Léa Seydoux and Cara Delevingne.
Over the past week, 26 women have come forward with disturbing stories of encounters with Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein. This ever-growing list includes actresses and former employees of Weinstein who allege sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. The experiences that have been detailed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, op eds, and personal statements share some horrible similarities; Most of them take place in a private setting like a hotel room or an office where Weinstein makes inappropriate comments, attempts to coerce women into sex by forcing them to either receive or give a massage, exposes himself, masturbates in front of them, or performs sex acts without their consent. It’s dark and disgusting stuff.
Cara Delevingne and Léa Seydoux added their names to the list of Weinstein accusers overnight. In an op ed for The Guardian, Seydoux said that Weinstein treated her as a sexual object and tried to force himself on her. “When I first met Harvey Weinstein, it didn’t take me long to figure him out,” she writes. “He wanted to meet me for drinks and insisted we had to make an appointment that very night. This was never going to be about work. He had other intentions – I could see that very clearly.”
“All throughout the evening he flirted and stared at me as if I was a piece of meat,” she continues. “He acted as if he were considering me for a role. But I knew that was bullshit. I knew it, because I could see it in his eyes. He had a lecherous look. He was using his power to get sex.”
Later that evening, she recounts:
“We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me. I had to defend myself. He’s big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him. I left his room, thoroughly disgusted. I wasn’t afraid of him, though. Because I knew what kind of man he was all along.”
Seydoux says that she saw Weinstein behave in an aggressive and predatory way on a number of occasions:
“Everyone could see what he was doing. That’s the most disgusting thing. Everyone knew what Harvey was up to and no one did anything. It’s unbelievable that he’s been able to act like this for decades and still keep his career. That’s only possible because he has a huge amount of power.”
Seydoux adds that her experiences with Weinstein were not an isolated event in her career as an actress; One male director she worked with tried to kiss her, another said “I wish I could fuck you”, and another filmed long sex scenes for several days then re-watched them over and over.
“If you’re a woman working in the film industry, you have to fight because it is a very misogynistic world,” she explains. Adding that, “This industry is based on desirable actresses. You have to be desirable and loved. But not all desires have to be fulfilled, even though men in the industry have an expectation that theirs should be. I think — and hope — that we might finally see a change. Only truth and justice can bring us forward.”
Cara Delevingne also shared a disturbing statement about her experiences with Weinstein. “When I first started to work as an actress, I was working on a film and I received a call from Harvey Weinstein asking if I had slept with any of the women I was seen out with in the media,” she writes. Before the call ended “He said to me that if I was gay or decided to be with a women, especially in public, that I’d never get the role of a straight woman or make it as an actress in Hollywood.”
Two years later, Delevingine met with Weinstein in his hotel lobby. “As soon as we were alone, he began to brag about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had made their careers and spoke about other inappropriate things of a sexual nature. He then invited me to his room. I quickly declined and asked his assistant if my car was outside. She said it wasn’t and wouldn’t be for a bit and I should go to his room. At that moment I felt very powerless and scared but didn’t want to act that way hoping that I was wrong about the situation,” she recalls.
She arrived to find another women in the room, but her initial relief at this disappeared when Weinstein requested that they kiss. Delevingne ignored this request and asked Weinstein if he knew she could sing, trying to remain professional by treating the situation like an audition in the face of this gross proposal.
“After singing I said again that I had to leave. He stood in front of [the door] and tried to kiss me on the lips. I stopped him and managed to get out of the room. I still got the part for the film and always thought that he gave it to me because of what happened,” she writes.
Delevingne hopes that her statement will help other women to come forward in Hollywood and beyond:
“In every industry, especially in Hollywood, men abuse their power using fear and get away with it. This must stop. The more we talk about it, the less power we give them.”
The list of women that have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault so far includes actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, and former Weinstein Company employees Lauren O’Connor, Emily Nestor and Lauren Madden, just to name a few.
It’s hard to pinpoint the most disturbing part of these unfolding events — the fact that this was clearly an open secret in Hollywood, the fact that almost 30 women are already on the record, the fact that very few men have come forward to condemn Weinstein — all of it adds up to an extremely toxic culture that definitely isn’t exclusive to Hollywood.
Where are all the men?