Female Animators Demand End to Sexual Harassment in Open Letter: "This Abuse Has Got to Stop"

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'Loud House'

'Bob's Burgers' producer and writer Wendy Molyneux, 'Steven Universe' creator Rebecca Sugar and 'Danger & Eggs' co-creator Shadi Petosky are among an open letter's 217 signatures.

More than 200 individuals in the animation industry have signed an open letter insisting on an end to sexual harassment in the workplace.

The letter was sent anonymously on Thursday to executives at major animation studios, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. It follows the reports of decades of sexual harassment, assault and rape allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, and Nickelodeon's firing of Chris Savino, the creator of the animated series Loud House, whom up to a dozen women have accused of sexual harassment, unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior.

"In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many of the women who work in animation have begun discussing more openly issues that we have dealt with quietly throughout our careers,” reads the letter. “As we came together to share our stories of sexism, sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault, we were struck by the pervasiveness of the problem.”

In light of recent events and in response to the animators' letter, DreamWorks Animation's CEO Chris DeFaria and head of TV animation Margie Cohn sent a memo to that studio's staff saying, "We wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce our company's policy of safeguarding equal employment opportunities and prohibiting harassment of any kind. We stand together in supporting a culture in which individuals can, and are expected to, speak up, and one in which people are held accountable for their actions."

The animators' letter notes that women make up 23 percent of the industry's union employees. "As more women have entered the animation workforce, it still seems that some men have not embraced this change," the letter continues. "They still frequently made crass sexual remarks that make it clear women are not welcome on their crews. Some have pressed colleagues for romantic or sexual relationships, despite our clear disinterest. And some have seen the entrance of more women into the industry as an opportunity to exploit and victimize younger workers on their crews who are looking for mentorship. In addition, when sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job. We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn't safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault. This abuse has got to stop."

Among the demands included in the letter are clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies at every studio; amendments to the Animation Guild constitution to "censure, fine, suspend or expel" members who are "found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild;" and support from male colleagues to "start speaking up and standing up for us. When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong."

The DWA memo also said the company supported efforts by the Animation Guild "to explore additional steps that would help members address concerns within the union."

The animators' lletter concludes, “We resolve to do everything we can to prevent anyone else from being victimized. We are united in our mission to wipe out sexual harassment in the animation industry, and we will no longer be silent.”

Among the 217 women and gender-nonconforming people who signed the letter are Netflix's head of kids programming Jenna Boyd, Bob's Burgers producer and writer Wendy Molyneax, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar and Danger & Eggs co-creator Shadi Petosky, as well as animators of BoJack Horseman, Adventure Time and The Powerpuff Girls.

Oct. 20, 2917, 11:55 AM: Updated to include DreamWorks Animation memo.

Below is the full letter and its 217 signatures. Below that is the DWA memo:

An Open Letter to the Animation Community

We, the women and gender non-conforming people of the animation community, would like to address and highlight the pervasive problem of sexism and sexual harassment in our business. We write this letter with the hope that change is possible, and ask that you listen to our stories and then make every effort to bring a real and lasting change to the culture of animation studios.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many of the women who work in animation have begun discussing more openly issues that we have dealt with quietly throughout our careers. As we came together to share our stories of sexism, sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault, we were struck by the pervasiveness of the problem. Every one of us has a story to share, from tossed-off comments about our body parts that were framed as “jokes” to women being cornered in dark rooms by male colleagues to criminal assault.

Our business has always been male-dominated. Women make up only 23% of union employees, so it’s no surprise that problems with sexism and sexual harassment exist. Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues that primarily affect women, with women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups affected at an even greater rate.

As more women have entered the animation workforce, it seems that some men have not embraced this change. They still frequently make crass sexual remarks that make it clear women are not welcome on their crews. Some have pressed colleagues for romantic or sexual relationships, despite our clear disinterest. And some have seen the entrance of more women into the industry as an opportunity to exploit and victimize younger workers on their crews who are looking for mentorship. In addition, when sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job. We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn’t safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault.

This abuse has got to stop.

The signatories of this letter demand that you take sexual harassment seriously. We ask that:

1. Every studio puts in place clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies and takes every report seriously. It must be clear to studio leadership, including producers, that, no matter who the abuser is, they must investigate every report or face consequences themselves.

2. The Animation Guild add language in our constitution that states that it can “censure, fine, suspend or expel any member of the guild who shall, in the opinion of the Executive Board, be found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.” To craft and support the new language, we ask that an Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee be created to help educate and prevent future occurrences.

3. Our male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us. When their coworkers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.

It has not been easy for us to share our stories with each other. Many of us were afraid because our victimizers are powerful or well-liked. Others were worried that if they came forward it would affect their careers. Some of us have come forward in the past, only to have our concerns brushed aside, or for our supervisors to tell us “he’s just from a different era.” All of us are saddened and disheartened to hear how widespread the problem of sexual harassment still is in the animation industry, and how many of our friends had been suffering in secret.

It is with this in mind that we resolve to do everything we can to prevent anyone else from being victimized. We are united in our mission to wipe out sexual harassment in the animation industry, and we will no longer be silent.

