Harvey Weinstein expelled from UK film academy over sexual misconduct claims

Posted February 03, 2018 09:51:30

Britain’s film academy has expelled movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, after suspending him last year over sexual misconduct allegations.

The academy, known as BAFTA, said “following the suspension of Harvey Weinstein’s BAFTA membership in October 2017, BAFTA has formally terminated his membership, effective immediately.”

The academy said that although it had benefited from Mr Weinstein’s support for its charitable work, his alleged behaviour was “completely unacceptable and incompatible with BAFTA’s values.”

Last year the disgraced Hollywood producer was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by the board of governors after allegations he sexually harassed or assaulted a number of women over the past three decades.

The organisation behind the Oscars said its board voted “well in excess of the required two-thirds majority” to revoke Mr Weinstein’s membership.

Police in the United States and Britain are investigating allegations of rape and sexual assault against Weinstein, once one of Hollywood’s most powerful players.

Scores of women, including well-known actresses, have accused Mr Weinstein of sexual assault or harassment.

He has been fired by the film company he founded with his brother Bob.


Topics: arts-and-entertainment, law-crime-and-justice, sexual-offences, united-kingdom, united-states

Craig McLachlan files for defamation against ABC, Fairfax

Updated February 02, 2018 07:22:23

Actor Craig McLachlan has filed defamation proceedings against the ABC and Fairfax Media, which reported on allegations he sexually harassed several former colleagues.

Victoria Police is currently investigating allegations McLachlan committed multiple sexual offences while performing in the Rocky Horror Show in 2014.

A joint ABC/Fairfax investigation revealed three women from the 2014 production claimed McLachlan took advantage of his raunchy role as Dr Frank-N-Furter to indecently assault, intimidate and harass them, both on and off stage.

McLachlan has denied the allegations, describing them as baseless.

The Gold-Logie-winning actor has engaged barrister Stuart Littlemore QC and lodged a statement of claim in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

The action came after the producers of the Doctor Blake Mysteries cleared McLachlan of separate claims that he sexually harassed his co-workers, but admitted the show’s workplace culture was “bawdy and crude” and may have offended some cast and crew members.

Two weeks ago, production company December Media hired a workplace consultant, Fiona Bigelli, to investigate claims of sexual misconduct on the set of the top-rating TV show.

December Media said in a statement that Ms Bigelli had interviewed a “sufficiently large number” of people who worked on Season 5 of the production, and had produced a confidential report.

“But there were no findings of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or workplace bullying by Craig McLachlan or any other person on Doctor Blake,” the statement said.

“People highlighted the fact that Doctor Blake’s workplace culture has consisted of, amongst other things, a workplace humour which has been described by many as sexual, lewd, bawdy, ‘Benny-Hill-esque’ and crude and that some of the behaviour relating to this humour may be offensive to people, regardless of the fact no formal complaints have been received.

“While December Media has all appropriate policies and procedures in place with respect to workplace behaviour, the report does recommend some improvements to be in line with world-best practice.

“We intend to implement these improved practices and share them with the rest of our industry”.

Topics: television, television-broadcasting, law-crime-and-justice, sexual-offences, australia

First posted February 02, 2018 07:16:49

Bardot says actresses complain about harassment to get attention

Posted January 19, 2018 07:35:13

French activist and former actress Brigitte Bardot says many actresses sexually provoke film producers to win roles and then complain about harassment to get attention.

Key Points:

  • Bardot says actresses make claims “so people will talk about them”
  • She says actresses come on to producers for roles
  • Bardot starred in more than 40 films

Her comments come a week after fellow French actress Catherine Deneuve sparked an outcry by saying a backlash against men following the Harvey Weinstein scandal had gone too far.

She referred to the #Metoo campaign against sexual harassment as puritanism.

Bardot, one of France’s most famous figures, was quoted by weekly magazine Paris Match as saying that most complaints of sexual harassment by actresses — not by women in general — were “hypocritical, ridiculous and pointless”.

“There are many actresses who are coming on to producers just to get a role,” the 83-year-old said.

“Then, just so people will talk about them, they say they have been harassed.”

Bardot, who became famous in the 1950s, marrying film director Roger Vadim when she was just 18, said talk about harassment was getting in the way of more important topics and said she had never been the victim of sexual harassment.

“I was quite charmed when they told me I was beautiful or that I had a nice little ass,” Bardot said.

