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Harvey Weinstein scandal: 5 times women who came forward with stories of sexual harassment were ignored

While the crusade against sexual abusers in Hollywood has well and truly taken flight, that is not how it usually is. Here are 5 examples of women’s stories that were ignored.

hollywood Updated: Nov 06, 2017 12:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Harvey Weinstein,Sexual Abuse,Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Harvey Weinstein kicks off the Film Finance Circle conference with an informal discussion at the inaugural Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi (File photot).(REUTERS)

In 2016, Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood said child abuse is running rampant in Hollywood - but soon clarified his statements. He said that while he didn’t have any firsthand experiences, he was just repeating what he’d gathered from his many years in the movie industry.

In the same year, several individuals who claimed to have been preyed upon by ‘Hollywood’s child abuse ring’ came forward their stories. One of the biggest names being circulated at the time was X-Men director Bryan Singer. A campaign was launched against Singer, a documentary was made, and settlements were arrived at. Bryan Singer released X-Men: Apocalypse a few months later.

Another X-Men director is at the forefront of the revelations that have come out following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, in which over 70 women have alleged that the movie mogul abused his power to sexually harass, intimidate and in some cases, even rape young women. Following the Los Angeles Times’ story about director Brett Ratner, over 45 more women have contacted the newspaper with stories of their own.

The sorry trend that emerges from these instances is that unless a massive wave of protest follows, very few stories are taken seriously, and even fewer have repercussions for those accused.

For years, there had been rumours about Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. But when comedian Hannibal Buress joked about Cosby in a set, he was seen as a betrayer of the tribe, a turncoat who went against his people and pointed fingers at a man most comedians considered the greatest of all time.

Several think pieces have been written in recent weeks about why women don’t come forward with their stories. Angie Han made compelling points in her piece for Mashable, which you can read here. “The thing with being a victim is I felt responsible,” actor Asia Argento, one of the prime accusers in the Weinstein case, told the New Yorker.

And we’ve seen examples of how women who do muster the strength to come forward are treated. They’re threatened with negative repercussions to their careers, and in the case of director James Toback’s victims, even with death. The director has been accused by over 300 women of predatory behaviour, dating back to the 1970s.

Here are five instances in which women have made revelations about abusive behaviour, only for their statements to have been swept away in the cyclone that is the daily news cycle.

In 2013, Thandie Newton alleged that she was sexually abused by a casting director in her teens. “The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, and the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt,” she said to CNN. “It’s really bizarre that violence against women isn’t a number one priority.”

A combination picture of the women who’ve accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. (AFP)

In 1992, Woody Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow alleged that her father abused her on several occasions. “There was an unwritten rule in Mia Farrow’s house that Woody Allen was never supposed to be left alone with their seven-year-old adopted daughter,” began a tell-all Vanity Fair piece. Allen continues to make movies to this day, attracting some of the biggest stars in the business.

Olivia Munn, in her 2010 memoir, mentioned an unnamed Hollywood director who masturbated in front of her on a movie set. In an appearance on a radio show, Brett Ratner essentially admitted it was him she was talking about, taking it a step further and saying that he “banged her three times.” He retracted the statement later. Ratner signed a $450 million deal with Warner Bros in 2013.

In 2005, when asked if she had any advice for aspiring actresses in Hollywood, singer/actor Courtney Love hesitantly said, “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons don’t go.” Weinstein’s behaviour was somewhat of an open secret in Hollywood, with Tina Fey and Seth MacFarlane alluding to it in 30 Rock and the Oscars.

In a 1979 interview to Time, Meryl Streep said that Dustin Hoffman, whom she was auditioning for “came up to me and said, ‘I’m Dustin—burp—Hoffman,’ and he put his hand on my breast,” Streep said. “What an obnoxious pig, I thought.” Hoffman’s name has cropped up in the recent string of accusations. Author Anna Graham Hunter, now 49, alleged that she was sexually harassed by Hoffman on the set of a TV film when she was 17. “He was a predator, I was a child, and this was sexual harassment,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

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First Published: Nov 06, 2017 12:07 IST