein to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. She had thought that it was for a breakfast business meeting but when she reached, she was called up to his suite. He was wearing just a bathrobe; he asked her if she could watch him while he was showering. Feeling uncomfortable, she immediately thought of ways she could leave the room without alienating him.
On coming out with her story, she said that it was time to discuss Harvey’s actions in public as women in Hollywood have been talking about it in private for far too long.
- Rose McGowan
Rose McGowan, along with Ashley Judd was the first among many women to speak out against Harvey’s deplorable actions. In 1997, she reportedly reached a $100,000 settlement with Harvey, on account of an incident in a hotel room at the Sundance Film Festival. During this time, McGowan was just 23 years old and her hit movie “Scream” had just come out the previous year and her career was just starting to take off.
- Cara Delevingne
British model and actress Cara Delevingne recently came out with her traumatic experience with Harvey through an Instagram post. She said that she had attended a meeting with him and a director in a hotel lobby. After the director left, Harvey asked her to stay and talk for some more time. He apparently started bragging about all the women he had slept with and later asked her to join him in his room. She declined, but as her car was not outside, she was told by Harvey’s assistant that she should go to his room. “I felt very powerless and scared,” she said. When she entered the room, another woman was there, whom he suggested she should kiss. Cara somehow managed to leave the room after Harvey tried to kiss her on the lips.
- Lea Seydoux
French actress Lea Seydoux, famous for her role in “Blue is the Warmest Color”, has claimed that Harvey once jumped on her and tried to kiss her on her mouth while they were sitting on a sofa and talking after a Paris fashion show back in 2012. She said that since he was a big and fat guy, she had to defend herself and even had to use force to resist him. She then left the room, disgusted at his behavior. She added that she has seen him on many occasions after that night “testing women to see what he can get away with”.
- Gwyneth Paltrow
When Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow was just 22 years old, she was cast as the leading role in “Emma” by Harvey Weinstein, the hit movie which was an adaptation of Jane Austen. She shared her story with The New York Times, saying that she was called to Weinstein’s hotel room, and when she reached there, he put his hands on her and asked her to give him a massage. She refused. She said that the experience petrified her. She later told her boyfriend at the time, Brad Pitt, and Brad confronted Harvey. The film producer soon contacted her, asking her not to tell anyone.
- Angelina Jolie
Another Hollywood A-list actress who came out with her story of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein is none other than Angeline Jolie. In the 1990s, Harvey made sexual advances toward Angelina. She rejected and because of this traumatic experience when she was still young, she never worked with the producer again. She said that she even warned anyone she knew working with him.
- Lena Headey
The Game of Thrones actress claims that she has been sexually harassed by Weinstein more than once in the past. She recently said on Twitter that on a business meeting, she was walking with him when he made a “suggestive comment, a “gesture”. Shocked and at a loss for words, she simply laughed it off. But ever since that incident, she never worked with him again.
- Reese Witherspoon
The famous actress came out with her story of sexual abuse at Elle Women of Hollywood which was held just recently. In light of the many accusations against Harvey Weinstein, she said that she had her own experiences of sexual assault which she remembers vividly, and memories of these have made it difficult for her to think, sleep, and communicate. When she was 16, she was assaulted by a director and after that, has experienced many incidents of sexual assault. She expressed her grief and anger about the fact that women are told to sweep these things under the rug, and that all these women coming out with their stories made her feel less alone than she has ever felt in her entire career.
- America Ferrera
The “Ugly Betty” star also posted on her Instagram account her story of how she was sexually abused as a child. She said that when she was just 9 years old, she was abused by a man who she had to see regularly for the next few years, and he would act like nothing happened, smiling and waving at her. She lived with the guilt and shame for many years as she felt she was responsible for the man’s filthy actions.
- Evan Rachel Wood
In 2016, the Hollywood star shared on Twitter two instances of sexual harassment she encountered – first by her ex-boyfriend and second, by a bar owner. She has been a strong advocate of sexual assault victims’ rights ever since. She said she has not named her attackers yet because the whole process of dealing with any form of sexual assault is extremely draining- physically, emotionally, and financially.
- Molly Ringwald
The actress said that she was able to avoid the sexual approaches when she was dealing with Harvey Weinstein. But she has had her fair share of unwanted sexual approaches from men ever since she was just a young girl. When she was thirteen, a much older crew member who was about 50, pushed against her with his erection, saying that he was going to teach her how to dance. And when she was only 14 years old, a film director who was married kissed her on her mouth while they were on a set.
- Jennifer Lawrence
At the Elle Women Of Hollywood ceremony where Reese Witherspoon shared her story, another actress, Jennifer Lawrence also opened up about her experiences of abuse in Hollywood. She said that many directors and film producers degraded and humiliated her when she was just starting out, telling her to lose “15 pounds in 2 weeks”. She said that around the same time, a female producer made her do a nude lineup where she was standing with five other women, with nothing but paste-ons covering their private parts.
- Lady Gaga
In 2014, Lady Gaga, one of the most famous singers, came out with her story of how she was raped by a record producer when she was only 19 years old and still “very naive”. She revealed on The Howard Stern Show that a famous song of hers called “Swine” was about this particular incident of sexual abuse she experienced.
Singer Kesha, in 2014, sued her then producer, Dr. Luke for physically, verbally, emotionally, and sexually abusing her the whole time she had been working with him. Shortly after, Dr. Luke countersued her. As the case went on, many celebrities and fans showed their support for the female artist and she has actively been speaking out against sexual assault ever since.
- Martha Stewart
Even Martha Stewart has decided to come forward and speak about her own experiences of sexual assault when she was younger. When she was just 16, she was instructed to wear a bikini under her clothes before entering a room in an ad agency where a group of men was sitting around a table. She was then told to take off her clothes, and when she asked if she was supposed to wear a bikini in the commercial, the answer she received was shocking. The men told her that they “might as well see what she looked like” as long as she was there. She had the courage to say that was not what she came for and left the room.
16. Jenny Slate
Actress and comedian Jenny Slate shared #MeToo on Twitter, saying that she has not publicly shared her story till now because she was afraid that she would be blamed for her sense of humor, and the people who knew about it did exactly what she was afraid of.
17. Felicia Day
Singer and actress Felicia Day also expressed on Twitter that she has encountered sexual harassment, and not just in Hollywood. She said that on retrospection, she had to deal with such unwanted sexual advances when she was younger and naive.
18. Gabrielle Union
Actress Gabrielle Union said on a recent appearance on Good Morning America that when she was only 19 years old, she was raped at gunpoint. She has been very open about her sexual assault experiences, saying that she will continue fighting many misconceptions of sexual violence including putting the blame and shaming the victim.