Over the past few weeks, allegations of rape, misconduct, and sexual assault have hit Harvey Weinstein like a broken sewage pipe, with dozens of women stepping forward with their own horrifying stories. While many of the women who were brave enough to drag Weinstein’s abuse into the harsh light of day were actresses, some in positions of power in Hollywood, it should not be forgotten that Weinstein’s behavior (and that of men like him) affects women from every stratum of the industry.
The latest example of this is Zelda Perkins, a former assistant of the Miramax London offices, who gave an interview with the Financial Times to explain what Weinstein did to her and a female colleague. Her decision makes her the first former staffer to come forward and disregard the restrictions of an NDA, claiming that Weinstein had a wide network of lawyers who worked tirelessly to suppress the stories and prevent employees from speaking out through non-disclosures.
“I want to publicly break my non-disclosure agreement,” Perkins says in the interview. “Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under. My entire world fell in because I thought the law was there to protect those who abided by it. I discovered that it had nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with money and power.”
Perkins went on to detail the now-too-familiar Weinstein MO — hotel room, indecent exposure, requests to give her a massage and watch him bathe — that she had to deal with 19 years ago. She often thought of quitting, but the final straw came when an unnamed colleague confided in her that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her at the Venice Film Festival.
The two women took legal action against the Hollywood mogul, eventually receiving £250,000 to split between the two of them with strict NDAs along with it. While Perkins wants to take the case further, she was warned against the action, with her lawyers informing her that Weinstein could come after her and her family if she tried to expose him widely.
Now that the accusations against Weinstein are gaining traction, Perkins believes that it’s her duty to speak out on behalf of other women.
“The inequality of power is so stark and relies on money rather than morality. I want other women who have been sidelined and who aren’t being allowed to own their own history or their trauma to be able to discuss what they have suffered. I want them to see that the sky won’t fall in.”