#AskHimMore

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#AskHimMore 

It's time for the boys to be "brave."

In recent Hollywood awards seasons, The Representation Project's #AskHerMore social media campaign has called for red carpet reporters to cut the glam talk reserved (almost) exclusively for female stars and treat their film work with the respect it deserves. Now that we know liberal bros aren't the most reliable actors in their behind-the-scenes treatment of women (and houseplants), it's time to level up our demands and #AskHimMore. Just like that period circa 2013 to 2016 when every A-list woman got asked whether she's a feminist, let this be the year when all the Ben Afflecks start getting asked: "What are YOU going to do to make Hollywood a safer, more respectful, and less legally silencing space for women?"

Screw sticking to softball questions like, "Did you know that Harvey Weinstein preyed on young, attractive, and largely powerless women?" or "What do you think?!" Actors' publicists will have already prepped them with a sanitized response. What needs to be asked over and over and over again, getting as many dudes on record as possible, is:

How can YOU influence men in the industry?

How can women in the film industry rely on YOU to break the bro code of silence and step the fuck up on behalf of people who are being discriminated against, taken advantage of, and abused?

Are YOU ready to be "brave" like the women who've stepped forward, risk YOUR reputation, and proactively intervene? And if so, how?

Of course, burning down the Hollywood casting couch isn't as easy as striking a match because it's all part of our cultural set dressing at large. We live in a society where it's assumed that a) women are sexual commodities, b) powerful men prey on less powerful women because boys will be boys, and c) less powerful women will sleep their way to the top if necessary because girls will be girls (i.e. sexual commodities to get what they (want). Hollywood replicates this sexism with abandon, as Sarah Polley recounted in today's New York Times

"On sets, I saw women constantly pressured to exploit their sexuality and then chastised as sluts for doing so. Women in technical jobs were almost nonexistent, and when they were there, they were constantly being tested to see if they really knew what they were doing. You felt alone, in a sea of men . . . Then came the photo shoots in which you were treated like a model with no other function than to sell your sexuality, regardless of the nature of the film you were promoting.

It's as if Hollywood normalcy is so thoroughly misogynistic, anything less than literally paying off millions of dollars to avoid being outed as an alleged serial harasser and rapist is just part of the biz. OH WAIT, IT IS. George Clooney echoed this to the Daily Beast: "I’ve heard rumors, and the rumors in general started back in the ’90s, and they were that certain actresses had slept with Harvey to get a role. It seemed like a way to smear the actresses and demean them by saying that they didn’t get the jobs based on their talent, so I took those rumors with a grain of salt." 

And yet. If you're a Clooney-level influential dude who truly gives a shit about sexism and outright sexual predation, it shouldn't take the reveal of Weinstein's settlements, effectively buying women's silence, to invoke public outrage. Because guess what, fellas: So long as you see (or hear) something and don't say something, your silence has been bought as well. Sociologically speaking, this is exactly the stuff that "locker room talk" and "bro code" are made of. 

Hell, a high-powered Hollywood publicist (a WOMAN, fyi) once  bullied even me (Cristen) by threatening to get me fired and smack me with a libel lawsuit because I reported on-the-record sexual harassment allegations against her client whose name wouldn't surprise you. When it happened, I wasn't so much scared as astounded by the hypocritical lengths the Hollywood machine will go to protect its men. And until we #AskHimMore and start holding men of Hollywood to a higher, more aggressive, and relentless standard of accountability as both actors and bystanders, Weinsteinmania will blow over, and the same abuses will continue across the industry unabated. 

Oh, and to all the journalists asking "Is this a watershed moment?" Just no. No, it's not. Weinstein was booted out of the Motion Picture Academy, but Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby are still members. Bill O'Reilly made a cameo on Fox recently. Pussy-grabbing has never effectively disqualified men becoming President. And how telling that when asked about the Weinstein revelations, our current Predator in-Chief offered one of the most truthful, if glib, responses of his tenure to date: "I'm not surprised."

Neither are we.
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