“In removing Weinstein from its ranks, the academy said in a statement, ‘We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.'” (The Los Angeles Times).
The above statement comes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in response to the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein, who is alleged to have used his considerable power as a producer and director in Hollywood to abuse women.
I’m satisfied that Weinstein is getting his well-deserved public humiliation and censure. However, I hope that no one witnessing his demise is under the delusion that the problem of sexual harassment and abuse of women in the workplace is over. It is especially insidious in glittering, glamorous industries like the film industry, which entices beautiful and talented young women to enter its ranks.
Because dreams of acting fame and fortune are so alluring, it can be tempting for women to override their natural self-protective instincts and cater to powerful men who claim to hold the ticket to their dream lifestyle. For women who do not have strong, solid values and support systems. as well as healthy doses of self-esteem, inner strength, and skepticism, this abuse can be especially long-lasting and traumatic.
If I had a daughter, especially one who wanted into the film industry, I wouldn’t discourage her dreams. But I would insist that she believe in her own competence. While it can be important not to burn bridges, it’s also important to know that no one person holds the key to your success – other than yourself. It’s important to know yourself well, to know what your strengths are, and to believe in what you have to offer. Then one is less inclined to fall for false promises – and more inclined to call bullshit when appropriate.
Some of the women who experienced Weinstein’s predation vowed never to work with him, and didn’t. But there is no blame for the women who were abused. There is only a warning for other women in the industry to know that there are men like this out there. You must come armed with confidence, support, and options if you want to survive. It is important for women to have each other’s backs. Predators can smell weakness and isolation a mile away.
This is why speaking up is so important. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s scary. No, it doesn’t always lead to justice. But it does put the predators on notice that they will be exposed if they insist on abusing their power.
Stay strong out there, ladies, regardless of what field you’re in.
Peace and love,