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The Women Of Hollywood Speak Against Harvey Weinstein, But What’s Stopping The Men?

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Actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe apparently helped suppress a 2004 exposé on the alleged sexual harassment accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Further, while many actresses, including Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep and others, have issued statements of support for the survivor of the assaults, and have condemned Weinstein, most of the men in Hollywood barring a few exceptions, have been silent.

According to The Guardian, they had reached out to around 20 male actors and directors who have worked with Weinstein but they declined to comment on the issue.

“The Guardian reached out to representatives of actors who have starred in Weinstein films, including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Colin Firth, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Crowe, George Clooney and Ewan McGregor, along with the directors Tarantino, Russell, Ryan Coogler, Tom Hooper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michael Moore, Rob Marshall, Robert Pulcini, Garth Davis, Doug McGrath, John Madden, Simon Curtis, Kevin Williamson, Martin Scorsese, John Hillcoat and John Wells.

None so far have commented, despite the fact that many have previously been vocal about gender equality in the industry and other social justice causes.”

Particularly worrying is the role supposedly played by one of the most powerful Hollywood stars, Matt Damon.

A report in the Vulture says that The New York Times, which broke the Harvey Weinstein story, had earlier cut a 2004 report by a journalist Sharon Waxman, under pressure from Damon and other Hollywood stars. Sharon, who started The Wrap, was earlier working with The NYT, and had travelled to Europe to uncover the series of sexual harassments and assaults committed allegedly by Weinstein. She says, writing in The Wrap,

“The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.

I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.”

This comes on the back of questions and comments that ask why, if it was known Weinstein was a serial abuser, no one else spoke up. From Sharon’s report in The Wrap, it is clear that powerful stars and media houses colluded to suppress the story.

Actress Rose McGowan, one of the many women who survived Weinstein and who settled outside court with the producer a while back, has been rallying Hollywood celebrities on Twitter. In particular, she called out Damon for his role in suppressing the Sharon Waxman report and has called for the complete dissolution of the Miramax/Weinstein board.

 

Actress Jessica Chastain said the news of Damon’s complicity in suppressing the reports “heart shattering.” She also called out the men of Hollywood to come out in support.

 

 

Amol Rajan, the media editor of the BBC, says,

“The painful fact is, many, many people were aware of Weinstein’s behaviour for years. He was, as the saying goes, hiding in plain sight, no doubt protected to some extent by his friendships with famous people and his ability to hand out internships to the likes of Malia Obama (who as far as we know was treated with the utmost civility). That he was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton will have done him little harm, too.

Weinstein was the kind of man who used his power to be a gateway to both financial riches and fame: he controlled access to huge audiences, with all the money that can bring. If some of the claims made by actresses are true, it may be that Weinstein was – unforgivably – allowed to get away with it because of his power. Not just his power to make people very rich; also, his power to make them very famous.”

 

Meanwhile, in a statement to Variety.com, actress Kate Winslet said that Weinstien’s conduct was “disgraceful and appalling”. Kate said,

“The fact that these women are starting to speak out about the gross misconduct of one of our most important and well regarded film producers, is incredibly brave and has been deeply shocking to hear. The way Harvey Weinstein has treated these vulnerable, talented young women is NOT the way women should ever EVER deem to be acceptable or commonplace in ANY workplace.

“I have no doubt that for these women this time has been, and continues to be extremely traumatic. I fully embrace and salute their profound courage, and I unequivocally support this level of very necessary exposure of someone who has behaved in reprehensible and disgusting ways. His behaviour is without question disgraceful and appalling and very, very wrong. I had hoped that these kind of stories were just made up rumours, maybe we have all been naïve. And it makes me so angry. There must be ‘no tolerance’ of this degrading, vile treatment of women in ANY workplace anywhere in the world.”

Winslet’s statement at least acknowledges the silence of the many powerful people in the industry, and hopes that things will change.

Actress Glenn Close also issued a statement, in which she said she was angry, especially because she had heard rumours of Weinstein’s behaviour earlier, but did not acknowledge those.

She said, “I’m sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.

I’m angry, not just at him and the conspiracy of silence around his actions, but also that the “casting couch” phenomenon, so to speak, is still a reality in our business and in the world: the horrible pressure, the awful expectation put on a woman when a powerful, egotistical, entitled bully expects sexual favors in exchange for a job.

However, supposedly feminist icon and powerful actress Meryl Streep, in her statement, tried to shift blame away from herself. A report in the Huffngton Post quotes the actress as saying,

“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.

One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts. And If everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.

The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.” (Emphasis not added, present in the original)

Streep’s statement seems to shift blame and explain why she herself spoke out only now, after others had called Weinstein out.

 

One of the few male Hollywood star to come out against Weinstein is George Clooney. In an interview to the Daily Beast, Clooney said that this was disturbing on many levels, and calls out Hollywood’s stars in their complicity in the whole affair.

Clooney said, “Sharon Waxman over at The Wrap said she was working on a story about Harvey over 10 years ago at The New York Times and they killed it, and if that’s true, then that’s a shameful thing because a lot of women wouldn’t have been made victims if this had come out.”

He also added, “A good bunch of people that I know would say, “Yeah, Harvey’s a dog” or “Harvey’s chasing girls,” but again, this is a very different kind of thing. This is harassment on a very high level. And there’s an argument that everyone is complicit in it. I suppose the argument would be that it’s not just about Hollywood, but about all of us—that every time you see someone using their power and influence to take advantage of someone without power and influence and you don’t speak up, you’re complicit. And there’s no question about that.”

Weinstein, who has been fired from The Weinstein Company, has been accused by multiple women of sexually harassing them over a period of nearly three decades. He reportedly invited women to hotel rooms for business reasons and then greeted them nude or asked them to massage him or watch him shower.

Meanwhile in a classic case of victim shaming, fashion designer Donna Karan defended Weinstein and suggested that women ” look at ourselves.”

“To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?” she said, according to the Daily Mail.

 

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