Will Harvey Weinstein’s fall finally reform men? (cont’d)

Several of these men have accepted some degree of responsibility for their behavior. Former President George Bush, now 93 and using a wheelchair, apologized last week after multiple women said he groped them and whispered a crude joke during photo ops. He described it as an “attempt at humor.”

Let’s not forget — let’s not ever forget — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, three giants of American popular culture who treated women despicably for decades, and paid a price, whether through criminal prosecution, public humiliation, job loss or forking out tens of millions of dollars in hush money. #MeToo, indeed.

This reckoning is all to the good, even if it is far too late. It feels as though a real and lasting transformation may be afoot — until you remember that this isn’t the first time women have sounded the alarm.

Remember Anita Hill, who told a firing line of skeptical senators the story of constant harassment by her boss, Clarence Thomas, more than 25 years ago. The lawmakers, every one of them male, seemed less concerned with the alleged misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee than that a woman would drag such a tawdry subject into the halls of Congress. While Ms. Hill’s brave testimony prompted a sharp rise in sexual-harassment claims, she was vilified in public; nearly twice as many Americans said at the time that they believed now-Justice Thomas’s account of what happened over hers.

Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.

Then, of course, there’s the current occupant of the Oval Office, who won the election only weeks after the public heard him brag about grabbing women’s genitalia, and who once said that if his daughter were ever sexually harassed at work, she should go find a new job. That president leads a party intent on passing laws that would re-establish gender norms and hierarchies from the middle of the last century (Defund Planned Parenthood! No abortions after six weeks!) — making it harder for women to attain the social equality and economic independence that would go a long way toward reducing sexual harassment in the workplace.

In other words, even the highest-profile opportunities to change America’s endemic culture of sexual harassment, which is overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, committed by men against women, can somehow be lost or swept away. How do we keep that from happening again?

And how do we ensure that progress filters down to average American workplaces, where sexual harassment occurs all the time but rarely gets media attention? The answer is part cultural, part economic and part legal.

The most conservative estimates say 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, although the real number is surely much higher, since only a small fraction of such behavior is ever reported. As many as 90 percent of workers who are harassed never file a formal complaint, according to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which receives more than 12,000 complaints of sex-based harassment each year.

The reasons for this silence are obvious: Women fear retaliation, indifference or disbelief if they speak up. If it’s hard for rich and famous people, so many of whom kept silent in the face of Mr. Weinstein’s well-known depredations, imagine how much harder it is for someone with no political or economic power. But the Weinstein saga also illustrates what a difference it can make when women join together — and men join with them — to confront harassers openly.

HOW TO CHANGE THE CULTURE The key is to foster work environments where women feel safe and men feel obliged to report sexual harassment. “People need to be afraid not just of doing these things, but also of not doing anything when someone around them does it,” Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told The Times’s Nicholas Kristof last week. “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”

But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join.

IT’S ABOUT POWER AND MONEY Sexual-harassment culture is tied directly to the economics of the workplace. Since harassment is about power, it’s no surprise that it thrives in industries where women are systematically kept out of powerful roles — and paid less for doing the same work as men. (This may help explain why sexual-harassment cases make up nearly half of all harassment complaints from the private sector, but less than 10 percent of those from employees of the federal government, where women have more opportunities to rise to positions of authority.)

Too often, male harassers use their economic power to silence women, as Mr. Weinstein and Mr. O’Reilly did repeatedly, offering them hefty payments in return for signing nondisclosure agreements. If employers were more responsive and harassment cases were easier to pursue in the courts, there would be fewer of these settlements, which can be good for individual women but allow the predatory behavior to continue unchecked.

One compromise could be to require businesses to report how many sexual-harassment claims they settle every year, or even how many complaints they receive. This would at least give prospective employees a chance to assess how bad the problem is at a given company, and could lead to greater public scrutiny in more extreme cases.

