While it has long been one of Hollywood’s worst kept secrets, the allegations of decades of sexual misconduct and abuse surrounding Harvey Weinstein are finally being dragged into the harsh light of day. After an in-depth report from The New York Times opened the floodgates, Weinstein was eventually fired from his position at The Weinstein Company.
In the days following the Times‘ bombshell (particularly after Weinstein was officially fired), many in the industry spoke out against the media mogul. Meryl Streep was the first to issue a statement, saying: “The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.” Judi Dench made a similar statement, explaining that while Weinstein certainly championed and helped her career, she believed the women who stepped forward and said that his behavior was “horrifying.” Kate Winslet, who won an Oscar for The Reader, a Weinstein Company production, called the women stepping forward “incredibly brave,” and that Weinstein’s “gross misconduct” has been “deeply shocking” to hear about.
Jessica Chastain, Julianne Moore, and Rose McGowan have been leading the charge on Twitter, encouraging the women who have come forward and speaking in favor of those affected by Weinstein’s abuse.
However, many Hollywood men have remained mum on the issues. While Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn wrote a deeply affecting statement about sexual harassment and Mark Ruffalo, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith tweeted their disgust, it has been mostly women who have denounced Weinstein’s actions. In an excellent op-ed for The New York Times, Lena Dunham entreats men in the industry to end their “deafening silence” as well.
“The reason I am zeroing in on the men is that they have the least to lose and the most power to shift the narrative, and are probably not dealing with the same level of collective and personal trauma around these allegations. But here we are, days later, waiting for Mr. Weinstein’s most powerful collaborators to say something. Anything. It wouldn’t be just a gift to the women he has victimized, but a message to the women who are watching our industry closely. They need a signal that we do not approve of the abuse of power and hatred of women that is the driving force behind this kind of behavior.”
Dunham explained that the silence of those in power is tacit approval of Weinstein’s behavior, making it even more difficult for women in these abusive situations to come forward with their stories.
“Hollywood’s silence, particularly that of men who worked closely with Mr. Weinstein, only reinforces the culture that keeps women from speaking. When we stay silent, we gag the victims. When we stay silent, we condone behavior that none of us could possibly believe is O.K.”
As men have more to gain from a status quo that favors their terrible behavior, it’s likely that we’ll hear more stories like Matt Damon and Russell Crowe reportedly helping kill an exposé on Weinstein back in 2004 than from those brave enough to tip over the apple cart.