In the wake of the allegations of sexual misconduct made against film producer Harvey Weinstein, many women in the public eye have spoken out about their own experiences of harassment and abuse. Lupita Nyong’o, Lena Headey and Kate Beckinsale are among those who have shared stories about Weinstein, while stars including Gabrielle Union, Reese Witherspoon and America Ferrera have discussed their experiences of being harassed or assaulted by other men.
Now, Kate Hudson has joined the chorus of famous women condemning Hollywood’s culture of harassment.
“As a woman in Hollywood, you are a woman in a man’s world,” she told US Glamour. “The people in powerful positions are predominantly men.
“It’s changing rapidly, which is amazing, but it’s definitely [mostly] men.”
Hudson observed that high-profile actresses are subjected to a specific and relentless kind of harassment.
“Women are constantly harassed,” she said. “There are men with telephoto lenses trying to get up your skirt. That’s absolutely harassment.
“I walk out of my house and I’m scared the wind will blow [my skirt] up because then [photos] would be everywhere, my children would see it, and I’d be embarrassed and humiliated. That to me is harassment.”
However, while some experiences of harassment are unique to Hollywood, Hudson stressed that the film industry is not unusual in its gender-power dynamics. She said that since launching athleisure brand Fabletics in 2013, she has often found herself in meetings where there are eight men for every woman at the table.
While she did not claim to have been harassed in these situations, Hudson said she has sometimes felt less confident or comfortable in these environments than she would if there were more women present.
Hudson added that she hopes women will continue to speak publicly about their experiences in pursuit of change.
“These are things that do need to be talked about. You do need to be really blunt about them,” she said.
“All women are tired of eyes being rolled as if we're being sensitive. We’re not being sensitive. You just might not understand that this is what it is.
“It feels horrible. It’s degrading. It’s dismissive. So much needs to change.”
While Harvey Weinstein’s alleged behaviour appears to have been enabled by a Hollywood culture of open secrets and ‘looking the other way’, Hudson is right to note that sexual harassment is not confined to the film industry.
Women around the world, working in industries from fashion to publishing to advertising and media, have spoken out about sexual harassment since the first reports into Weinstein’s behaviour were published.
In addition, #MeToo, a social media hashtag encouraging women to share their stories, went viral and sparked follow-on hashtags from men pledging to change their behaviour. More than 4 million people around the world engaged with the #MeToo hashtag on Facebook within 24 hours, proving – as if it needed to be proved – that it is not only famous actresses who experience sexual harassment and abuse.
We can only hope that Hudson is right, and that the Weinstein case marks the beginning of an ongoing conversation about women’s experiences of sexual harassment.
Images: Rex Features