LEGAL BARRIERS The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion and other protected classes. Twelve years later, it made employers liable for supervisors’ harassment of workers. But in 2013, the court stepped backward, ruling that employers are liable only for racial or sexual harassment by a supervisor who has the power to fire a worker or prevent his or her promotion. In a 5-to-4 ruling, with only male justices in the majority, the court held that employers are not automatically liable for harassment by the larger number of supervisors who don’t have that power, even if they control all other aspects of a worker’s daily activities.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision ignored the realities of the modern workplace, and the “particular threatening character” of a supervisor’s power and authority, even one not vested with the power to fire. A worker who confronts a harassing supervisor risks “receiving an undesirable or unsafe work assignment or an unwanted transfer. She may be saddled with an excessive workload or with placement on a shift spanning hours disruptive of her family life.”

Congress could and should overturn that ruling today by passing a law that reinstates the broader and more realistic definition of a supervisor. But good luck with that; Capitol Hill can’t even keep its own house in order. Representative Jackie Speier of California, who said she was sexually assaulted years ago when she was a congressional staff member, told Politico on Thursday that the compliance office tasked with handling harassment complaints is “toothless,” and said that Congress has been “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”

This may turn out to be the year when the tide finally turned on sexual harassment. The elements for a permanent cultural shift are certainly in place. More women have entered the work force, and the pay gap with men is closing, though not fast enough. More women than men are graduating from college; more are earning advanced degrees; and increasing numbers are managers, though the proportions of women still become thinner and thinner the higher in management you look. And, crucially, the internet and social media have opened a door to instant communication and community support that didn’t exist before, helping women feel less isolation and shame about their experiences, and more confident that speaking out will have a positive result.

In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.

Editorial Board
New York Times

Will Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Finally Reform Men?

Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment? Watching the events of the past three weeks, one can hope.

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sudden and overdue expulsion from Hollywood for his serial predation, hundreds of long-silent women are calling out powerful, influential men at a remarkable clip and accusing them of sexual misconduct: Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios; the film director James Toback; the literary critic Leon Wieseltier; the restaurateur and celebrity chef John Besh; and the political commentator Mark Halperin, to name just a few. Read more>>

The failure of Italian feminism

MILAN — AMERICANS and Italians are such similar creatures: We both care about news only if it concerns us. That’s why in Italy there’s no such thing as the Harvey Weinstein scandal; here, it’s the Asia Argento scandal. Either way, it hasn’t made us look good.

“Victim-Blaming,” Vanity Fair proclaimed last week, after Ms. Argento, who says Mr. Weinstein raped her, declared that she was considering leaving Italy because of attacks on her by her compatriots. “Weinstein Accuser Feels ‘Doubly Crucified’ ” read the Associated Press headline. Suddenly we were patriarchal, sexist Italy again. Read more>>

Will Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Finally Reform Men?

Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment? Watching the events of the past three weeks, one can hope.

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sudden and overdue expulsion from Hollywood for his serial predation, hundreds of long-silent women are calling out powerful, influential men at a remarkable clip and accusing them of sexual misconduct: Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios; the film director James Toback; the literary critic Leon Wieseltier; the restaurateur and celebrity chef John Besh; and the political commentator Mark Halperin, to name just a few.

Several of these men have accepted some degree of responsibility for their behavior. Former President George Bush, now 93 and using a wheelchair, apologized last week after multiple women said he groped them and whispered a crude joke during photo ops. He described it as an “attempt at humor.”

Let’s not forget — let’s not ever forget — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, three giants of American popular culture who treated women despicably for decades, and paid a price, whether through criminal prosecution, public humiliation, job loss or forking out tens of millions of dollars in hush money. #MeToo, indeed.

This reckoning is all to the good, even if it is far too late. It feels as though a real and lasting transformation may be afoot — until you remember that this isn’t the first time women have sounded the alarm.

Remember Anita Hill, who told a firing line of skeptical senators the story of constant harassment by her boss, Clarence Thomas, more than 25 years ago. The lawmakers, every one of them male, seemed less concerned with the alleged misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee than that a woman would drag such a tawdry subject into the halls of Congress. While Ms. Hill’s brave testimony prompted a sharp rise in sexual-harassment claims, she was vilified in public; nearly twice as many Americans said at the time that they believed now-Justice Thomas’s account of what happened over hers.

Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.

