Over the course of the last several weeks, hundreds of women have come forward to bring forth allegations and speak about instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and toxic behavior they’ve encountered while working in Hollywood.
Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Mary J. Blige, Jessica Chastain, Saoirse Ronan, and Allison Janney — all incredible actresses starring in films that left or will leave a huge impact on 2017 — unpacked their own experiences in a new roundtable for The Hollywood Reporter. They’re all hopeful for a sea change across every industry, not just entertainment, but that’s merely one of the facets of this illuminating conversation.
For Lawrence, the allegations and scandals that have shocked Hollywood lately aren’t specific to their corner of the arts — or the working world at large. “The big misconception, though, is that this is just in the entertainment industry,” she tells the group. “Once again, the entertainment industry is kind of the stage on which you can see the inner workings of problems that are all over the world. If a flight attendant comes forward about a pilot, it doesn’t end up in the news because nobody knows about it. That doesn’t mean that there’s less sexual abuse going on anywhere else in the world, in any other place of work. But fortunately, we’re starting the conversation now.”
The women go on to tackle a number of tough topics, from Blige embracing tomboy style to avoid unwanted attention (“I just wore baggier jeans and Timberlands and hats turned backward. It took me a very long time to even wear makeup and tight clothes because I had been through so much”) to the financial ramifications of facing such trauma. Stone stressed that these horrific and disturbing instances of harassment and assault wreak emotional havoc while also playing directly into Hollywood’s pay gap, and that women are forced to endure horrible working conditions just to stay employed.
“[It] was essentially saying, if women were paid equally in every industry, this would not be occurring,” she said, referring to an article written by actress Brit Marling. “Women have had to fit into these different boxes for so many years just to get work, and if these things are happening and they bring them to people’s attention, they are much more likely to be fired or to be dismissed than a man in a more powerful position.”
Lawrence echoes that sentiment. “I think a lot of people aren’t coming forward because they’re afraid they’re not going to work again,” she said. “You need to be able to say, ‘This is wrong’ and have somebody do something about it instead of saying, ‘Oh, it’s wrong? Well, you’re fired.'”