Signed,

Abigail Davies
Ae Ri Yoon
Alejandra Quintas
Alex Mack
Alice Herring
Aliki Theofilopoulos
Allie Splain
Allison Kim
Allison Perry
Alyx Jolivet
Amalia Levari
Amanda Li
Amanda Turnage
Amber Vucinich
Amelia Lorenz
Aminder Dhaliwal
Angela Li
Angelina Ricardo
Anna Hollingsworth
Anna O'Brian
Anne Walker Farrell
Annisa Adjani
Arlyne Ramirez
Ashley Fisher
Ashley King
Ashlyn Anstee
Audrey Diehl
Aurry Tan
Becky Lau
Bethany Lo
Bri Neumann
Brianne Drouhard
Bridget Ore
Brittany Rochford
Cameron Butler
Careen Ingle
Carly SIlverman
Caroline Director
Caroline Foley
Carrie Liao
Casey Follen
Catharina Sukiman
Chelsea McAlarney
Cheyenne Curtis
Chivaun Fitzpatrick
Christina Faulkner
Christine Liu
Citlalli Anderson
Clio Chiang
Daniaelle Simonsen
Danielle Bonadona
Danny Ducker
Diana Huh
Diana Kidlaied
Diem Doan
Elaine Wu
Elisa Phillips
Elise Fachon
Elise Willis
Elizabeth (Betsy) Bauer
Elizabeth Ito
Elizabeth McMahill
Emily Brundige 
Emily Rice
Emily Walus
Emily Quinn
Erin Kavanagh
Eunsoo Jeong
Evon Freeman
Faryn Pearl
Ginny Hawes
Gizelle Orbino
Grace Babineau
Grace Mi
grace young
Haley Mancini
Hannah Ayoubi
Heather Gregersen
Hilary Florido
Hillary Bradfield
Hsuan Ho
Ilana M Schwartz
Jackie Bae
Jacqueline Sheng
Jean Kang
Jen Bardekoff
Jen Bennett
Jenn Ely
Jenn Strickland
Jenna Boyd
Jenny Cho
Jess Marfisi
Jessica Gao
Jessica von Medicus
Jessie Greenberg
Jessie Wong
Jihyun Park
Jill Sanford
Joanna Leitch
Jocelyn Sepulveda
Jordan Rosato
Julia Kaye
Julia Layton
Julia Pott
Julia Srednicki
Julia Vickerman
Julianne Martin
Kaitlyn Ritter
Kaitrin Snodgrass
Karen C. Johnson
Kassandra Heller
Kat Good
Katie Rice
Kayla Carlisle
Kelly Gollogly
Kellye Perdue
Kelsey Norden
Kendra Melton
Kennedy Tarrell
Kiki Manrique
Kiley Vorndran
Kim Le
Kim Roberson
Kimberly Knoll
Kristen Gish
Kristen Morrison
Kristin Koch
Lacey Dyer
Lamb Chamberlin
Laura Hohman
Laura Sreebny
Lauren Duda
Lauren Faust
Lauren Patterson
Leah Artwick
Lily Williams
Lindsay Carrozza
Lindsey Pollard
Lisa Hanawalt
Lissa Treiman
Liz Climo
Lorraine Grate
Lorraine Howard
Lucyola Langi
Lynn Wang
Maaike Scherff
Madeline Queripel
Maggie Kang
Maha Tabikh
Mallory Carlson
Maria Nguyen
Mariah-Rose Marie M
Mariana Chan
Mary Nash
Mayumi Nose
McKenna Harris
Megan Dong
Megan Lloyd
Megan Phonesavanh
Megan Waldow
Megan Willoughby
Melissa Juarez
Melissa King
Melissa Levengood
Michelle Lin
Michelle Thies
Miho Tomimasu
Mingjue Chen
Minty Lewis
Mollie Freilich
Monica Davila
Monica DeStefano
Naomi Hicks
Natasha Kline
Nicole Rivera
Niki Lopez
Nooree Kim
Nora Meek
Patricia Burgos
Phylicia Fuentes
Rebecca Sugar
Rebecca Wallace
Reem S. Ali-adeeb
Rianna Liu
Rikke Asbjoern
Sabrina Cotugno
Sabine Doerstling
Sam King
Samantha Gray
Sarah Johnson
Sarah Marino
Sarah Oleksyk
Sarah Soh
Sarah Visel
Sasha Schotzko-Harris
Shadi Petosky
Sheri Wheeler
Sofia Alexander
Sona Sargsyan
Stacy Renfroe
Stephanie Gonzaga
Stephanie Simpson
Stephanie Stine
Su Moon
Sue Schaller
Sydney Sharp
Talia Ellis
Tara H.
Tara N Whitaker
Traci Honda
Tuna Bora
Valerie Schwarz
Victoria Harris
Wendy Molyneux
Yingjue Chen
Zabrina McIntyre
Zoe Miller

DWA memo:

Dear Colleagues:

DreamWorks has a longstanding commitment to providing a safe work environment, one in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.  

In light of recent events that have deservedly dominated headlines, and in response to the powerful letter sent to the animation community from many of its members, we wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce our company’s policy of safeguarding equal employment opportunities and prohibiting harassment of any kind.  We stand together in supporting a culture in which individuals can, and are expected to, speak up, and one in which people are held accountable for their actions. 

To foster a workplace where employees feel secure, as well as comfortable raising any concern, we provide regular training, including mandatory in-person training for all managers. It is incumbent upon all of us to raise concerns that we see or hear of, and the company provides multiple avenues to do so, including the option to remain anonymous.  These include:

Your manager, or another senior manager

Your HR partners: Trained to respond and address employees concerns, these colleagues are available as you need their support.

Integrity Helpline: Created to allow you to raise workplace or integrity issues, this service is designed to permit you, if you choose, to raise your concern anonymously. 

We treat these complaints very seriously and conduct a fair and thorough investigation.  When we find improper conduct has occurred, we take appropriate action.  We do not tolerate retaliation in any form against individuals who have the courage to raise an issue or lend their support to those who do.

We have no doubt that the Animation Guild takes these issues as seriously as we do.  We support their efforts to explore additional steps that would help their members address concerns within the union.

We are a community of creative storytellers who take enormous pride in what we accomplish together every day.  Maintaining and supporting a work environment that fosters open dialogue is our highest priority. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us, your supervisor, or your HR representative.

Chris deFaria and Margie Cohn

 

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