So Oliver Stone and Risa Baron Garcia have tried to brush off my sexual harassment allegation by saying that I knew the movie was raunchy and that the workspace was safe and that Risa was in the auditions.
They are saying basically, that I knew what I was getting into and therefore should keep my mouth shut.
Well, I am not going to because they are lying.
I went into that audition knowing exactly how raunchy that film was going to be. How explicit. That film was going to be the epitome of sex drugs and rock and roll. It was, after all, the story of Jim Morrison for goodness sake. I knew that so well, I even read a contraband early version of the script because at that time, I was dating a man named Danny Sugerman, who was serving as an unofficial technical advisor as he managed the Doors. The scene I was asked to read in my audition was not in that script. Nor was it in the sides I was given.
I was the last woman to audition that day. I read the scenes for Stone in his office with Risa. Then Stone asked me to stay and read with an actor. He said it was a chemistry read. He told Risa to go home and she left.
As an actor, these developments are very exciting. It means one is that much closer to possibly getting the role. I was thrilled. I really wanted the part.
After Risa left, Stone told me he’d written a new scene and wanted me to read it. He handed me the pages. *It was more than raunchy.
The scene, which is not in the movie involved a fight between Jim and his girlfriend Pamela. It escalated into violence and ended with her on her hands and knees begging Jim to “Fuck me in the ass baby...do it!....fuck me in the ass!...please baby, please fuck me in the ass!”
After I read the scene I expressed my nervousness at being unprepared and about the material being so intense. Stone thanked me for being honest and said everything would be ok. Then he said ,”Whenever you’re ready.” I said I was and then he told me he didn’t want me to just read it, he wanted me to stage it for him. In other words, he wanted me to act it out physically on my hands and knees in his office.
I panicked and began to cry. He said it was ok to cry, that it would make the scene better and told me to get down on my hands and knees and do the scene.
I didn’t. I ran out of the room.
I have since, mostly let it go, mentioning it only to close friends and to my husband, but after all these horrible stories have been surfacing during the last few weeks it has been brewing beneath the surface. All the feelings of humiliation and disrespect came flooding back. Yet, I still wasn’t going to tell my story. I asked a couple of journalists if anyone was talking about him. One said yes and that he’d heard several stories.
So once agin, I felt, like I did with Harvey Weinstein, that everyone knew. Everyone knew but those in power to stop him chose to look the other way.
Since sharing my story, I have been contacted by many women who have had similar experiences with Stone. A female producer reached out to me through and intermediary to let me know she was so sorry and she knew that Stone had been making women do that scene in his office long after he had decided to hire Meg Ryan. A friend of mine was one of those women.
Men like Stone and his kind lord their power over people they consider less than worthy of their respect and I’m sorry Risa Bramon Garcia, that includes you. If we, as women cannot stand up together against this kind of abuse and disrespect, then nothing will change.
So now what do we do with all of this? We are at a tipping point. If we only clean house but not secure it from more predators then nothing will change. We must change the culture that allows the abuse to happen. And in so doing, change the way women are treated not only in Hollywood but in all work places.
We need to create clear boundaries of what is and isn’t consent. We need to change the laws to protect the victims and not the perpetrators. We need to create safe places where abused women and men can come tell their stories without fear of backlash and where they can get help and justice. And we need to do it now, so that in five or ten years, we aren’t hearing that another executive has abused, intimidated and terrified more women.
It is sad but true, that we live in a culture where the man the nation elected as President said “When you are famous, you can do anything you want” with regards to sexually assaulting women. We need to make sure that this will no longer stand. We, as a society, will no longer accept it.
The only way this will happen is if we create the real change that is needed to combat this scourge. Penultimately this will o happen when women are considered equal to men. That means equal representation — in board rooms, city councils, union leadership positions, governorships, state and national senates, congress, and cabinets far and wide. That means equal pay for equal work regardless of whether that work is blue collar or white collar.
Since the primary focus seems to be on the entertainment industry, I think it is up to us to take the lead on defining once and for all, laws and regulations that truly protect women in the workplace. A place where women can be treated with respect, deference and equality.
Imagine that? A world where, with apologies to Thomas Jefferson, “All men ‘and women’ are created equal.” I’m pretty sure that’s what he had in mind when he wrote that. At least I hope so...