Siena Yates

The New Zealand Herald - - CLASSIFIED - t@ sien­a_y

men would try to ex­change their do­na­tion for my num­ber.

A woman where I worked in Lon­don had a stalker. It got so bad that I was called in to the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion to give a for­mal state­ment so she could take le­gal ac­tion.

Once I had an in­ter­view with a rap­per who hit on me down the phone and told me to “call me what­ever you like honey, you know what I’m say­ing?”.

Re­cently I had an in­ter­view with another star who kept avoid­ing my ques­tions and in­stead asked what star sign I was and whether he could see me in per­son when he came on tour.

I laughed it off. It seemed like part of the job. Par for the course. Even now, I don’t want to write their names be­cause they’re big stars and I’m . . . just me.

I can only imag­ine that’s how these women felt about We­in­stein.

As well as em­ploy­ees, mod­els and co-work­ers, ac­tresses in­clud­ing Ash­ley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Ar­quette, Asia Ar­gento, Jes­sica Barth, Ro­mola Garai, Ju­dith Go­dreche, Rose McGowan and Heather Gra­ham have all spo­ken out against We­in­stein and more con­tinue to come for­ward as time goes on.

Most no­tably, An­gelina Jolie and Gwyneth Pal­trow joined the grow­ing list of ac­cusers on Wed­nes­day — a big deal con­sid­er­ing We­in­stein es­sen­tially launched Pal­trow’s ca­reer and helped her win an Os­car. This is a man who makes and breaks ca­reers.

Jolie and Pal­trow are huge stars now but they weren’t al­ways. They started out like the rest of us, young and green. And Hol­ly­wood is a cut­throat in­dus­try. When a guy like We­in­stein tells you to do some­thing, you do it, and when that some­thing takes a turn for the worse, who do you tell? Who’s go­ing to be­lieve you?

Who’s go­ing to confront a guy like We­in­stein about a thing like that?

And maybe this is how it works, right? At least one of the women’s

Jolie and Pal­trow are huge stars now but they weren’t al­ways. They started out like the rest of us, young and green.

ac­counts says We­in­stein told her “ev­ery­body does it”.

Let’s not for­get all those sto­ries that blew the lid off the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren in Hol­ly­wood. Eli­jah Wood and Corey Feld­man spoke out about how chil­dren were groomed and as­saulted at par­ties. Corey Haim’s rape at age 11 con­trib­uted to his drug prob­lem which led to his death 38 years later.

The ac­cu­sa­tions out of Hol­ly­wood feel like they’ve been con­stant. Bryan Singer, Casey Af­fleck, a host of Hol­ly­wood ex­ecs. In New Zealand we had Rene Na­u­fahu ad­mit to six in­de­cent as­sault charges against women he was sup­posed to be teach­ing in act­ing classes. Young women try­ing to get a head start in the in­dus­try trusted him be­cause he had the ex­pe­ri­ence and cre­den­tials.

I know women who have had to deal with sex­ual as­sault or ha­rass­ment through­out their lives. I once found a work­mate at a for­mer job crying in the toi­lets be­cause our boss had tried to kiss her. I watched another work­mate get her bum grabbed by some kind of mid­dle man­age­ment at a Christ­mas party, and then play it down be­cause none of us were sure who he was or how much power he had.

My own boss told me a story of how when she was just 23, she was bailed up by a la­bel exec at a Christ­mas party where he used his body to block the exit and tried to put his hand down her pants. She had to punch him to get free — and has had to deal with him cor­dially ever since, lest the pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship be de­stroyed.

It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s an in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ment, an in­ap­pro­pri­ate touch or rape. It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s by a boss, co-worker, client or cus­tomer. It doesn’t mat­ter if we didn’t say any­thing when it hap­pened. It hap­pened. And it af­fects us all even when we try so hard to pre­tend it doesn’t.

Right now there are dozens of women in Hol­ly­wood who are shin­ing a light on a prob­lem we all ex­pe­ri­ence as women and we have a duty to lis­ten and to sup­port the women in our lives as they share their own truths in re­sponse.

We need to di­rect our at­ten­tion not at the women com­ing for­ward, but at the men they’re speak­ing out against. Be­cause this is the prob­lem. We are a part of a so­ci­ety which makes us feel we can’t speak up.

This isn’t a Hol­ly­wood prob­lem. It isn’t a fe­male prob­lem. It’s a prob­lem for all of us. We need to do bet­ter.

When I was 15, I got my first job in the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. The sex­ual ha­rass­ment started pretty much im­me­di­ately and has fol­lowed me through­out my pro­fes­sional life.

That’s why the Har­vey We­in­stein ac­cu­sa­tions are such big news. Be­cause al­most ev­ery woman knows what it’s like to be sex­u­ally ha­rassed or as­saulted in a pro­fes­sional set­ting, and to have to play it down or shrug it off for the sake of their rep­u­ta­tions and jobs.

I was only 15 and grown men would come in and make com­ments on my ap­pear­ance, tell me to smile, pinch my bum while I was bend­ing over and yell things from their cars while I was gath­er­ing trol­leys.

Older men would ask me for my num­ber and I even had a stalker. It was an older man who would come into the store close to clos­ing time, stare at me for as long as hu­manly pos­si­ble, and then wait out­side the exit for me to leave at the end of my shift.

I never did or said any­thing to the guy. I didn’t tell man­age­ment. I was young and it was my first job and I didn’t want to make a scene or be seen as not be­ing able to hack it.

It got to the point where I had to stop driv­ing to work and had my mum drop me off and pick me up in­stead.

I’ve worked in re­tail, hos­pi­tal­ity, of­fice ad­min and more, and ev­ery­where there has been sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Even when I was col­lect­ing for char­i­ties on the street,

Pic­tures / AP

Some of the women who have ac­cused Har­vey We­in­stein: top row (from left), Gwyneth Pal­trow, Rosannna Ar­quette and Mira Sorvino; bot­tom row, Rose McGowan, An­gelina Jolie, Asia Ar­gento and Ash­ley Judd.

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