The latest scandal to hit Hollywood is one which has provoked condemnation from individuals in the film industry to politicians and comedians alike. Claims of sexual assault by film mogul Harvey Weinstein have emerged from dozens of women including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne.
The first allegations were made in an article in the New York Times which revealed that the Oscar-winning producer had ‘paid off sexual harassment accusers for decades’.
On Thursday Rose McGowan publicly accused Weinstein of raping her, but she is just one of more than thirty woman who have come forward.
In an interview with Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, Emma Thompson referred to the film producer and studio director as a ‘predator’ who represents ‘the top of a very particular iceberg’. She claimed that the allegations did not surprise her at all and highlighted the seriousness of the situation: ‘does it only count if you really have done it to loads and loads and loads of women? Or does it count if you do it to one woman once. I think the latter.’
Similarly, Julia Roberts released a statement saying that the ‘infuriating’ story is just another example of misogyny in the twenty-first century: ‘Here we go again. I stand firm in the hope that we will finally come together as a society to stand up against this kind of predatory behaviour, to help victims find their voices and their healing, and to stop it once and for all’.
The Oscar-winning producer has since been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the board announced on Saturday.
Although, it is not just the acting world which has spoken out about the recent revelations. Barack Obama announced his ‘disgust’ at Weinstein and, for that matter, ‘any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion’.
He explained that new attitudes need to be constructed ‘by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect, so we can make such behaviour less prevalent in the future’. The statement comes after it was revealed that the former President’s eldest daughter Malia completed an internship with Weinstein this summer.
It was not only Obama who encountered Weinstein in a professional context: the producer was a major Democrat donor who had pumped funds into election campaigns for multiple representatives including Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Cory Booker – to name just a few. They have all pledged to gift their donations to charities which work fundamentally on women’s rights.
In addition, Hillary Clinton received over $15,000 for her senate and presidency campaigns. The Clinton Foundation also reportedly benefited from a donation of between $100,000 and $250,000. Clinton argues that it will not be returned, but rather given to charity: ‘I give 10% of my income to charity every year, this will be part of that … there’s no doubt about it’.
On the issue overall, Clinton described the allegations as ‘disgusting and heart-breaking’ and spoke in support of the women ‘who have been willing to come forward’ and tell their stories: ‘whatever consequences flow from his behaviour … we recognise that this behaviour cannot be tolerated anywhere’.
Indeed, what this case proves is that sexual assault is a collective concern, ‘emblematic of a systemic problem’ and endemic in our culture even to this day, according to Ryan Gosling. Sexism and chauvinism need to be challenged for cases like this one to be stopped. The question everyone is waiting for an answer to is how many other Harvey Weinsteins are there out there whose behaviour has not yet been exposed?