In the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter's roundtables, six notable actresses gather to discuss a difficult topic: Hollywood's recent string of sexual harassment allegations. The panel included Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Saoirse Ronan, and Mary J. Blige.
When THR's Matthew Belloni asked the actresses, "Can the culture of leveraging power and the culture of abuse change?" their answers varied.
Lawrence said that she thinks the system can change "eventually" — but "it's going to be a while."
"I believe that things will change because this is making other women say, 'Me too,' 'Me too,' 'Me too' — it keeps happening every day, because people are tired of sitting around with that secret that holds them prisoner. Women have been going through this since they were children," Blige said on the panel. "As a child, I went through it all the way up until adulthood. When I got in the music business, I never had it, because I went through so much of it in childhood."
Blige also said that she "never had that problem" in the music industry, adding that she was "always kind of a tomboy."
"Because I've been through so much as a child and a teenager, I just wore baggier jeans and Timberlands and hats turned backward. It took me a very long time to even wear makeup and tight clothes because I had been through so much," Blige said during the discussion. "And those secrets I still have to deal with. So hopefully these women are free, because it hurts."
Stone emphasized that there are many more women who haven't shared their own stories yet, but are still affected by sexual misconduct. She stressed the fact that no one is required to share their experiences publicly if they don't want to — it doesn't make someone less of a survivor.
"I feel so much compassion for those who are still getting up and going to work every day with their abuser or have had abuse in their past and who are not ready to say anything," Stone said. "And putting pressure on women to share it, you know, 'If you're not saying it now, then you're complicit in this evil that's occurring,' isn't fair."
Lawrence also said a producer once called her "unruly" and "difficult."
"Sometimes — I've had this happen: I finally made the decision to stand up for myself, and then I went to go to the bathroom at work, and one of the producers stopped me and was like, 'You know, we can hear you on the microphone, you've been really unruly.' Which was not true, but basically my job was threatened because the director said something fucked up to me and I said, 'That's sick, you can't talk to me like that,' and then I was punished, and I got afraid that I wasn't going to be hired again," Lawrence said. "I was called difficult and a nightmare. I think a lot of people aren't coming forward because they're afraid they're not going to work again. You need to be able to say, 'This is wrong' and have somebody do something about it instead of saying, 'Oh, it's wrong? Well, you're fired.'"
The full roundtable discussion is worth a read — it's not easy to talk about sexual harassment, but it's an important conversation to have.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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