Gretchen Mol Breaks Silence on Harvey Weinstein and Misogynistic Rumors (Guest Column)
"The shameless behavior of this powerful man found shameless co-conspirators in people hiding behind screen handles, who then tried to push their foulness onto women who are blameless," the actress writes.
I am angry and disgusted about Harvey Weinstein's abuse of power and his shameless assaults against women. This kind of abuse of women is grossly familiar, and for many of us, it's hard to muster up surprise. I feel deeply for the women who had to deal with and navigate his incredibly entitled, bullying, revolting and inexcusable behavior. I am grateful to them and applaud their bravery in speaking out.
For 10 years or so, I've been aware of rumors that I had some kind of transactional relationship with Harvey Weinstein. They seemed to start on a gossip website that made money by peddling "blind" items. A few facts had been taken from my Wikipedia page, were combined with stories about a movie mogul who was known for harassing women, quotes from "reliable sources" were added and a malicious, viral rumor was born.
Over the years, it was gleefully embroidered, becoming increasingly bizarre and baroque — but the salacious, slut-shaming and misogynist message to the fable remained the same: In Hollywood, a young woman must build her career by humiliating herself and sleeping with powerful men.
Since Jodi Kantor's New York Times piece about Harvey Weinstein was published, I've watched how these rumors about me have become "well-known facts" in some comment sections, shoddy blogs, and on Twitter. I've been challenged, as one of the silent victims, to summon the courage to speak out.
I had always taken some small comfort that the rumors about me were a very trivial needle lost in the haystack of toxic misinformation on the internet, until The New York Times called. I spoke with Ms. Kantor and, later, Ronan Farrow, whose devastating piece I just read in The New Yorker. I knew my account wouldn't make it to print; it's not newsworthy. But the omission would cause the rumors to persist and deepen.
People will believe what they want to believe, but I now feel compelled to answer publicly:
No. I did not exchange sexual favors with Harvey Weinstein, or anyone, for advancement in my career. I was never paid any settlement. The truth is that I have never been alone in a room with Harvey Weinstein. The extent of my interactions with him has been a handful of polite hellos at various premieres and award shows. This is in no way a defense of this person, it is merely a statement of fact.
I had heard similar rumors about other actresses and Harvey Weinstein for years, even before I heard them about myself. I knew that it was not true in my case, so I naively assumed it was equally false in general. The consistent implication was that actresses were eager for the bargain, that we wanted fame and fortune so desperately that we would make this kind of nauseating concession. This is another kind of misogyny, and blame-shifting.
It makes the victim complicit. The facts that are known are much simpler, and there is only one person to blame — a perverse, power-drunk man who sexually assaulted women. The rapist classically claims the victim wanted it, or was asking for it. Gossip bloggers sold that same garbage, and it was heartbreaking how many people were ready to believe it.
This ordeal, though minor, hasn't been a small thing in my life. I know that the impact this has had on me is nothing compared to the trauma of a direct assault. But I feel that they are related. It has many times filled me with a feeling of helplessness, anger and shame.
The shameless behavior of this powerful man found shameless co-conspirators in people hiding behind screen handles, who then tried to push their foulness onto women who are blameless. Toxic shame transfers from the perpetrator to the victim. I hope my colleagues, those women who have been affected by this abuse, can put this poison aside. We have no reason to feel ashamed.