This Week in Women: Hollywood’s Sexism is Bigger Than Its Latest Scandal

Starting last week, dozens of women–including A-list actor Gwyneth Paltrow–have been speaking out against sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood by sharing detailed accusations that should end the career of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The New York Times’ reporting on this issue is historic—but will the result be a historic change for women?

Complaints of sexual assault are suddenly provoking shock and being taken seriously as real news–no doubt thanks to women’s rise in newsrooms, film, tech and politics and the amped-up volume of their collective voices. Women journalists broke this story—with the help of a number of male editors and reporters—and now, women journalists like NYT’s Manohla Dargis are pushing their audiences to see this as bigger than Weinstein.

Of course it is.

Molly Adams

Actress Geena Davis and others have been collecting evidence since 2004 showing how Hollywood objectifies, silences and demeans women in movies and in newsrooms. Most insidiously, even in children’s programming. Don’t look away: Why are there still so few women directors, and so few older women actresses in movies? Why do we have so many movies and TV shows that glorify violence against women, and so few in which women even have speaking roles? See the evidence here.

Hollywood’s influence is global, and its low esteem for women is like a virus that undermines movements everywhere. When industry titans use their power to denigrate, prey on and assault women inside their workplaces—and I’m talking Trump, Bill Clinton, Ailes, O’Reilly and more in sports, music and tech and on Wall Street (so many women have a story)—can we finally recognize the waters we are swimming in?

Thursday, somewhat unbelievably, Twitter suspended the account of the brave actress Rose McGowan, who says she was raped by Weinstein and who used Twitter to push all of us—especially men—to speak out about sexual violence, assault and harassment. Today, she and a female software engineer are leading #WomenBoycottTwitter in response.

The Fuller Project’s reporters have personally experienced—and report on—the widespread bullying and trolling of women journalists on social media, and have seen Twitter’s lackluster response. That Twitter would wring its hands on everyday sexual harassment, yet act so quickly against a woman who says she was raped and everyone ignored her, astounds us, too. (Here’s their explanation.)

What do you think — will this week represent a moment of change for men and women?




Christina Asquith is former editor for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World and founder/editor in chief of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, which contributed this story and which works with Peace Is Loud on women, peace and security issues.