More than a year has passed since the revelations of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault rocked the entertainment industry. A flurry of press brought shock and pain. Many were surprised to learn about the sheer number of people who have been victimized while working in film and television. But for many others, the numbers were not surprising at all. For them, the surprise was in the fact that, for what felt like the first time, the world was paying attention.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM) and Wednesday, April 24 is #DenimDay. At Women In Film we honor the survivors who courageously shifted the #MeToo movement into the entertainment industry’s spotlight. Their advocacy has helped close the gap between the secret pain so many suffer in isolation, and the possibility of individual and collective healing. But in order to heal as an industry, we must recognize the courage of these survivors as the gift and the opportunity that it is. Together we can honor the courage of survivors by refusing to forget, and by taking action to ensure safety and equity for all moving forward.
Psychiatrist and trauma researcher Judith Herman reminds us that, “The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness.”
Experiencing trauma, we try to find ways to feel anything but the pain. As individuals and as a community, we have witnessed and experienced atrocities. Our opportunity at this moment is to turn to one another for strength and healing, rather than look away from what we now know to be undeniably true. Together we can ask, what are the systems and structures that were created in the entertainment business to protect perpetrators, and how were those in power invested in preventing survivors from seeking safety and justice? We can expose and address the realities of racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny that intersect the lives of survivors and shape their experiences as victims of sexual violence. We can center the stories of survivors, truly listen, and commit to change.
It takes extraordinary courage to live every day as a survivor of sexual violence.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault while working in the entertainment industry, we can refer you to pro-bono employment attorneys, a free support group, and sliding scale individual therapy.
Please call the Women In Film Sexual Harassment Help Line at (323) 545-0333. Hours are 10am – 5pm PT Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and 2pm – 9pm PT Wednesday.
— Genevieve Winters, Director
Women In Film Sexual Harassment Help Line
What is Denim Day?
The Denim Day campaign began 20 years ago, as an effort to make a social statement with a fashion statement by wearing jeans—with a purpose—on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped the person who raped her remove them, thereby implying consent.
The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape.