Actress Reese Witherspoon is opening up about being a victim of sexual harassment in Hollywood.
The “Big Little Lies” star opened up to Marie Claire about her own experiences and said that she didn’t find the stories of other women who have come forward to be “shocking.”
“Women have been sharing stories in each other’s living rooms and workplaces for as long as I’ve been a working woman. It’s just incredible that the media and the world started believing us all and listening,” she said. Witherspoon added that she believes that women did not come forward in the past out of fear. “There was simply no reason to share your story if the results would be so punitive. That’s why I’ve been working very hard on an initiative called Time’s Up with more than 400 women in my industry to raise money for women to have better resources for on-the-job-harassment lawsuits in their own industries. We are trying to level the playing field for all women and men who have suffered from discrimination, harassment and abuse.”
Since telling her story and hearing the accounts of so many other women, Witherspoon said she thinks that there will be a change from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“I feel a shift, completely, a reckoning of people who have been silent for so long finally coming forward and speaking out, even if their voice shakes, as I know mine did when I told my story,” she said. She previously opened up about being sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16 last fall while speaking at the Elle Women in Hollywood event in October.
During her speech at the event, Witherspoon said, “I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier.”
“[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment,” she continued.
“I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal. For the young women in this room, life is going to be different, because we’re with you, we have your back, and it makes me feel better. It makes me so sad to talk about these issues, but I would be remiss not to,” she finished.
Now, Witherspoon believes that all women, especially female leaders, no matter the industry, need to “stand up for those who are voiceless and silent, and we have to do better to create more balanced cultures with female leadership and leadership with people of color. It’s just profoundly overdue.”
She continued, “We all need to be more aware of the companies we work at and the companies that we do business with, because the consumer is very powerful in this world of social media. Some companies are doing incredibly well with inclusion and diversity — those industries thrive, and abuse goes down when you have more balance at the top.”