Hol­ly­wood’s women stand up

Girl power! At last, the lead­ing ladies are get­ting one up on the bad guys in Tin­sel­town

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Over the past two weeks, more than 30 actresses have outed Hol­ly­wood’s most pow­er­ful pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein as a sex­ual preda­tor and rapist, and on Oc­to­ber 18, A-lis­ter Reese Wither­spoon con­fessed her own shock­ing se­cret – that she was sex­u­ally as­saulted by a di­rec­tor she was work­ing with at just 16.

“I wish I could tell you that was an iso­lated in­ci­dent in my ca­reer, but sadly, it wasn’t,” the star, 41, said at Elle mag­a­zine’s Women in Hol­ly­wood Awards on Oc­to­ber 17.

“I don’t speak about them very of­ten, but af­ter hear­ing the sto­ries these past few days it’s made me want to speak up. I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my en­tire ca­reer.”

At the same event, Jen­nifer Lawrence shared a story from the early days of her ca­reer, when a fe­male pro­ducer forced her and five other women to stand naked in a line-up in or­der to win a role.

“We are stood side by side with only paste-ons on cov­er­ing our pri­vates,” J-law re­vealed, adding that the woman told her to use snaps from the shoot “as in­spi­ra­tion for my diet” and that she needed to lose 6.8kg in two weeks to se­cure the role.

Like Reese, J-law, 27, be­lieves that while the last few weeks have been tough, they’ve ul­ti­mately proved “oddly uni­fy­ing” for actresses.

And it’s this re­cent wave of women who are no longer afraid to speak up against abuses of power that has many declar­ing a new age to have fi­nally dawned in male­dom­i­nated Hol­ly­wood – one where fe­male voices are the loud­est, and where the cast­ing couch no longer ex­ists.

“This feels like a land­mark mo­ment,” Melissa Sil­ver­stein, founder of the blog Women And Hol­ly­wood, said fol­low­ing the ac­cu­sa­tions against Har­vey. “We’re done with men pay­ing off peo­ple, in­still­ing fear and us­ing in­tim­i­da­tion to hide ab­hor­rent be­hav­iour.”

In­deed, al­ready other Hol­ly­wood big­wigs have been called out – and rep­ri­manded – for their bul­ly­ing tac­tics.

Along with Har­vey’s brother Bob also be­ing ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, Ama­zon Stu­dios head Roy Price, 50, was forced to re­sign amid Rose Mc­gowan’s claims he helped keep Har­vey’s ac­tions against her hush-hush.

Roy also ap­par­ently asked Ama­zon em­ploy­ees whether Reese and Ni­cole Kid­man would “show their tits” when con­sid­er­ing if his net­work

He re­sponded by telling me he didn’t know why every­one thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly ‘f**kable’ – J-law on a male pro­ducer’s re­sponse to the body-sham­ing au­di­tion she once went through

should pick up now-hit-series Big Lit­tle Lies.

But it’s not just actresses who have come for­ward as vic­tims. Les­bian pro­ducer Isa Hack­ett says that in 2015, Roy told her, “You will love my d*ck.”

And at the Elle event, Kris­ten Ste­wart said she had saved many make-up artists and cam­era as­sis­tants from abuse, be­cause “it trick­led down”.

“When I say ‘saved’, I mean mo­men­tar­ily been like, ‘Don’t, f**ker!’” K-stew, 27, said. “They are em­bar­rassed for one sec­ond, but it just keeps go­ing ev­ery sin­gle day. Those girls are as duct-taped as one could pos­si­bly be be­cause they are in fear of get­ting their next job, as ev­ery ac­tress is, too, same deal.”

But now that the lid’s been for­ever blown off, the shame, guilt and fear of speak­ing g out has dis­si­pated too, prompt­ing stars like Lena a Heady and Minka Kelly to o share their own Har­vey hor­ror sto­ries.

This bravery has also sparked many other women to come for­ward with sex­ual as­sault se­crets they felt they had to hide, with the hash­tag #metoo spread­ing across the globe on so­cial media – and high­light­ing just how preva­lent sex­ual as­sault is.

Amer­ica Fer­rera, 33, used this em­pow­er­ing hash­tag in an Instagram post about the first time she was sex­u­ally as­saulted – at the age of nine, by some­one she saw daily.

“Ladies let’s break the si­lence so the next gen­er­a­tion of girls won’t have to live with this bullsh*t,” she penned.

Hol­ly­wood heavy­weight Gail Ber­man says to achieve this, the key is putting women in pow­er­ful po­si­tions where they can call the shots. An­other bat­tle on its own...

“That makes this less likely to hap­pen,” she says. “As we all know, it’s a power is­sue.”

And La La Land’s lead­ing men seem more than will­ing to throw their sup­port be­hind the change.

Chan­ning Ta­tum has put his money where his mouth is by cut­ting ties with Har­vey and The We­in­stein Com­pany, and is also ditch­ing his role as di­rec­tor of its up­com­ing project For­give Me, Leonard Pea­cock – which is, iron­i­cally, a tale of sex­ual abuse.

“This is a gi­ant op­por­tu­nity for real pos­i­tive change that we proudly com­mit our­selves to,” Chan­ning, 37, says. “Let’s fin­ish what our in­cred­i­ble col­leagues started and elim­i­nate abuse from our cre­ative cul­ture once and for all.” Amen to that! n

The di­rec­tor who as­saulted me when I was 16... I wish I could tell you that was an iso­lated in­ci­dent in my ca­reer, but sadly it wasn’t – Reese

High-pro­file women break­ing their si­lence in­clude (left to right) Amer­ica, Lena, J-law, Rose and Reese

Reese was first as­saulted as a teen ac­tress

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