This has been a week full of awful news about sexual harassment, and it's depressing and exhausting. But the one good aspect that's coming of it all is that people are feeling safer about coming forward with their own stories of being sexually harassed by people in positions of power. Ending the silence is the first step to ending the harassment.
Actor Patricia Arquette tweeted a story about an incident she had with film director/producer Oliver Stone. In a series of tweets, she tells the story of how Stone wanted her to do a movie years ago. The two met and talked about the movie, which was sexual in nature, but the meeting itself was "professional."
Then he sent her long-stemmed roses. Arquette claims that it's not too unusual to receive flowers, but something about it just seemed off to her.
His assistant called to make sure she got the flowers, and then Stone invited Arquette to a screening of Natural Born Killers.
Arquette still felt that something was off somehow, so she asked her boyfriend to accompany her to the movie screening.
Apparently Oliver Stone wasn't terribly pleased that Arquette had brought along another man, but she pointed out the weirdness of that, telling Stone, "Why is it a problem I brought him? It shouldn't be a problem. Think about THAT Oliver."
And that was that. Stone never contacted Arquette about the movie, and that was just fine with her.
Arquette says that she shared her story to demonstrate the "uncertain terrain" that women in the entertainment business (and all occupations, really) are forced to navigate.
She pointed out that encounters like hers tend to be no-win situations for women.
Stone has been in the news today for another reason; allegations surfaced that he groped former Playboy model Carrie Stevens at a party in the '90s. Stone also initially defended disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein, saying:
I'm a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial. I believe a man shouldn't be condemned by a vigilante system. It's not easy what he's going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn't really know him. I've heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I'm not going to comment on gossip. I'll wait and see, which is the right thing to do.
Stone has since backpedaled on his statement, writing on Facebook that he was traveling for the last couple of days and "wasn't aware of all the women who came out to support the original story in the New York Times." He continued, “after looking at what has been reported in many publications over the last couple of days, I’m appalled and commend the courage of the women who’ve stepped forward to report sexual abuse or rape."
Oliver, ever heard of Google? It works even while you're traveling. Look into it.