This Monday, jury selection will begin in the criminal trial of Harvey Weinstein. Throughout his career, Weinstein abused, manipulated, bullied and sexually assaulted hundreds of women. I am one of the many that he has harmed. His criminal acts reflect an industry that condones toxic and dangerous work environments for females who are expected to keep quiet on the set. But the film industry is not singular in its abusive ways toward women.
In this #MeToo era, it is still the norm for women not to be believed. As we watch the Weinstein trial in real time — and his lawyers collect hefty sums to dismiss the truth and discredit the brave survivors who will take the witness stand — now, more than ever, we must support these women to see that justice is served. Make no mistake that this landmark case will affect the number of assaults and rapes that are reported and prosecuted. If we see that money and power can buy a get out of jail card, it sends a strong message to women that their truth will be always be challenged.
The same is true for the life force responsible for the water we drink and the air we breathe, Mother Nature. Like the countless survivors who are subjected to scrutiny and blame for crimes that take place inside their bodies, our earth is being violently assaulted. Her roots have been torn out of the soil; her sorrow is flooding our land. We see her anger burn like wildfire. We feel her trauma in the sinking earth and we do nothing to help her.
The parallels between the climate change crisis and rape are as clear as a blue sky. As a longtime activist for both issues, my hope is that the only time we are looking backward is to learn from our mistakes. When we say times up, we are pointedly speaking to both the abusers and the proactive climate-change denial by the Trump administration. Both are national emergencies that are largely ignored by our representatives.
It took a choir of women’s voices, centuries of abuse and bloodshed for the pendulum to swing in the other direction on abusive behavior against women. When women in film like me and many others — the silence breakers — banded together in solidarity against the gross misuse of power in our industry, the time was finally “right” for people to wake up and take notice. We, along with male allies like Ronan Farrow, were able to amplify Tarana Burke’s #MeToo battle cry into a movement and demand that predators be held accountable for their actions.
The silence breakers who exposed themselves in going public with their experiences were not only hoping to create change for women in Hollywood but in our culture at large. While film is a visual medium, a character is only as good as his or her voice. It is dialogue that tells the story.
Mother Earth needs our help too. Every human life is dependent on protecting our planet. We breathe her air, drink her water and bask in her sunlight. Yet, we have violated and abused her. We have ignored her cries for help.
Women are innately connected to the earth’s ability to grow and give life. Mother Earth is #MeToo. We have shared trauma that needs nurturing and healing. It is our responsibility to help her by adopting natural climate solutions and a planetary health diet, leave fossil fuels in the ground and restrict emissions.
These two movements are intrinsically intertwined. They both require us, as a society, to find common ground, to respect one another and the earth we dwell upon. To look at what we can do right now to support both causes. To create and speak a language that we all can acknowledge and understand, one of hope, peace and change.
As we begin not only a new year but a new decade, women are reclaiming their freedoms by seeking a better, safer and kinder world to live in. I want more for myself, for other women, for my daughter. We deserve to walk this earth without trepidation of being verbally, physically or sexually attacked on a daily basis.
If you don’t know where to begin, look no further than the many fearless heroines leading the charge. If 16-year-old Greta Thunberg can see the error of our ways and dedicate her young life to raising awareness and demanding transparency and change, we can too. If Jane Fonda can band together environmentalists and supporters to protest with her #FireDrillFridays, we can too. If the simple but profound phrase #MeToo answered the cries of millions of people who had been sexually assaulted, we can muster the same kind of advocacy to combat climate change.
There will always be people who seek to destroy rather than protect our earth and the people who inhabit it. With all change, there are growing pains but as a collective community, we rise above the discomfort and discrimination with steadfast determination and heart. We dig our heels into the soil to preserve and nurture it and the women who have been harmed. We will be louder and stronger than animosity and ignorance and step into our organic roles as organic warriors, the way Mother Nature intended us to.