Following a landmark exposé by The New York Times’ Ronan Farrow detailing allegations of abuse and cover-up settlements by Mr. Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s board moved to fire the man responsible for some of their biggest movies in an unprecedented move which has shaken Hollywood to its core. The firing followed an escalation of events in which one-third of the company’s all-male board resigned, and was agreed to by Bob Weinstein, Mr. Harvey Weinstein’s brother.
The alleged misconduct of Mr Weinstein spans decades, and forge a pattern in which he would invite vulnerable women, mainly young actresses and members of staff to his hotel for meetings, only to ensure they were taken up to his room and exposed to nudity, invited for massages or physically harassed.
Ashley Judd, the first actor to go on record, stated that she was invited to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel 20 years ago for a business breakfast in the lobby, but arrived to find out that the meeting was set to be in his suite. She was greeted by Mr. Weinstein wearing a dressing gown, and repeatedly asked if she wanted him to give her a massage. Ms. Judd states: “I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask…It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining…Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
Gwyneth Paltrow has stated that she was summoned to Mr. Weinstein’s suite for a work meeting after securing the role in a new adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma. Aged only 22 at the time, Mr. Weinstein is alleged to have placed his hands on her and suggest they head to the bedroom for massages. “I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she has said, but refused his advances. Soon after, she was warned not to tell anyone else about the incident and feared for her job.
Romola Garai and Angelina Jolie have also added their voices, with Ms. Jolie stating: “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth…As a result, [I] chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did… This behaviour towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.” Whilst Ms. Garai states: “Like every other woman in the industry, I’ve had an ‘audition’ with Harvey Weinstein, where I’d actually already had the audition but you had to be personally approved by him…It was an abuse of power.”
Following the allegations, financial contributions made by Mr. Weinstein to the Democrat Party in America have been rejected and instead donated to women’s shelters, and actresses Kate Winslet, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep have all made statements in support of all the women who have come forward with their testimonies.
The Guardian newspaper has questioned why men in Hollywood have stayed silent or been slow to condemn Mr. Weinstein over these allegations. A point that further begs the question: just how many people turned a blind eye to one man’s abuse of power? And just how many women were made to suffer as a result?