Before recently Harvey Weinstein was best known for his work as an American film producer and studio director, producing highly acclaimed films such as, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and ‘My Week With Marilyn’. However, on Thursday 5th of October the New York Times released an article which turned speculation about his inappropriate behaviour toward young women into fact. Actresses such as Ashley Judd came forward to describe how he had sent her up to his hotel room and appeared in a bathrobe, asking her if she’d like to give him a massage or watch him shower. The paper stated that there were undisclosed allegations against Harvey Weinstein spanning three decades and that there were at least eight settlement deals between him and women he had harassed.
After the article was released, British actress Romola Garai explained she had a similar experience when she was just eighteen and remembered feeling violated as she was made to go to Mr. Weinstein’s hotel room. The Atonement star suggested that the emergence of these allegations was unsurprising, and suggested that Harvey Weinstein enjoyed showing his dominance over young women and humiliating them.
This issue appears to have shaken the whole of Hollywood, as actresses such as Meryl Streep and Judi Dench, spoke out to praise those who had come forward. More recently ‘Big Bang Theory’ star Mayim Bialik released a short article entitled ‘Being A Feminist In Harvey Weinstein’s World’. She draws on issues around the fact that the TV and film industry objectifies women, and how ‘pretty girls’ were favoured by powerful men. She suggests that this may affect young women and how they may view themselves and draws on personal experiences around struggling with self-image.
The case developed further when ‘Charmed’ star Rose McGowan took to twitter and claimed that Mr. Weinstein had raped her. “I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof”. The Times has reviewed a legal document between the two which showed that they reached a $100,000 settlement deal, which legally was “not to be construed as an admission” but to “avoid litigation and buy peace.” Harvey Weinstein has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. It was after this that the movie stars Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow claimed that they too had been sexually harassed by Weinstein.
More celebrities seem to be coming forward every day, as model and actress Cara Delevingne took to Instagram to describe her experience with Weinstein, describing how he took her to a hotel room and tried to kiss her on the lips. The sheer number of famous women that have come forward has made the case particularly shocking both in Britain and in America.
Weinstein was seen briefly on Wednesday, he addressed the press and said, “I’m hanging in, I’m trying my best. I’m not doing OK but I’m trying. I gotta get help guys. You know what, we all make mistakes … Second chance, I hope.” On Thursday night officers were called to his daughter’s house following a ‘family dispute’. Since then Weinstein has reportedly left Los Angeles and has checked into a rehab centre for sex addiction.
If the latest abuse allegations are tried in a criminal court, legal experts suggest that Harvey Weinstein could face 25 years in prison on sexual assault charges. However, many of the allegations made against him may be difficult to prove, due to the lack of witnesses, and the fact the events happened a long time ago. The sheer number of women who have stepped forward may encourage the district attorney to reopen the case or open a new one, although there have been no announcements regarding this.
This story has not just had an impact on Weinstein himself, this case is suggested to have opened the floodgates in Hollywood. This became clear with the use of the #MeToo campaign across social media, where women used the hashtag to show that they had been sexually harassed or assaulted. The use of social media and the vast number of high profile women involved has led people to predict that it may lead to changes within the industry.