By Alexandria Arritt
Hollywood is the cinema capital of the nation, located in Los Angeles, California. Actors and actresses, producers, directors and writers all get their start there. Recent sexual assault allegations have brought to light an epidemic in Hollywood. The revelation began with allegations surfacing against Harvey Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein, director and producer, is just one of the many men being exposed as predators. Since the 1990s, Harvey has been accused of over 100 sexual assaults. Along with Weinstein, there are still many men who continue with their careers after allegations surface. The power structure in Hollywood allows men to act as they wish with little to no consequences.
The incomplete list of other men working in Hollywood accused of sexual assault also includes:
- Ben Affleck- director, actor, and screenwriter
- Louis C.K.- comedian and actor
- Al Franken- U.S. Senator and Saturday Night Live alumni
- Andrew Kreisburg- creator of The Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl
- Ed Westwick- Gossip Girl actor
The list adds up to 34 men as of November 2017. These men have been able to go on acting, directing, and producing because of the power structure that ignores women’s voices. This power structure can be attributed to patriarchy. Patriarchy is a social structure in which men have power over women. Systems are male-dominated and this is evident in organized society as well as individual relationships. Patriarchy operates under the notion that women could never or will never be able to lead men. Some patriarchs gain power through fame and fortune. Patriarchs continue to stay in power by normalizing behavior towards women that diminishes their experiences and opinions. Last year, reports show that 91% of shows across all platforms employed no female directors, 76% had no women creators, and 71% had no female writers. The lack of female representation in film makes it easy for Hollywood to work in favor of men.
Within Hollywood, men use a variety of means to exert power women. They often use threats to silence women who speak up about their experiences with sexual assault. Women are told they will lose job opportunities and even their reputation if they speak up. Many respond to the industry’s negligence with an “oh, well” attitude. “This is just how it is, oh well.” We are conditioned to ignore sexual assault within the industry. It is normalized more, the more women are criticized for speaking out. Another way Hollywood silences women is through morality clauses and abortion. These tactics are less common today, but were once the main way powerful men responded to women’s pleas for justice. Morality clauses were often included in contracts between actresses and directors or producers. These clauses stated that if a woman got pregnant, they were required to have an abortion. Pregnant women were not shown often in Hollywood. Pregnancy was considered less than glamorous. Women in the industry have long been criticized for speaking out against their abusers. Rose McGowan is an actress and producer who has been ridiculed for championing the movement against abusers in Hollywood. Although it’s a tough spot to be in, women like Rose have created a movement in Hollywood. Some may call it a revolution.
Recently, there has been a shift away from male-centered protagonists and a focus on the female experience. Common themes include: women as emotional powerhouses, courage, activism, a strong sense of self, and low tolerance for abusive behaviors. A popular show that shows these things is Hemingway and Gellhorn. This movie is a biopic film about a famous couple. The movie explores the power struggle between an abusive man and a strong woman. Movies like these help to portray the truth behind once romanticized relationships. Although there is change happening in Hollywood, many, including myself, are still waiting to see how people react to this epidemic.
So, what is being done to prosecute these men in Hollywood? While legal convictions are slow moving and many assaults are hard to prove in a court of law, there are many ways we can be proactive in the fight. The first step all people need to take to improve the situation in Hollywood is to believe and support women.
It is easy to say you don’t tolerate harassment, but it’s harder to stand up for women in your daily lives. But that is what is necessary. Listen to women who have been abused and assaulted. The next step is to not allow those in film to continue to produce, act, or direct once claims have surfaced. Allowing them to continue allows the cycle to progress. Many people continue to watch films created by men who have used the power they’ve received from fame to hurt other people. Calling for the resignation and criminal persecution of those who have assaulted others is what will cause change.
For those who have experienced abuse, there are resources available to you. The National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-HOPE, operates 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and it’s completely confidential.
For those who haven’t experienced abuse, but still want to help in a tangible way, here are a few organizations you can donate to or support:
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
- NAESV (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence)
- SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office)
Right here in Moscow, those who have dealt with assault can turn to Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse for support. ATVP also has a 24-hour crisis help line: 1-509-332-HELP .