Television reporter Lauren Sivan spoke out about her sexual assault allegations against big-time Hollywood producer and Miramax co-founder, Harvey Weinstein.
During a segment of the “Today” show with Megyn Kelly on Monday, Sivan described an experience in which Weinstein allegedly cornered her in an empty restaurant and forced her to watch him masturbate in front of her.
Before Sivan’s public appearance, Weinstein’s alleged misconduct was exposed last week in a scathing New York Times report that detailed decades of this kind of behavior. By Sunday, he was removed from his own powerhouse film studio, The Weinstein Company.
“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company — Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” the Weinstein Company said in a statement on Sunday.
Sivan described her experience with Weinstein as “disgusting and kind of pathetic.”
She went on to emphasize the “demeaning part of it all,” which stuck with her strongly.
“Twenty minutes earlier he was having this great conversation with me,” she said. “And I felt so great and flattered by it. And then [to be told to] stand there and be quiet just a few minutes later just negated any warm feelings I had.”
Sivan also explained to Kelly why she has just decided to go public about the encounter despite the incident occurring more than a decade ago.
“There’s that feeling that I’m sure so many women feel of shame, of perhaps ‘I did something to give him the wrong impression, maybe I was flirty, or maybe I gave him the wrong impression, and that’s why this happened,’” Sivan explained.
All too often, society blames the victim for their own sexual assault whether it is because of what they were wearing, or if alcohol was involved, or if they didn’t try fighting off their attacker, which causes many of these survivors to begin blaming themselves. This is the familiar feeling that Sivan described.
In addition to victim-blaming, there’s the element of Weinstein being in a position of power and the concern that his word would be taken over hers or that she would be retaliated against for speaking out.
All of these fears are common deterrents for women and sexual assault victims, in general, to come forward about their experiences. This poignant reality is not likely to change unless rape culture is erased from our society.
This is just the latest in a string of major sexual harassment scandals in the entertainment industry that have come to light. In fact, Kelly actually accused her former Fox News colleague and boss, Roger Ailes — before he died — of sexual misconduct, leading to her leaving the network and joining NBC.
This behavior is evidently deeply woven into the Hollywood culture. However, the women coming forward to expose these predators are taking brave steps toward changing these misogynistic practices once and for all.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, LUCY NICHOLSON