Then, of course, there’s the current occupant of the Oval Office, who won the election only weeks after the public heard him brag about grabbing women’s genitalia, and who once said that if his daughter were ever sexually harassed at work, she should go find a new job. That president leads a party intent on passing laws that would re-establish gender norms and hierarchies from the middle of the last century (Defund Planned Parenthood! No abortions after six weeks!) — making it harder for women to attain the social equality and economic independence that would go a long way toward reducing sexual harassment in the workplace.

In other words, even the highest-profile opportunities to change America’s endemic culture of sexual harassment, which is overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, committed by men against women, can somehow be lost or swept away. How do we keep that from happening again?

And how do we ensure that progress filters down to average American workplaces, where sexual harassment occurs all the time but rarely gets media attention? The answer is part cultural, part economic and part legal.

The most conservative estimates say 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, although the real number is surely much higher, since only a small fraction of such behavior is ever reported. As many as 90 percent of workers who are harassed never file a formal complaint, according to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which receives more than 12,000 complaints of sex-based harassment each year.

The reasons for this silence are obvious: Women fear retaliation, indifference or disbelief if they speak up. If it’s hard for rich and famous people, so many of whom kept silent in the face of Mr. Weinstein’s well-known depredations, imagine how much harder it is for someone with no political or economic power. But the Weinstein saga also illustrates what a difference it can make when women join together — and men join with them — to confront harassers openly.

HOW TO CHANGE THE CULTURE The key is to foster work environments where women feel safe and men feel obliged to report sexual harassment. “People need to be afraid not just of doing these things, but also of not doing anything when someone around them does it,” Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told The Times’s Nicholas Kristof last week. “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”

But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join.

IT’S ABOUT POWER AND MONEY Sexual-harassment culture is tied directly to the economics of the workplace. Since harassment is about power, it’s no surprise that it thrives in industries where women are systematically kept out of powerful roles — and paid less for doing the same work as men. (This may help explain why sexual-harassment cases make up nearly half of all harassment complaints from the private sector, but less than 10 percent of those from employees of the federal government, where women have more opportunities to rise to positions of authority.)

Too often, male harassers use their economic power to silence women, as Mr. Weinstein and Mr. O’Reilly did repeatedly, offering them hefty payments in return for signing nondisclosure agreements. If employers were more responsive and harassment cases were easier to pursue in the courts, there would be fewer of these settlements, which can be good for individual women but allow the predatory behavior to continue unchecked.

One compromise could be to require businesses to report how many sexual-harassment claims they settle every year, or even how many complaints they receive. This would at least give prospective employees a chance to assess how bad the problem is at a given company, and could lead to greater public scrutiny in more extreme cases.

LEGAL BARRIERS The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion and other protected classes. Twelve years later, it made employers liable for supervisors’ harassment of workers. But in 2013, the court stepped backward, ruling that employers are liable only for racial or sexual harassment by a supervisor who has the power to fire a worker or prevent his or her promotion. In a 5-to-4 ruling, with only male justices in the majority, the court held that employers are not automatically liable for harassment by the larger number of supervisors who don’t have that power, even if they control all other aspects of a worker’s daily activities.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision ignored the realities of the modern workplace, and the “particular threatening character” of a supervisor’s power and authority, even one not vested with the power to fire. A worker who confronts a harassing supervisor risks “receiving an undesirable or unsafe work assignment or an unwanted transfer. She may be saddled with an excessive workload or with placement on a shift spanning hours disruptive of her family life.”

Congress could and should overturn that ruling today by passing a law that reinstates the broader and more realistic definition of a supervisor. But good luck with that; Capitol Hill can’t even keep its own house in order. Representative Jackie Speier of California, who said she was sexually assaulted years ago when she was a congressional staff member, told Politico on Thursday that the compliance office tasked with handling harassment complaints is “toothless,” and said that Congress has been “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”

This may turn out to be the year when the tide finally turned on sexual harassment. The elements for a permanent cultural shift are certainly in place. More women have entered the work force, and the pay gap with men is closing, though not fast enough. More women than men are graduating from college; more are earning advanced degrees; and increasing numbers are managers, though the proportions of women still become thinner and thinner the higher in management you look. And, crucially, the internet and social media have opened a door to instant communication and community support that didn’t exist before, helping women feel less isolation and shame about their experiences, and more confident that speaking out will have a positive result.

