As part of a new campaign called #ThatsHarassment, Friends star David Schwimmer has directed six short films based on real-life incidents of male on female harassment.
The series is based on an original set of videos produced in Israel, which were written and directed by Israeli-American, Sigal Avin. One of the stories was based on a personal experience of harassment which happened to her when she was starting out as a playwright.
“I realised that I really wanted to see what sexual harassment was instead of hearing about it and reading about it all the time,” Avin told Cosmopolitan. “There was nothing on it, everything was much more violent, or unreal, but there was nothing that showed the gray area of sexual harassment.”
Schwimmer quickly agreed to be involved, brought a studio on board, and gathered a cast including Cynthia Nixon and Emmy Rossum. Four of the original short films were remade and two new ones were added.
One scenario called ‘The Boss’ stars Schwimmer as a senior member of staff at a law firm who makes advances on his assistant.
Another sees a bar worker being trained by a colleague who makes a series of sexist comments before groping her. He even references Trump’s abhorrent refrain: “grab ‘em by the pussy”.
There’s also scenes at a doctor’s surgery, between a photographer and model, a stylist and an actor, and a journalist and a politician.
Of his decision to bring the project to the US, Schwimmer told Cosmopolitan: "I grew up with stories of sexual harassment from my mom.
"Every woman in my family, in my life, has been harassed, except my daughter, thank god, who’s only six."
“When you’ve been objectified your entire life and become accustomed to being a second-class citizen in many, many ways - constantly told that you aren’t worth the same as men, basically, and that your body comes first, or what you look like comes first - it makes a lot more sense to me that a lot of women don’t even recognise when they’re being harassed,” he continued.
“Because you spend your whole life not being treated with the kind of respect that men are automatically given.”
All of the films are chillingly accurate – not just because they are real-life stories, but because they’re all commonplace scenarios any woman could find herself in. They all show a boundary being crossed in an instant, leaving the female character confused and demoralised.
Find out more about the project at the That’s Harassment Facebook page.