“That kind of compliment is nice.”

Often referred to by her initials “BB”, Bardot appeared in more than 40 films and was named as one of the five sexiest female stars of the 20th century by Playboy magazine.

After giving up cinema in 1973, she took up the cause of animal rights and later became an increasingly controversial figure with outbursts against gays, Muslim immigrants and the unemployed.

In 2008, Bardot was convicted for a fifth time in 11 years for inciting religious hatred and insulting Muslims.


Topics: sexual-offences, film-movies, popular-culture, arts-and-entertainment, france

McLachlan allegedly sexually harassed cast and crew on Doctor Blake set

Posted January 13, 2018 00:00:06

An actor and a crew member from the top-rating TV drama The Doctor Blake Mysteries have come forward with allegations Craig McLachlan sexually harassed staff and behaved inappropriately on the set.

Key points:

  • Doctor Blake production company launches investigation amid fresh allegations
  • McLachlan allegedly ‘dry humped’ female crew member, told male crew member he’d ‘prefer a hand job’ to a drink
  • Crew member says inappropriate behaviour occurred ’10 to 15 times a day’

The new allegations include that he held a banana to his crotch and thrust it into the faces of an actress and a director.

He is also accused of “dry humping” a female crew member during the production and telling a male crew member who offered to get him a drink “I’d prefer hand job”.

The TV show is produced by Melbourne-based company December Media, which has put the current production on hold.

In a statement earlier this week it said it had not received any complaints about McLachlan.

But in a statement late on Friday in response to the new allegations, December Media chief executive Stuart Menzies said the company had appointed an independent investigator to talk to all core cast and crew on the series and provide it with a report and advice.

“If these allegations are substantiated, this points to a serious breakdown in the adherence to the policies and procedures that December Media has in place,” Mr Menzies said.

The male crew member told the ABC and Fairfax “there is no possibility that they didn’t know he was up to inappropriate behaviour”.

“I don’t know how blind and deaf you have to be to miss this stuff,” he said.

McLachlan has not responded to questions about the latest allegations.

‘This is the worst set for this kind of stuff’

The crew member who worked on Dr Blake in late 2016, on season five episodes one and two, said he was shocked at McLachlan’s behaviour on set, which seemed to be accepted.

“A lot of the time it was sexual innuendo, sexual joking, talking about sex and that filtered through,” he said.

“And people would laugh and say, ‘It’s all a big joke’.

“But right from the start, in my first few days there I thought, ‘surely not everyone is OK with this’.

“Privately, over time during the two-and-a-half months I was there, people said ‘this is the worst set, for this kind of stuff, that I have ever been on’.

“He’s a star and other people do the same kind of thing because he sets the tone of the place. In my opinion, a lot of it looked like sexual harassment.”

He recalled an incident involving a banana.

“One incident which has stayed in my mind was before we went on set we were doing rehearsals,” the crew member said.

“It was me, the director, Craig and two actors who were just there for the one episode. One was an older man, the other was a young woman in her mid to late 20s.

“At the time she hadn’t really done much at all. Right in the middle of rehearsing this scene, Craig gets up and walks out. He comes back a minute later and he’s got a banana.

“He’s holding it where his crotch is and starts thrusting it into the face of the actress and then into the face of the director and everyone just kind of laughs because what else are you going to do?

“I am looking around the room thinking, ‘what the f**k! Are you serious?’

“That kind of behaviour would happen 10 to 15 times a day.”

McLachlan allegedly humped camera assistant ‘like a dog’

He said on another occasion, he saw McLachlan sneak up behind a female camera assistant and start “humping her like a dog”.

“It was inside Williamstown Town Hall, which was mocked up to look like Ballarat Town Hall,” he said.

“She didn’t react but I’m thinking, ‘that’s not appropriate behaviour’.”

The crew member added that McLachlan made a lewd comment to him.

“I came up to him at lunch and said ‘Craig would you like a drink?’ He said, ‘No thanks, I’d prefer a hand job thank you’,” the crew member said.

“It was at one of the tables at catering. This was on set.”

He said he never complained about the behaviour but that those in charge were often on set and could see it for themselves.

“I was there for only two-and-a-half months and I saw so much,” the crew member said.

“They were there for five years.

Another man, who was an extra on Dr Blake in 2013, told the ABC and Fairfax he saw McLachlan push his crotch into a female crew member and make a lewd comment.

