Stars speak up about Harvey Weinstein’s abuse

Harrassed: So far at least 29 women have spoken about his inappropriate behaviour towards them.

Should we be surprised that one of Hollywood’s top producers got away with abusing women for so long? After decades of silence, his victims have begun to talk — and the world is listening.

“I know that everybody — I mean everybody — in Hollywood knows that it’s happening,” Emma de Caunes told The New Yorker. “He’s not even really hiding... But everyone’s too scared to say anything.”

Not any more.

De Caunes was discussing Harvey Weinstein, a top Hollywood film producer. She said that he brought her to his hotel room in 2010, and then appeared naked in front of her. She left before anything else happened — but several women have told similar stories with different endings.

Until last week, Weinstein was a respected and powerful figure in the film industry; he has been thanked in more Oscar speeches than anyone else in history.

But last Thursday, an explosive New York Times article detailed several accusations of sexual harassment, and Weinstein’s world fell apart. On Sunday, he was fired from his own company. On Monday his wife left him. On Tuesday, he was condemned by Barack and Michelle Obama. Yesterday, he was suspended from BAFTA.

The floodgates have opened; more and more women are coming forward to tell their horror stories, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. On Tuesday this week, The New Yorker accused him of raping three women.

Weinstein has apologised for his behaviour towards many of his accusers. He said that he is “trying to do better”, although a spokesperson has since denied the allegations of rape.

Meanwhile, the row around him is consuming Hollywood. Many of the women involved say they told many people about what happened, and yet nothing was done. Some of Weinstein’s employees have admitted to knowing about, and enabling, his behaviour. The actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez even worked with the police to record Weinstein admitting to groping her in 2015 — but Manhattan’s District Attorney did not press charges.

Yesterday, Matt Damon denied that “we all knew” what was happening. If he had seen something, he said, he would have stopped it.

What now?

Holly-won’t

One of the most surprising things about this story, say some, is how long it took to break. Journalists said they tried to report it, but did not have enough evidence. Women told their friends, complained to his colleagues, and went to the police. Rumours swirled. And yet nothing happened. Of course Weinstein should be condemned; but Hollywood should also take a long hard look at itself.

It is not so surprising, argue others. Weinstein was a rich and powerful man. He had a lot of friends, including former presidents. He was able to make or break people’s careers. Speaking out against someone like that takes an incredible amount of bravery. Only now, after other powerful men have been exposed, are the scales tipping. We should all keep tipping them.

You Decide

  1. Are you surprised by the accusations against a top Hollywood producer?
  2. Apart from Weinstein himself, is anyone to blame for the scandal?

Activities

  1. Design a poster which raises awareness about sexual harrassment, and advises people on how to stop it.
  2. In groups, write and perform a scene from a film inspired by the aftermath of this scandal.

Some People Say...

“Staying silent about a crime is just as bad as committing it.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
At the time of publication, 29 women have spoken publicly about Weinstein’s behaviour towards them. The accusations range from stories where women were left “uncomfortable” by his words, to accusations of rape. Some of the women chose to remain anonymous. Weinstein has denied any incidents of non-consensual sex.
What do we not know?
What will happen next. Weinstein is currently in “counselling” and his former company says it will co-operate fully with any police investigation. However, we do not know whether any of the women involved are planning to press charges against him. We also do not know whether Hollywood will give him the “second chance” he says that he would like one day, or whether his career is truly over.

Word Watch

Harvey Weinstein
The producer or executive producer of dozens of films including Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, and The King’s Speech.
Own company
The Weinstein Company was founded by Harvey and his brother Bob in 2005. Harvey Weinstein was fired by its board on Sunday, after three board members had resigned two days before. It says it is now considering changing its name.
Condemned
Weinstein was a major donor to the Democratic Party and supported several liberal causes. The Obamas said they were “disgusted” by the reports about him.
BAFTA
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Enabling
For example, female assistants or executives have admitted to attending meetings with Weinstein and then leaving him alone with an actress.
District Attorney
Also known as a DA, this is a lawyer who leads the prosecution on behalf of the US state government in criminal cases. At the time, the DA’s office said it had taken the case “seriously” but “a criminal charge is not supported”.
Other
Notable examples include actor Bill Cosby, Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes, and US president Donald Trump.

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