As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are continuing to bring sexual harassment and abuse incidents to light at breakneck speed, the onslaught of cases has many people wondering about what laws are actually in place to punish offenders. At the same time, we’re also witnessing an anti-#MeToo wave, notably defined by the open letter from 100 French women, (Catherine DeNeuve, Briget Bardot & Abnousse Shalman included) who are expressing their concerns about going too far with re-writing the culture, like erasing certain actors from films, for example. They warn of a Puritanical wave that could reverse the progress and awareness #MeToo has raised.
Personally I think that sexual abuse has been so rampant for so long that a little collateral damage (like Kevin Spacey getting cut out of his latest TV series, House of Cards) is not the end of the world. I’m not too concerned that a new wave of “political correctness” is going to undermine my freedom to act sexy or allow a date to open the door for me. After all, the “PC police” of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop the devastating number of campus rapes.
In researching my new sexual healing memoir with solutions for sexual abuse survivors, over the last several months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the subtle differences between types of sexual harassment and abuse. To borrow a phrase from Facebook: “It’s complicated.” For example in 1981, when Harvey Weinstein bought a British movie that I starred in called Spaced Out, Miramax paid for me to go to Chicago to promote it. He invited me to his suite at the Intercontinental Hotel to meet him for the first time. When I arrived, his door was slightly ajar, so I peeked in to see him sitting in a bathtub with his back to the door. I called out to him and he turned his head with a smile and said, “You can come in to wash my back if you like.” I giggled nervously and said, “No thanks, I’ll meet you downstairs in the bar,” and left. It was an unmemorable experience which I personally did not describe as harassment. The sexual predators of my past had so influenced my behavior that it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was abusive in any way. I even laughed it off with comedian Bob Saget who was there promoting the same movie, as Miramax had replaced the original British spaceship’s computer voice with Bob’s American one. But another woman might have been devastated by the exact same experience, and be completely within her rights to call out his inappropriate behavior.