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Comedian Tess Rafferty was scrolling through Facebook last month reading gut-wrenching accounts of her friends’ #MeToo stories of sexual harassment and abuse when the social media platform’s “On This Day” feature offered a reminder of last year’s headline: the release of the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape, in which the future U.S. president boasted that he could grope women because he was famous.
“It was a year later and everyone was again posting these stories,” Rafferty tells The Hollywood Reporter. “All we’re doing is retraumatizing women. They’re reliving the worst experiences of their lives, and we’re doing nothing. I thought, ‘Are we going to be here a year from now?’ We need a big show of action to concentrate all the outrage in one place.”
Rafferty proposed a march, which was immediately met with enthusiastic response. Realizing she had never before planned such an event, she reached out to friends with more experience in activism and advocacy, and those from the Feminist Majority Foundation, Civican and We for She quickly stepped in to help pull together the Take Back the Workplace march, which will take place in Hollywood on Nov. 12.
TV reporter Lauren Sivan, whose graphic account of Harvey Weinstein exposing himself to her in a restaurant kitchen was one of the earliest of now-hundreds of recent allegations of sexual misconduct and assault in the entertainment industry, will serve as celebrity chair of the event.
“I can do a million interviews about what happened with Harvey Weinstein, but everybody [already] knows we have a sexual harassment problem in the workplace. It’s another thing to see the enormity of the problem,” Sivan tells THR. “There’s more power in numbers, and the more noise we collectively make will end this. I hope it’s a show of force.”
So far about 500 people are expected to attend, including Sharon Lawrence, Rae Dawn Chong and Beth Littleford. The march will begin at Hollywood and Highland at 11 a..m. and end an hour later in front of CNN’s Los Angeles bureau on Sunset Boulevard, where a handful of speakers, including California State Senator Connie Leyva and civil rights attorney Areva Martin, are scheduled to address the crowd.
“This march isn’t just against something; it’s also for something,” says We for She founding member Katy McCaffrey, a lit agent at Gersh, who explains that the event will promote Leyva’s proposed ban on confidentiality agreements in sexual harassment and assault settlements. “Those clauses are written to protect the guilty and disempower the victim. Outrage is good, but we’re hoping that this march is the first step to really drill down and accomplish something.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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