3 Years After #MeToo, Two-Thirds of Women Experience Harassment in Hollywood, Anita Hill-Led Survey Finds

42% of women experienced unwanted sexual attention while 5% reported being assaulted

Me Too Survivors March
Photo credit: Getty Images

Three years after #MeToo rocked Hollywood, two-thirds of women said in The Hollywood Commission’s survey that they still experienced some form of gender or sexual harassment in the entertainment industry even as Hollywood has worked on change.

The latest results from the Hollywood Commission, which is chaired by Anita Hill and co-founded by Kathleen Kennedy and Nina Shaw, found that of its 9,630 anonymous respondents, 67% of women experienced some form of gender harassment in the 12 months prior to taking the survey, be it demeaning jokes, crude comments or insults that have long been dismissed as “locker room talk.”

And 42% of women say in that span they also experienced unwanted sexual attention, 20% reported being sexually coerced, and 5% reported being sexually assaulted.

In all three cases of sexual harassment, coercion and assault, women endured this behavior in Hollywood approximately twice as often as men (22%, 9% and 2%, respectively). And women aged 24-29 reported the most gender and sexual harassment of any group over the 12-month span, with nearly 80% reporting gender harassment and over half reporting unwanted sexual attention.

“In each category, participants point to high rates of undesirable conduct that continues despite efforts to curtail it. The entertainment industry can and must do better,” Hill said in a statement.

The Hollywood Commission estimates that across their lifetime, one in five women and one in 10 men have experienced sexual assault in the workplace. For women between the ages of 65 and 74, one in three women have already reported or experienced assault in their lifetime. The survey found these details largely consistent based on race and ethnicity between genders or between those with disabilities, though those with disabilities reported sexual assault twice as often as those without.

The entertainment industry in particular poses challenges for workers who have bounced around between different sets and gigs, with the Commission finding that the more jobs a production worker had in a year, the more sexually harassing behaviors they encountered. Those who worked 10 or more jobs in a 12-month period reported experiencing about twice as much sexual coercion (25%) and assault (5%) as those who worked only one job (11% and 2%, respectively).

The latest results of the survey also reiterates findings from previous reports that men with influence and power are the most common perpetrators of harassment, coercion and assault, with women saying that they experience harassment overwhelmingly (95-98%) from male offenders. It also added that in cases of gender harassment and unwanted sexual attention, other coworkers and peers more often are the ones harassing than even those with more power and influence.

These survey results are the latest in a series of reports The Hollywood Commission has put out, with previous reports focusing on a lack of accountability in Hollywood, continued workplace bias and the extent of bullying in the industry, particularly directed towards subordinates and assistants by people in power.

The Commission between Nov. 2019 and Feb. 2020 conducted an open survey of Hollywood workers that received 9,630 anonymous responses, as well as over 3,000 narrative responses, many of which paint a shocking picture of the extent of harassment and assault that continues in the industry.

“I have worked in the industry for 20 years. I have been sexually assaulted and subjected to unwanted touching more times than I can count,” one anonymous respondent said. “I have been demeaned because of my gender. I have witnessed far worse happening to other people. I still see the same level of abusive behavior directed at younger, more vulnerable people. I have reported through supposedly confidential processes and then been the victim of retaliation. I have no confidence that the situation is improving, despite the public statements by industry leaders professing to want to make change.”

“An unfortunate byproduct of #MeToo is that the supposedly less egregious conduct (i.e. anything not physical or sexual) is brushed off as it is not, relatively speaking, that serious,” another wrote.

Respondents do however feel that there has been some progress, with 69% of respondents saying things have changed since #MeToo exploded in October 2017. And 95% of the survey’s respondents said that they would value a helpline, a website or other resources to better report. Others demanded stronger codes of conduct within organizations and an online guide to help codify terms and instances of gender harassment.

But the Commission is also newly recommending a production field manual, or a document that would provide best practices and an employer checklist for tips and sample policies about how to make investigations transparent, how to provide informal and formal mechanisms to raise concerns and how to establish consistent standards to hold all offenders accountable, regardless of position.

Read the findings of the survey’s previous reports on accountability, bias and bullying, and check out TheWrap’s discussion with Anita Hill and Nina Shaw here.


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