On October 5, 2017, the New York Times published an explosive article detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, a major stockholder of The Weinstein Company, one of the largest mini-major film studios in North America. Alleged victims include actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.
They claim that Weinstein forced women to massage him and watch him naked. Weinstein also promised to help advance their careers in return for sexual favours. Weinstein issued an apology, acknowledging he has caused a lot of pain, but disputed claims of rape and non-consensual sex. On October 8, 2017, he was fired as chairman by the board of directors of his company.
Thirteen more women came forward against Harvey Weinstein in a New Yorker article, including Anthony Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, and British actress Romola Garai. Hollywood A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie also said they were harassed by Weinstein during their younger years. Thereafter, Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, who is co-founder of Marchesa, announced that she was leaving Weinstein, and that her priority is their young children.
On October 11, 2017, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) suspended Weinstein’s membership with immediate effect. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, also voted to expel Weinstein’s membership on October 14, stating: “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”
Actress Rose McGowan on Twitter later claimed that Weinstein raped her. British actress Lysette Anthony says Weinstein also raped her at her London home in the late 1980’s, while another, unidentified woman says she was raped in 1992. The UK Metropolitan Police says Weinstein is accused of assaulting three women in separate incidents in London in the late 1980s, 1992, 2010, 2011 and 2015.
Actress Lauren Holly also told a Canadian talk show about a hotel room encounter with Weinstein in the late 1990s. She claims the producer showered and used the toilet in front of her before approaching her naked and requesting a massage. Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey also accused Weinstein of sexually harassing her in Los Angeles. In a series of Twitter posts, the Game of Thrones star says the mogul was “furious” after she resisted his advances and told her not to say anything about their encounter to her manager or agent.
On October 17, Weinstein resigned from the board of the company that bears his name. He, however, still owns 22% of the company’s stock. On October 18, Harvard University announced that it was stripping Weinstein of the Du Bois medal it gave him in 2014 for his contributions to African-American culture. On October 19, actress Lupita Nyong’o accused Weinstein of harassment, claiming that she was lured to his bedroom under false pretences when she was a drama student.
In light of this scandal, a viral #MeToo campaign gained traction worldwide after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged others to speak up to show the world just how common sexual harassment and sexual assault are. “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” she wrote.
As of October 16, 2017, more than 6 million Facebook users were “talking about” me too and the #metoo hashtag was trending on Twitter.