The country has been dealt another blow, fresh from the dark underbelly of Hollywood, and it seems the accusations are affirming the fact of women being treated as second-class citizens.
James Toback, director of “The Pick-up Artist,” has been accused of sexual harassment by 38 women. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, the nation has been abuzz with heated conversation over not just the magnitude, but the appalling length of time these allegations span. The New York Times investigation which revealed allegations dating as far back as 1990 yanked the door open for victims to step forward from Weinstein’s ominous shadow and tell the world their emotive accounts.
Like Weinstein, Toback is vehemently denying the accusations, and is essentially trying in vain to brush the matter under the rug. Yet the country demands answers. How can these actions have gone uninvestigated? How could this massive scale of harassment not lead to charges? We should not allow these questions to remain unanswered. The victims deserve answers.
The most unsettling aspect of these allegations is that in the past, Toback has labeled himself as against sexism. I can even recall one of his latest works, “The Private Life of a Modern Woman” being labeled as perhaps one of the only male-directed films that truly captures the struggles of the modern woman. Now with this new lense on the actual James Toback, it is hard for me to see the film as anything more than a mockery of the modern woman.
It is a sad realization that the history of Hollywood is forever tainted by the sexual harassment allegations that have been played down, paid off and silenced. These recent allegations are giving voices to the ones who were told to shut up and sit down. Women like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland are among the stars of the past who knew that stepping forward meant the end to their careers. It is this sickening power to suddenly and meticulously end an actress’s career that the heads of Hollywood have abused since the dawn of cinema. As a society, we should be encouraging women to come forward instead of staying mum. By not encouraging and supporting women to do so, we are essentially allowing these heinous acts to continue.
These same circumstances eerily echo the Bill Cosby allegations in which it took a multitude of women for the legitimacy of the situation to come to light. It should not have to take any more than one accusation for a serious investigation to begin.
James Gunn, director of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” alleges that he has met at least fifteen of Toback’s victims who detailed their ordeal. In a time when bystanders are no longer blameless, one must ask themselves if Gunn going to the authorities or even speaking up sooner could have reduced the number of Toback’s victims. Merely “warning” people is not helping the situation; holding the perpetrator responsible should be the crucial objective.
Thankfully, the faces of Hollywood, as well as a majority of the nation, are coming together to rally behind the victims and condemn the so-called “casting couch” method that has long been rumored to be a large part of many productions.
The victims are faces and names we all know: Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Julianne Moore, Natalie Morales, Rachel McAdams, Selma Blair, and many, many more. Imagine if one of these names was a family member or a friend. How would you feel? What would you do?
Women should not feel sexually obligated when they enter their dream career. Women should not be forced to do anything that men do not have to do in any career. This is the 21st century, and yet women are still treated like second-class citizens when it comes to achieving their dreams. Now is the time for serious discussion and serious changes.