“The scene was set in an apple orchard. I was playing a migrant fruit picker,” he said.

“It was a break during filming at the location, at the orchard. I was just sitting around and Craig came up to a woman, I think she was in wardrobe, and he pressed his crotch against her leg, while she was facing the other way.

“He said, ‘Oops, you got a bit of knob on you’.

“She joked and laughed it off, like it was a common thing.”

The ABC said in a statement on Monday it had received no complaints involving any members of the Doctor Blake cast, who are employed by December Media.

– with additional research by Tracey Spicer

Topics: television-broadcasting, television, sexual-offences, law-crime-and-justice, australia

Prisoner actress speaks up about sexual harassment

Updated January 10, 2018 13:52:56

An award-winning Australian actress claims she has been sexual harassed throughout her career but has been “too frightened” to report it.

Theatre, film and television actress Amanda Muggleton, known for her role in TV drama Prisoner, said she did not speak up because she feared she would not work again.

“I’m not talking about a pat on the bum or anything like that, I’m talking about verbally and physically being touched where I shouldn’t have been touched,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I’m from a generation where you didn’t speak out, you couldn’t speak out for fear of losing your job.”

The Helpmann Award winner recalled one time she was harassed just before going on stage.

“Things have happened to me in the wings in the darkness of theatres, and always just before I was going to walk onstage,” she said.

“[It’s] very, very scary, [but] what can you do? You can’t slap someone.

“I pushed this particular person and I grabbed him somewhere where I shouldn’t have and I squeezed very, very tight and said very quietly, ‘Don’t ever do that again’, and then I had to go onstage and be a certain character.

“That’s one instance that I will never forget, but there has been many.”

Muggleton’s comments come after three women made allegations they were indecently assaulted and sexually harassed by Craig McLachlan during the 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show.

McLachlan has strenuously denied all the allegations.

Victoria Police have confirmed they are investigating reports of sexual offences from two of the women.

Sexual harassment in the film and theatre industry has been in the global spotlight in recent times.

High-profile stars campaigned for a change to the treatment of women at this week’s Golden Globes ceremony, and a speech by Oprah Winfrey calling out sexual harassers went viral.

‘People thought I was fair game’

Muggleton, who reprises her role of renowned soprano Maria Callas in Melbourne Theatre’s Company’s Masterclass this month, said sexual harassment was still going on in Australia’s theatre world.

“It is going to stop but I would say there are plenty of men in this country who are quaking in their shoes at the moment for fear of what will come out.”

She said she believed people “took advantage” of her after she appeared in plays which required her to perform nude scenes.

“I think people seem to see that as a cue that I was fair game. Terrible,” she said.

“Then you start getting a reputation for … she’s easy game because she takes her clothes off.

“No. No, never.”

Bound by fear

Muggleton said she was still worried about coming forward and praised those people in the industry who had spoken out already.

“I think these women who have come out are so brave, they’re much braver than me,” she said.

“There’s something in me that wants to stand up and be counted with them, and maybe I will, I don’t know.

“It’s a very big step to take and I don’t particularly want that kind of publicity … I don’t want that notoriety.

“Because I am the age that I am … I am still completely bound up in that fear of you’ll never work again.”

Topics: film-movies, women, arts-and-entertainment, feminism, sexual-offences, melbourne-3000, vic

First posted January 10, 2018 13:30:14

We don’t need to ban men to stop sexual violence at music festivals

Updated January 10, 2018 13:00:12

This year’s summer music festival season has again been marred by several incidents of sexual assault.

Three incidents of sexual assault were reported at the Falls Festival at Tasmania’s Marion Bay, in a repeat of similar incidents at last year’s festival. And disturbing footage of a man groping a woman at the Rhythm and Vines Festival in New Zealand on New Year’s Eve quickly went viral.

A groundswell of activism around sexual harassment and assault at music festivals is taking place. Australian band Camp Cope’s It Takes One campaign is calling on organisers and artists to change the culture underpinning sexual violence at festivals.

Similarly, the Your Choice movement, which was launched in 2017, promotes cultural change and encourages bystander intervention at music events.

Internationally, the UK-based Safe Gigs for Women works with venues and festivals to eliminate sexual harassment and assault.

All of these developments are occurring alongside an increasing public outcry about the pervasive and systemic nature of sexual violence.

