Growing up a daughter of a screenwriter, I had no words to describe my intense discomfort with the entertainment industry. Years would pass before I found language to describe the pressure on girls and women to starve themselves, the relentless rating of physical attractiveness, the hype around sex and sexuality, the assumption that anyone would do anything to be tapped into the club. As a kid, I could have explained none of this. All I knew was that I’d never fit in, and I wished my father had chosen a different profession.
Many aspects of the industry feed directly and indirectly into a culture of rape. The sanctioned, artificial, forced sexuality woven into the fabric of the entertainment industry intensifies the problem, normalizing the sexualization of all interactions. I remember attending a party, and a man approached. He was in his mid 40s and when he leaned down to kiss my lips, I ducked my head and instead offered my hand. He took my hand in both of his and smirked. I still remember his words: “Sweetheart, you’ll never make it in the industry if you don’t change that attitude.” I knew that I didn’t belong in the industry, that the idea of being his sweetheart made me queasy, that whether I allowed him to kiss my lips was entirely my choice. Still, it was a gut-shot to be told that I was pathetically uncool. I was eleven.
Something creepy and dangerous lurked in the shadows, and I grew up on guard, waiting for it to pounce. This type of incident was a part of my ongoing experience in the industry and like most children, I didn’t question the values that my environment considered “normal.” And I was extremely lucky — when I said no, people backed off.
Today, I’m sick at heart as so many reveal how badly they’ve been hurt. I support and respect those who are stepping forward, calling out sexual predators in the industry. They’re showing courage on a level that awes me, and I hope that every survivor of every gender will speak out and be given the support they deserve. I also hope every person who ever used a sexual act as a power-weapon will be held accountable for the damage they’ve inflicted. Beyond the individuals, I hope the industry as a whole owns its role in enabling a sub-culture of sexual abuse.
As a child of the industry, I heard over and over that a good director understands how and when to begin and end a production. If the beginning isn’t compelling from the opening moments, the audience disconnects. If the performance stretches even one minute too long, the audience checks out. We need a new beginning, starting now, paving the way for a future of new endings. So cue the lights, fade to black, and stop. Just stop.
3 responses to “Sexual Values In The Industry”
The entertainment industry sounds so much worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. The only thing I’ve encountered like this was an owner of a bar in my hometown. I grew up in the scottish highlands though so life is somewhat different than somewhere like LA.
When this bar owner exposed his genitals to me and 2 of my friends who were working as waitresses, my friend Laura just kneed him where it hurts as hard as she could. He collapsed on the floor moaning and whimpering and we told him if it ever happened again we’d report it to the police. He didn’t fire us and never tried it again. Guess he kinda accepted it as an appropriate punishment, lol. If only more situations could end like that.
I’m so sorry that happened to you and your friends, and I’m glad you were able to defend yourselves. Thank you for sharing your experience.
It wasn’t a particularly scarring experience in the end, luckily. I think part of it being that this guy wasn’t especially large so we weren’t physically intimidated at all. Just really grossed out.
Once she got him in the balls, he was completely incapacitated so I think we just ended up finding it funny. Obviously many similar situations aren’t as light-hearted though.