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It’s been nearly a year since The New York Times and The New Yorker published dozens of women’s allegations against Harvey Weinstein and spoke the secret of systemic sexual abuse aloud. That secret had been spoken millions of times before, of course, across decades and continents, in churches and schools, within families. This time, the whistleblowers were rich and powerful. They were women society could not so easily discredit.
The actresses who came forward gave new visibility to #MeToo, an awareness and solidarity movement started a decade earlier by advocate Tarana Burke. In January, Hollywood women founded Time’s Up, a coalition and legal defense fund to support those who have experienced sexual harassment and pay discrimination. And while many abusers have yet to be held accountable, these women say the sets they work on and the negotiation tables they sit around feel different, if only by a shade.
“This is the oldest crime since the dawn of time, and we’re just now lifting the veil of secrecy and humiliation and shame,” Gabrielle Union told InStyle at the Day of Indulgence, producer Jennifer Klein’s annual party to celebrate Hollywood women. This generative year has sparked new conversations and collaborations between women in the industry, which was even evident there, at a party that was meant to be a day off for them. Kristin Bell laid out how she’d like to see men move forward, Laverne Cox explored the importance of being frank about unequal pay, and Chrissy Metz talked about the value and urgency in female solidarity. As comedian Retta said, “We talk about this stuff on set all the time now.”
Ahead, eight Hollywood women share their views.
Chrissy Metz on female solidarity:
“I definitely think that there’s a shift happening. It takes a minute, but there’s sort of this silent nod that says “Hey girl I see you,” or “I’m so glad you’re here,” or “We’re in this together.” We all want the same thing, which is to feel our self-worth and to be compensated for it, in one way or another.”
Gabrielle Union on resistance to the #MeToo movement:
“I started in the business 23 years ago and I’ve probably been open about being a sexual assault survivor for over 20 of those years. This is the oldest crime since the dawn of time, and we’re just now lifting the veil of secrecy and humiliation and shame.
“There’s still a lot of resistance to acknowledge how widespread it is. It’s a shocking thing to sort of absorb, to grasp the enormity. The understanding that it is so widespread and can happen to the most perfect or wealthiest or most pious or whateverest among us — it’s hard to let that sink in. And then it’s terrifying once you get it.
“That is what’s slowing everything down. Cause everybody’s like nooo, no. And you’re like, yes, motherfucka, yes. I don’t know how many times I can say it. I don’t know how many different people need to tell their stories before we realize these aren’t isolated incidents; there’s a culture that supports this. If we are not actively trying to dismantle these systems, we are complicit. Our silence is complicit. Our bewilderment is complicit. Get over it quickly so we can do the work.”
Kristen Bell on the path forward:
“I want the conversation [with men] to be like the conversations I have with my kids: You did something wrong and here is how you rectify your behavior. I will be watching while you rectify your behavior, but I’m not planning on sending you to a remote island in Madagascar and never speaking to you again. I say that with the very clear caveat that there is a line. Like, if you do something criminal — obviously, no thanks. But I believe in working with men. I believe in working with the good ones, and I believe in telling the misguided ones that they are misguided, and demanding more.”
Retta on breaking the veil of silence:
“We talk about this stuff on set all the time now. We’ll be sitting in our cast chairs waiting for the mics to be done, and something will pop up on CNN.com; it creates the conversation. I think people are just glad it’s happening, and that we can bring it up without having to whisper.”
Lea Michelle on the value of male allies:
“I’m part of the Ryan Murphy family. What Ryan is doing for women in this industry is incredible. He made an effort last year to increase the percentage of female directors and crew members, and he creates these strong, powerful female casts. He writes incredible roles for women.”
Laverne Cox on talking about money:
“It’s crucial for women coming up in the business to have conversations about money. I talk about money. It’s considered rude to say ‘This is how much I got paid,’ but people should have a sense of it.
“Take the Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg re-shoot that happened last year. They had the same reps — I mean what exactly happened there? Sometimes we want to help a production, or be seen as team players, or never seem to be difficult. I know I’ve also been in a place of just being grateful to have work when I can get it, to be honest, just being who I am.”
RELATED: Laverne Cox Shares Her Own #MeToo Story
Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch on the follow-through:
Lili Reinhart: “I find that we’ve been in positions where the men have been promised different things than the women. Once the conversation started, we realized how present it was in our lives.”
Madelaine Petsch: “I won’t get into specifics, but if we hadn’t been openly discussing it, then our pay wouldn’t have been equalized. The conversation is happening, but it’s the action that’s wishy-washy.”
LR: “Remember when they said they were going to pay Claire Foy as much as her [The Crown] co-star — and then that never happened?”
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