Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno was asked if she has ever been sexually assaulted, and now, women are reacting to her victim-blaming response with this powerful new hashtag.
We all know the power of hashtags, whether it’s #blacklivesmatter, which brought together black people speaking about their experiences of systemic racism, or #MeToo, where women shared their stories of being sexually assaulted. And now, there’s a new hashtag taking over Twitter, and it’s been triggered by an interview with the lawyer defending Harvey Weinstein.
Donna Rotunno was recently interviewed by Megan Twohey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who helped break the Weinstein story, for The Daily podcast for The New York Times. When Twohey asked Rotunno whether she had ever been sexually assaulted, she said she had not – because she had “never put herself in a vulnerable circumstance”.
“I have not,” Rotunno said. “Because I would never put myself in that position.” When Twohey asked her whether she meant she had never been sexually assaulted because she had never allowed herself to be sexually assaulted, Rotunno said: “No, I have always made choices from college-age on where I never drank too much; I never went home with someone I didn’t know; I never put myself in a vulnerable circumstance.”
The interview and Rotunno’s victim-blaming response quickly sparked a strong reaction on Twitter from women, including Rachel Hollander, an American lawyer and former gymnast, who tweeted encouraging women to “tell Weinstein’s lawyer what position you ‘put yourself in’”.
Sharing her own experiences, Hollander wrote: “1. In a Bible study. I was 7. 2. In the care of a famous doctor. #WhereIPutMyself”
Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse disgraced former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault. She was also one of the many women who testified in court about what he had done to her and how it had impacted her life.
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison after more than 150 women and girls said he had sexually abused them over the past two decades.
Many women responded to the tweet, sharing their own powerful stories with the hashtag. “In gymnastics practice. I was 10-11. #WhereIPutMyself,” one wrote.
Another commented: “In a sleeping bag, trying to go to sleep in my cabin at summer camp. #WhereIPutMyself”.
“At my best friend’s house,” someone else wrote.
“I was walking across the street to get a sandwich,” one person wrote.
Another added: “Working at a university hospital.”
Yet another said: “The women’s bathroom shower in my college dormitory.”
“In the passenger side of his truck on our first date. I didn’t realize we were taking a detour to the woods,” someone else wrote.
In response to people’s tweets, Denhollander later tweeted: “The replies on this thread are worth every minute of reading and absorbing. Send a message with #WhereIPutMyself.”
We hope by now that Rotunno has received the message loud and clear: victim-blaming is never ever acceptable.