In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.

Opinion: New York Times editorial

Women Accuse Knight Landesman, Art World Mainstay, of Sexual Harassment

Knight Landesman, a longtime publisher of Artforum magazine and a power broker in the art world, resigned on Wednesday afternoon, hours after a lawsuit was filed in New York accusing him of sexually harassing at least nine women in episodes that stretched back almost a decade.

In a prepared statement, the magazine’s three other publishers said that Mr. Landesman had “engaged in unacceptable behavior and caused a hostile work environment.” Read more>>

 

The Megyn Kelly Problem

You know that part in “Jurassic Park” when Dr. Grant and the kids are about to get chomped by velociraptors, but the Tyrannosaurus rex shows up and demolishes the raptors with her superior jaws? And you kind of forgive the T. rex for the first half of the movie when she was insatiably hungry for child meat, because in the end she stuck her neck out, as only a dino could, so our heroes could get away?

That’s how I feel when Megyn Kelly goes in on Fox News and Bill O’Reilly. Except, of course, that Kelly, unlike a fictional dinosaur, has been through some truly horrific sexual violations, including vile and gendered comments from a man who is now the president of the United States, as well as an online silencing campaign that will most likely continue for as long as she refuses to capitulate. (Though, by the same token, that T. rex, as far as we know, has never gone on television and insisted that “Santa just is white.”)

It’s a long, silly way to express the conflict at the heart of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy. Kelly spent more than a dozen years as part of the Fox News machine, churning out the same brand of soft propaganda that helped lead to the Iraq war, the Tea Party and, eventually, “fake news” and President Trump.

Kelly happily trafficked in racist tropes for profit — black communities have a “thug mentality,” asking repeatedly whether the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were necessarily related to race — until her own dehumanization at the hands of Roger Ailes, O’Reilly and others became untenable. If you’ve heard the term “white feminism” tossed around your social media feeds, this is a prime example: fighting for freedom and justice as far as the boundaries of your own identity and not beyond.

It’s an unfortunate reality that Kelly’s stature as a right-of-center icon confers a degree of credibility that the Fox News rank and file — and, let’s be honest, the public — withhold from the traditional heralds of the ills of rape, abuse and sexual harassment: feminists. Activists and scholars who devote their lives to the study of gender-based violence and its legislative and social amelioration have been systematically smeared as reactionary liars. America’s traditionalist wing has set a tidy trap: The more you actually know about the way abuse functions, the less seriously you’re taken. So, what do we do with the fact that, as destructive as some of Kelly’s work has been, there are people who listened to her indictment of Ailes who would never have listened to, say, Anita Hill.

When Kelly finds a righteous purpose, she is potent. She found one this week, when — with the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations still at a fevered peak — news broke that O’Reilly had agreed to pay a $32 million settlement to the former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl.

“That is a jaw-dropping figure,” Kelly said Monday on her new NBC morning show. “O. J. Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5 million for the murders of Ron and Nicole. What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?”

In a profoundly hostile and disturbing interview about the settlement, O’Reilly told The New York Times that he had been the subject of no formal complaints to human resources in 43 years. Kelly dunked on that one, too: “O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior was false. I know because I complained.”

She also released an email that she sent to Fox executives in 2016, when O’Reilly dismissed sexual harassment allegations on air. “Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” Kelly wrote.

It’s a phrase that wouldn’t have been out of place in Bitch or Bust or Jezebel. But what about the kind of message American conservatism has been sending to young women — particularly women who are not wealthy and white and conventionally attractive and heterosexual — for generations?

Kelly crystallizes an uncomfortable tension that’s risen to the fore since the Weinstein story hit: What happens when #MeToo meets “I’m not a feminist, but”? It goes without saying that men across the political spectrum routinely victimize the women in their lives. It goes without saying because feminists have already been saying it for years. Yet, in the flood of anger and catharsis this past week, I’ve seen multiple eloquent and heartbreaking accounts of rape and abuse from conservative women, who are careful to specify that they are not like those other women, those radicals, those tedious, troublesome feminists. That’s fine. Whether you like us or not, we carved out this space for you.

