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Many Hollywood Actresses Come Forth With Their (Non-Weinstein) Sexual Harassment Experiences

Emanuel Shirazi

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment past coming to light, there has been a flood of sexual harassment and assault reports coming out. Female celebrities and personalities such as Bjork, Jennifer Lawrence, Martha Stewart, Gabrielle Union, Reese Witherspoon, Jane Fonda, and Kristen Stewart have all shared their similarly horrific experiences with being sexually harassed or assaulted.

In addition, Tarana Burke, a black female activist, is responsible for inspiring a trending hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. Though she started the Me Too movement 10 years ago as a way to let young women of color who have survived sexual assault that they are not alone and that they are not to blame, the hashtag went viral when actress Alyssa Milano asked victims of sexual assault and harassment to update their statuses with #MeToo. Some women even chose to share their painful stories. Burke says the hashtag is particularly important to survivors who still haven’t healed, “As a community, we create a lot of space for fighting and pushing back, but not enough for connecting and healing.”

Below is a summary of some of the sexual harassment stories that have recently come forth:

  1. Kristen Stewart recently made a statement that addresses the pertinent sexual harassment that pervades women who are behind the scenes in Hollywood, such as makeup artist and camera assistants. She goes on to say that, though she calls out those who are inappropriate and they act embarrassed in the moment, the inappropriate behavior continues to happen.
  2. Reese Witherspoon says she was assaulted by a director when she was just 16 years old.  Though she feels guilty not coming forward sooner, Witherspoon reveals that, at the time, agents and producers made her feel that silence was imperative if she wanted to remain employed. Though she didn’t go into detail about the assault, she has vowed that she will do her part in raising awareness and inspiring change so that other sexual assault victims can heal.
  3. Gabrielle Union has used Twitter to share her story of survival. The 44-year-old actress revealed that she was raped at gunpoint when she was only 19. The actress is committed to educating the public, especially in regards to victim blaming and victim shaming. “I just want to keep speaking out to dispel as many misconceptions as possible about sexual violence.”
  4. Martha Stewart revealed that when she was a 16-year-old model, she was asked to wear a bikini under her clothes during a commercial. Thinking they were filming a beach commercial, she agreed. When she was asked to remove her clothes in a room full of male Ad executives, however, she realized exactly what was going on. Instead of complying, Stewart walked out of the room. Stewart thinks that more women should just say ‘no’. “You can walk out of the room, Stewart says, “it might hurt your career, so you’ll find something better somewhere else.”
  5. Bjork used Facebook to reveal her first-hand account with sexual harassment. Though she never revealed that her claims were specifically directed at Lars von Trier, a Danish director, and screenwriter, but the public soon figured it out, which then inspired him to publicly deny the allegations. Bjork then spoke up with more details of the harassment. She claimed that while she was filming in Sweden, “a Danish director” threatened  to come into her hotel room with a “clear sexual intention.” In addition, he often whispered graphic sexual offers in her ear or would hug her for an inappropriate amount of time. Because she didn’t comply with the harassment, Bjork believes that he spread lies to the media portraying her as difficult on set.

Do you think the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #metoo campaign will finally get the public to understand the sexual harassment/assault problem in our society?

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