Justin Baldoni has joined the growing list of men speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment in Hollywood. According to BuzzFeed, the Jane the Virgin star shared his experiences with Glamour magazine, highlighting one particularly disturbing encounter with a producer at the Burke Williams Day Spa in West Hollywood about a decade ago.
Baldoni, who said he was new to acting at the time, said the producer spotted him across the room and joined him in a hot tub. The two exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes before the man allegedly tried to convince Baldoni to get nude.
"He started talking about all of the movies he's done and all the people he knows. He's friends with Clooney, Cheadle, and this person, and this person, and he slowly started to try to get me to take off my pants because I had my bathing suit on and he was naked," Baldoni recalled. "And I remember the way he did it, using his power and what he does and who he knows as a way to make me feel less than, like I wasn't going to be as successful as the other guys who'd been in the same hot tub with him, naked."
For a brief moment, Baldoni said he considered obliging but ultimately decided to leave. The encounter has stuck with him throughout the years and has made him sensitive to the kind of harassment women face daily.
"I could imagine how hard and painful that must be for a woman," he said. "I mean I was stronger and bigger than the guy, and [then there's] the fact that no one is going to believe you if you're a woman because your voice is already not heard."
Though he admitted that women have harassed him, too, he recognized that the majority of reported sexual predators are men and that there's a strong chance even he's made someone uncomfortable in the past.
"I think that's when the other side of the "Me Too" movement is "I'm Sorry"...and all I can do is say, 'I'm sorry, I was naive, I was young, I was screwed up, and I'll try to do better.'"
But, that's not really all he's doing. When Glamour spoke with Baldoni, he had just given a talk at the TEDWomen event in New Orleans where he called for a change to the way we view and define masculinity in our society.
"This is the script that we’ve been given," Glamour reports he said. "Girls are weak, and boys are strong...I came here today to say as a man that this is wrong, this is toxic, and it has to end."
Breaking down cultural gender norms is key to putting an end to rape culture. The more we celebrate tolerance, acceptance, and equality, the more likely it is that boys will grow up believing that women and girls (and all people) are worthy of respect and dignity.
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).