But what do we actually know about sexual violence at music festivals? And what is it about these spaces (and their patrons) that facilitate acts of sexual violence?

How common is sexual violence and harassment?

Social media campaigns like #MeToo have demonstrated that sexual harassment and assault are widespread and not limited to any one social or cultural setting. Nonetheless, a string of high-profile incidents and campaigns suggests that music festivals could be a hotspot for this type of violence.

There is virtually no research on sexual violence at music festivals; we are aiming to change this with our current research project. This lack of research makes it difficult to know how prevalent sexual violence at festivals is beyond high-profile, anecdotal cases that have been picked up by the media.

However, we can draw on research on sexual violence and harassment from other settings to gain some insight into what might be happening at festivals.

Young women are consistently identified as the age group most at risk of being sexually harassed or assaulted. In Australia, women aged 18-34 are the most likely to have experienced sexual harassment in the past 12 months. Also, 38 per cent of 18-24-year-olds and 25 per cent of 25-34-year-olds have experienced sexual harassment in the past year.

Gender- and sexuality-diverse people also face disproportionately high rates of sexual harassment and assault.

These statistics suggest we need to look at the social and cultural locations that young people inhabit when thinking about sexual violence.

Although most sexual assault takes place in private, residential locations between people who know each other, younger people are more likely to experience sexual assault in a wider range of locations and to be assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner.

So, sexual harassment and assault are common experiences in general. There is no reason to assume this is any different at music festivals. Music festivals tend to be geared toward young audiences, and, as such, may constitute the site of sexual harassment and assault against younger women, and gender- and sexuality-diverse people.

Research in analogous settings, such as licensed venues, suggests that sexual harassment and assault are commonplace. One of the co-authors’ research on unwanted sexual attention in licensed venues in Melbourne found that young people perceived this behaviour as being pervasive and commonplace.

A Canadian study similarly reported that 75 per cent of women in their sample had experienced unwanted sexual touching or persistence in bar-room environments.

Music festivals share many features with licensed venues that are likely to facilitate sexual violence. Large crowds of patrons, and the anonymity this provides, can enable perpetrators to sexually harass with apparent impunity.

Consumption of drugs and alcohol in these settings can also work to perpetrators’ advantage. For example, it can help downplay their own behaviour (“they were drunk and didn’t know what they were doing”), or target those who may have overindulged and become incapacitated.

Gender inequality

Australia’s music industry is male-dominated; male artists tend to dominate festival line-ups.

Gender inequality permeates the entire industry. Research shows that women (and, almost certainly, gender-diverse people) are underrepresented, undervalued and underpaid in virtually all facets of the Australian music industry.

Sexual violence is known to be more likely to occur in contexts of gender inequality. This suggests music festivals — and the Australian music industry generally — may provide a cultural context in which the preconditions for sexual and gender-based violence abound.

Changing the beat

Given all this, it’s reassuring that efforts to prevent sexual violence at festivals, and to generate broader cultural change within the industry, are taking place. However, change is slow, and pockets of resistance persist within the sector. This has led some to call for festival boycotts or to ban men from festivals.

The current campaigns feature some promising elements, particularly in their focus on bystander intervention, and encouraging influential artists and industry leaders to call out inappropriate behaviour and take a stand against sexual violence.

More can be done

However, there are many other steps festival organisers could take to prevent or reduce sexual violence, and to ensure they respond appropriately when it occurs. These include:

  • introducing a policy on sexual harassment and assault that takes a zero-tolerance stance against this behaviour. This should include specifying consequences for perpetrators (like being ejected or banned from the festival, and potential legal ramifications). This should be clearly communicated to festival patrons, staff and volunteers, and consistently enforced;
  • training all festival staff, security and volunteers to identify and respond appropriately to incidents of sexual harassment and assault;
  • encouraging artists to take a stand against sexual violence, and to call out any bad behaviour they witness from the stage;
  • running high-profile prevention and bystander intervention campaigns; and
  • ensuring there are clear avenues for patrons to report incidents that occur at festivals.

Such actions need to occur alongside more widespread efforts and interventions. Ensuring all young people receive comprehensive sexuality and respectful relationships education is vital. And continued efforts to tackle the broader issue of gender inequality in the music industry are required.

