The allegations of sexual harassment against former Pixar CCO John Lasseter are still pretty hard to wrap your head around. While it isn’t a shock that sexual harassment would occur in the workplace, you don’t expect to read about it in a place like Pixar. But it seems any environment can house such behavior and the stories about the atmosphere at Pixar under Lasseter continue to roll out.
The most recent comes from a Medium post from Cassandra Smolcic, a former graphic designer at the company who shared her post with Variety for a guest column titled, “How Pixar’s Open Sexism Ruined My Dream Job.” It’s not a fun read and paints a picture of a harsh reality in what should be the best job you could hope for in the creative world:
At Pixar, my female-ness was an undeniable impediment to my value, professional mobility, and sense of security within the company. The stress of working amidst such a blatantly sexist atmosphere took its toll, and was a major factor in forcing me out of the industry.
When I started at Pixar as an intern, I thought I’d landed my dream job. But my excitement was quickly tempered by a flood of warnings about Lasseter’s touchy-feely, boundary-crossing tendencies with female employees. It was devastating to learn, right from the start, that women were open targets for disrespect and harassment –– even at a world-renowned workplace in the most liberal-leaning city in the country. I was likewise told to steer clear of a particularly chauvinistic male lead in my department. Much like John, this man’s female targets had been reporting his vulgar, unprofessional behaviors for years, but his position and demeanor remained much the same.
Smolcic then goes on to describe some of the behavior Lasseter exhibited during his time in charge, allegedly never really hiding sexism and poor treatment of female employees. When others are forced to apologize and warn about your behavior, it might be time to take a step back:
But Lasseter didn’t need an intimate setting to make female employees uncomfortable. He would give me, and countless other women, lecherous up-and-down looks (or unwanted hugs and touches) almost every time we crossed his path on campus. These tactless encounters made it clear that we were sex objects to him. The entire Pixar workforce witnessed the sleazy spin that John brought to Pixar’s Halloween bash. If he found a woman attractive when she got on stage, he’d ask her to spin around while he made suggestive comments, turning the event into yet another lewd spectacle.
Lasseter’s open sexism set the tone from the top, emboldening others to act like frat boys in just about any campus setting. I’ll never forget the day a director compared his latest film to “a big-titted blond who was difficult to nail down” in front of the whole company, a joke that received gasps of disapproval.
She adds that Lasseter “set the bar shamefully low for the overall treatment of women in his empire” and described her performance reviews in the piece, with one male co-worker telling her that all of her supposed negative qualities “would be in the positive column” if she were a man. The piece also details the treatment of other women at Pixar and doesn’t shy away from saying the company is likely still similar despite the departure of Lasseter.
The entire piece is definitely worth your time and adds another face to the #MeToo movement. And it’s a bittersweet story too because her dreams were torn up by the place that should’ve made them come true.
(Via Variety / Medium)