Over the past couple of weeks, a number of women have alleged that film titan Harvey Weinstein harassed, assaulted, and raped them. These disturbing allegations date back decades, leaving many to wonder just how his vile actions weren't condemned earlier.
But does Weinstein's behavior really come as that huge of a surprise? For nearly a century, women in the film industry have shared their experiences with harassment and assaults at the hands of high-profile men, only to later be accused of lying. Just take one look back at how people treated Virginia Rappe when she accused comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle of raping her in 1921. Rather than comfort her, people lamented how her allegations spurred the demise of Arbuckle's career.
Flash-forward 30-40 years, and legendary actresses like Tippi Hedren and Rita Moreno were still being victimized by men like Arbuckle.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Hedren recalled how Alfred Hitchcock made unwanted advances while filming The Birds and Marnie.
"[Hitchcock] leaned over and tried to kiss me when we were about to get out of the car," she said. "It was like, 'I want to do this now where everybody can see what we’re doing,' and I said, 'Oh get off.'"
Hedren said that, sadly, Hitchcock's aggression "wasn't a surprise" and that "this wasn't my first rodeo," as sexual harassment is something that has "been going on for millennia." She later added that men like Hitchcock and Weinstein "think they can get away with these antics" because they "have a tremendous amount of power and a great deal of money."
For transparency's sake, it's important to note that Hedren also stated that women need to be responsible for not letting such situations "get out of hand." I believe that predators, and no one else, should be held accountable for their actions. Suggesting otherwise puts the blame on victims and survivors, which is unacceptable, as it discourages people from coming forward.
Though I respect the fact that Hedren risked her own career back in the '60s by calling out Hitchcock's behavior, the reality is that so many women are terrified to lose their jobs and thus tolerate harassment in the workplace. This was the case for Moreno, who said that she was scared to distance herself from Buddy Adler, who in the '50s was a Fox studio chief.
"He just took one look at me and said 'ooooh," she recalled while at the Paley Center for Media's gala for women in television, according to Variety.
Later, she added: "I just kind of knew this was not the person I wanted to mess around with. You can imagine as a Latino kid it was so important for me to be in movies. I wanted to be a movie star so badly."
For a year, Moreno diligently worked to dodge private meetings with Adler and his attempts to "come and get" her. Though he eventually quit harassing her, she said "you never get over something like that."
Despite the traumatizing experience, Moreno said she wouldn't let anyone take her power.
"I just want to say, 'You know what? I'm still fucking here."
Moreno's words should become a battlecry of sorts for all survivors who doubt themselves or feel that they're in some way lesser-than because of their experiences. By supporting each other — believing in one another and in ourselves — we can take back the power that the Weinsteins, Adlers, and Hitchcocks so arrogantly believe is theirs to keep.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).