Harvey Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company after The New York Times published an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed women he had worked with in the past. Eight women have settlements with Weinstein following sexual harassment incidents.
This narrative is not uncommon in the media industry. Pop culture is littered with stories of male directors and producers taking advantage of young women trying to move up in the world. The fact that a man like Weinstein, who had so much power over the young women he worked with, was able to take advantage of his co-workers for so long is simply unacceptable. But the fact that other professionals in Hollywood allegedly tried to cover up these actions is utterly reprehensible.
Almost every woman has had a Harvey Weinstein figure in her life. It may not be as explicit as the instances that women have come forward with, but casual instances of sexism are common and expected within the media industry.
Ithaca College is home to the Roy H. Park School of Communications, which is boasted as a leader in film education among schools in the U.S. Since high-profile members of the industry have stepped forward and said that actions like Weinstein’s are not only commonplace, but often silenced by other producers, directors and actors, then educators must take it upon themselves to curb this behavior among their students before it grows.
This includes curbing both implicit and explicit sexist behaviors, and it is not an easy thing to ask of anyone. It starts with monitoring speech for microaggressions and unintentionally gendered language and making sure that assumptions and stereotypes are not acted upon. Throwaway comments about a woman’s figure and her physical capabilities should be cut short and addressed, not passed off and ignored.
There must be more sexual harassment training in schools and more discussion about sexism in the workplace, as well as discussion on how to curb it. This is not an issue exclusive to the Park School, or to the college as a whole. This is a universal problem that must be confronted on all fronts.
By intervening with these small actions and becoming aware of the gender inequalities in the industry, there is less of a chance that large harassment cases like Weinstein’s will happen.
Faculty and staff must start at the ground level to make sure there is a holistic change in the film industry, the communications field in general and society as a whole.