Just a few weeks ago, Ashley Judd came forward with sexual harassment accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Her account of the alleged incident was published in the New York Times, but that's not the only place she's spoken out. Two days after she appeared on Good Morning America, the actor released a video for Teen Vogue called "How Ashley Judd Stood Up To Harvey Weinstein." And in the powerful clip, Judd not only shares her alleged side of the Weinstein story, but also offers advice to help young women navigate uncomfortable or inappropriate situations. As she explains,
"What is taken from us when we experience microaggressions and sexual harassment and sexual assault is our sense of safety. Our bargaining strategies, and the things that we do in these moments, are healthy reactions to abnormal situations. And whatever we do in these moments is really OK."
Throughout the video, Judd provides sample phrasing like, "inappropriate" and "unwelcome," along with a simple hand gesture signifying "stop." Other example sentences include, "I'm uncomfortable with that and I really need for you to stop," or "I have a hunch you wouldn't say that to a guy, and I need for you not to say that to me." But again, as she makes clear, whatever reaction someone has in these types of situations is OK and not their fault.
Judd recalls her alleged experience with Weinstein in the Teen Vogue clip, explaining, "He had a reputation. Let's put it that way. He just really had a reputation. So when someone like Harvey is like, we're going to have business drinks or I'd like to talk to you about work, the answer automatically is yes." She recounts meeting Weinstein at the hotel, where she claims he "started in on [her] right away," allegedly offering her a massage and allegedly asking if she wanted to watch him take a shower. She then tried to bargain with him, saying if she won an Oscar one day in a Miramax movie, she would let him do something, like touching her, "which, of course, I did not mean," she said. It was her way of escaping.
Weinstein offered a statement to the Times when their story, featuring decades' worth of allegations from Judd and other women, first broke. He said, "I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it." However, his attorney at the time, Charles Harding, told The Hollywood Reporter that they planned to sue the Times for publishing "a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements." Weinstein also spoke specifically of Judd in an interview with Page Six. He told the publication in early October,
"I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now... Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now, I am going to reach out to her."
The film producer has since been fired from The Weinstein Company and kicked out of the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also is reportedly spending time in Arizona after completing a one-week outpatient program, according to TMZ.
In the video, Judd mentions that right after the alleged hotel incident took place, she told her dad, who was waiting in the lobby. She also told other people in the following years, though she explains how she and her father felt stuck:
"Were Dad and I supposed to go to the receptionist at the hotel that sent me up to his room? Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom to report Harvey? We didn't know what to do."
As for why it's such a tough spot, Judd elaborates in the video, "When we do speak up and use our voices, we're shut down." She talks about patriarchal systems of oppression, and how people tend to shame victims, minimizing their experiences. "The perpetrator is shameless and they put their shame on the victim. And then, once they put the shame on the victims, they engage in all of these strategies to keep it there, and then we internalize it and carry it around," she says.
Still, Judd emphasizes the need for "putting the shame back where it belong, which is on the perpetrator and on the society that enables it." And despite Judd expressing frustration in the video that initially telling her story didn't change anything, she ends with a key point: "That doesn't mean that we stop telling." This latest interview with Teen Vogue is just one of several ways the actor is using her voice in the hopes of helping others.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.