Allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein encouraged a number of women in the entertainment industry to speak up about the abuse they have faced during their careers.
Scores of notable female celebrities — including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose McGowan, Asia Argento, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, Rosanna Arquette, Cara Delevingne, Léa Seydoux, Louisette Geiss, Heather Graham, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence and Hilarie Burton, to name a few — have since opened up about experiencing unwanted advances and more from Weinstein and others like him.
Recently, former '80s movie queen Molly Ringwald wrote an op-ed in The New Yorker titled “All The Other Harveys” to highlight the scale of sexual harassment in Hollywood. Doing so, she also exposed another widespread yet rarely talked about problem of the industry: the sexual abuse of child actors.
“When I was 13, a 55-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection,” Ringwald wrote. “At 14, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process. And all this went on despite my having very protective parents who did their best to shield me. I shudder to think of what would have happened had I not had them.”
It is sad and sickening to imagine a young child going through something like that — particularly when the harassers are authority figures the victim is too afraid to call out.
“The Breakfast Club” alum also shared an equally disturbing story about another Hollywood executive. Though she did not name him, given the details, it was not hard to figure out who she was referring to.
“The head of a major studio — and, incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations — was quoted as saying, ‘I wouldn’t know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face,’” the actress continued.
A quick Google search led to a Movieline article from 1995, which attributed the disgusting quote to Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios and former CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
As mentioned in Rignwald’s op-ed, Katzenberg recently called Weinstein a “monster” for his alleged crimes against women.
Once the media started linking him to the gross quote, Katzenberg released an apology.
“That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me,” the 66-year-old said. “Anyone who knows me now or back then knows I do not use language like that as a matter of course, or tolerate it. Ms. Ringwald, 22 years too late, I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
Well, as Katzenberg put it himself, he is 22 years too late.
“I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get repetitive,” the actress responded. “Then again, that's part of the point.”
Ringwald is certainly not the only celebrity to have gone through this horrific experience as a kid.
Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon has also opened about being sexually assaulted by an unnamed film director when she was only 16.
“I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate. A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action,” she said, according to Elle. “True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t.”
The “Big Little Lies” star also spoke up about how watching other brave women speaking about their assaults encouraged her to come forward as well.
Witherspoon’s heartbreaking comments are a testament to the prevalence of child abuse in the industry — and with conversation about sexual assaults dominating the headlines, it is about time we begin to highlight this issue as well.
Thumbnail/Banner: Pixabay, Nickbar