Bianca Fileborn and Phillip Wadds are lecturers in criminology at the University of NSW. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Sexual assault support services:

  • 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Topics: music, men, women, assault, sexual-offences, internet-culture, australia

First posted January 10, 2018 12:35:04

Long before #MeToo, Italian women railed against ‘bunga bunga’ sexism

Updated January 08, 2018 10:39:07

Italy has long been regarded as being backwards when it comes to gender rights and sexual harassment.

So in many ways, its reaction to the recent wave of revelations about sexual harassment by men in positions of power all over the world was depressingly familiar.

But, at the same time, it also revealed the strength and diversity of grassroots feminism there, despite the odds.

Simona Siri, a US-based Italian journalist, pronounced recently in The Washington Post that “the already present and strong sexist Italian culture now seems almost impossible to reverse”.

This came following the startling backlash against Italian actor Asia Argento after she gave an interview to Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker in which she accused Harvey Weinstein of a horrific sexual assault.

Siri argued that Italy’s entrenched misogyny, embodied by the figure of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, made fighting back futile for Italian women.

Argento’s story was one of the accounts that ignited the #MeToo movement internationally.

But in Italy, she was attacked, and left Italy, troubled by persistent social media victim-blaming.

Many asked why she had continued to have a relationship with the producer after the alleged assaults.

One particularly harsh headline in the right-wing paper Libero read “Prima la danno poi frignano e fingono di pentirsi” — “first they put out, then they whine and pretend to regret it”.

The article featured a particularly provocative photo of Argento and questioned why she hadn’t asked her powerful father, acclaimed horror director Dario Argento, to help her expose Weinstein.

The bunga bunga legacy

Italy’s image as lacking in feminist culture is in no small part due to Mr Berlusconi’s tenure as prime minister — a period marked by multiple sex scandals.

But this also unleashed a successful, popular social movement called “Se Non Ora Quando” (If Not Now, When?) in 2011.

Nearly a million Italians took to the streets to protest against the objectification of women and the so-called bunga bunga culture propagated by those in power.

Alongside the street movement came social media activism.

In one project, Italian women shared 142 videos under the heading “A Country for Women: Words to Say It”.

Each reflected on their lives in Italy and their own experiences of sexism, such as the woman who talks about losing her job due to pregnancy, or the woman who, trafficked to Italy, works to help other vulnerable immigrant women.

Now, many established Italian second-wave feminists are speaking out strongly in support of Argento.

Ida Dominijanni, left-wing journalist and feminist philosopher, and prominent academic author Michela Marzano are among them.

The group “Non Una di Meno” (Not One Woman Less), which campaigns against violence against women, organised a huge protest in November that brought tens of thousands of people to Rome.

They also wrote an open letter in support of Argento. Intersectional feminist blogger Abbatto i muri (I Break Down Walls) also spoke out in support.

Meanwhile, radical collectives from all over Italy such as the Cagne sciolte (Wild Bitches), which fights for LGBTQ and migrant rights, often in an uneasy relationship with their more bourgeois sisters, added their voices too. Cagne sciolte tweeted out in support of Argento:

“Here how we’ll explain it. NO MEANS NO. IF YOU TOUCH ONE, YOU TOUCH ALL OF US.”

A breakthrough

It is important to pay attention to these voices. They are too often neglected in the rush to paint Italy as hopelessly behind the times on gender politics.

And while it may feel like change is impossible in a country where 69 per cent of female university students report having suffered sexual harassment, incremental improvements are happening.

The international context of #MeToo provided impetus for the Italian hashtag #quellavoltache to take off.

This gave Italian women the opportunity to recount their own experiences.

Now, 10 women have accused successful director Fausto Brizzi of harassment. It may not seem like much, but it does represent progress within a sexist film industry that the allegations were immediately perceived to be damaging to Brizzi.

It is clear that Italian women still have a long way to go in the struggle against sexual violence, harassment, and gender inequality at an institutional level.

But the movement is building: as the Cagne sciolte collective wrote before the November protest in Rome (little reported outside Italy):

“We will flood the public space to assert our rights, our practices of daily change, mutual support, and solidarity: the strength of thousands of women, trans and queer together who acknowledge one another in #MeToo, to transform it into #WeTogether.”

Catherine O’Rawe is a reader in Italian film and culture at University of Bristol; Danielle Hipkins is associate professor of Italian studies and film at University of Exeter. This article first appeared in The Conversation.

Topics: sexual-offences, feminism, film, film-movies, women, womens-health, human, human-trafficking, italy

First posted January 08, 2018 10:34:19