A new survey published in USA Today found that 94 percent of women in Hollywood have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct at some point in their careers, a statistic that's hardly illuminating given the watershed of sexual harassment allegations that began in October of last year. The Creative Coalition, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and Women In Film and Television collaborated with USA Today on the survey, which was an effort to uncover just how much sexual misconduct actually occurs in Hollywood. The numbers are staggering but unsurprising: Sexual misconduct is universal. It's also important to note that the survey's umbrella of "misconduct" is a broad category that includes many different types of behaviour.
Of the 843 women surveyed, 87% had encountered verbal sexual harassment which includes "unwelcome sexual comments" as well as sexual jokes to or about the survey participant. The survey reports smaller numbers for more blatant forms of harassment. Almost a quarter of responders reported being forced to perform a sexual act. (This number is still high: That means almost one in four women working in Hollywood experience sexual assault.) One in ten participants reported being asked to be naked for an audition without being notified in advance, and about two-fifths reported being shown sexual photos without their consent. Furthermore, only one in four women who reported having experienced sexual harassment said they'd reported it.
These results reflect what seemed clear ever since the New York Times published its exposé of film producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein could only have flown under the radar for so long if he operated within a world with low standards for workplace respect. After the exposé was published in October, actresses began speaking up about their own experiences with sexual harassment. This revived the #MeToo movement, an initiative founded in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke. With a hashtag and a hefty support system, women in Hollywood finally started speaking up about workplace harassment. This led to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, an effort led by Hollywood's most powerful women to correct sexual misconduct in not just Hollywood, but in every industry.
USA Today's survey is essential because it gives concrete evidence of a problem we already know to be true. Now that we have statistics, perhaps something can be done about sexual harassment in Hollywood.
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