Conservative women, anti-feminist women, apolitical women, it is simply a fact: You are participating in feminism just by being alive. In the most passive sense, you are beneficiaries. You can vote, you can work, you can have your own bank account, you can bring a sexual harassment claim against someone at your place of employment, you can prosecute your husband for rape, you can get an abortion. These rights weren’t just won by the women’s movement of the past; they are protected by the feminist movement of today — and they are under constant attack by the Republican Party, particularly the current administration.

But in a more active sense, by participating in #MeToo, by fighting back against harassment, by telling your story, you are standing up for the idea that women are autonomous human beings who are preyed upon and subordinated by men. Sorry, but that’s feminism. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

Lindy West, contributing op-ed writer
New York Times

Cynthia Dill: Sexual harassment is about power, which women still lack

The power to work free of such constraints is integral to freedom.

The challenge for men in power is to risk the idea that power may not be a zero-sum game. Given the chance women might make a bigger pie rather than cut smaller slices.

Read more>>

Fidelity jettisons two senior executives amid sexual harassment complaints

Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s largest investment firms, has pushed out two high-level executives over the past few weeks amid sexual harassment complaints, according to two people familiar with the allegations.

Former portfolio manager C. Robert Chow resigned earlier this month and Gavin Baker, a prominent tech fund manager, was fired by the company in September, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the cases. Chow and Baker could not be immediately reached for comment. Their dismissals were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Fidelity declined to comment on specific employees, but spokesman Vincent Loporchio said in a statement that its policies “prohibit harassment in any form. When allegations of these sorts are brought to our attention, we investigate them immediately and take prompt and appropriate action. We simply will not, and do not, tolerate this type of behavior.” Fidelity has also hired an outside consultant to review employee behavior in its stock-picking unit, according to one of the people familiar with the allegations.

Chow was accused of making inappropriate sexual comments to colleagues and Baker allegedly harassed a 26-year-old employee. Both worked in the company’s powerful stock-picking division. An unnamed spokesman for Baker told the Wall Street Journal that he “strenuously” denies the allegations.
The allegations come amid heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment complaints in corporate America. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was recently fired as the head of his company after reports emerged that he had harassed dozens of women over decades. And on Friday, the New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation with a network contributor for $32 million.

Wall Street, meanwhile, has long fought its reputation as a place where women and minorities struggle to succeed. None of the country’s leading publicly-traded banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup or Bank of America — have ever been led by a woman. Last year, Bank of America was accused of running a “bros club” that underpaid female executives. Women account for just 2 percent of financial industry chief executives, according to research by Catalyst, a nonprofit group. They hold about 29 percent of executive or senior-level positions in the industry.

Fidelity operates in the asset management world where such concerns have also lingered. Women and minorities are locked out of some of sector’s most lucrative positions, managing just 1.1 percent of the $71.4 trillion of the industry’s assets, according to a study commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Bella Research Group earlier this year.
Fidelity is somewhat unusual in the financial world. It is led by a woman, Abigail P. Johnson, who has been chairman and chief executive since 2014. Johnson’s grandfather started the firm, and she owns a significant share of the privately-held company, according to Forbes, which estimates her net worth at more than $17 billion.

Johnson is considered one of the most powerful women in finance from her perch at Fidelity, which has more than $6 trillion in assets, including the retirement accounts of millions of Americans. It also has several women in senior leadership positions, including Kathleen Murphy, the president of personal investing, which controls more than $2 trillion in customer assets.

The company held an emergency meeting last week in the wake of dismissals of the two executives, according to a personal familiar with the allegations. Brian Hogan, president of Fidelity’s stock-picking division, stressed the company’s intolerance of inappropriate workplace conduct during that meeting, the person said.

“Fidelity remains committed to providing all associates with an outstanding work environment and we will always work hard to ensure that we take swift and appropriate action when an individual violates our policies, and more importantly, our values,” the company’s statement said.

By Renae Merle October 22 at 3:44 PM
Washington Post

Do We Believe Women Yet? The Battle to End Sexual Harassment

The term “sexual harassment” was first coined in the 1970s.  Fast forward to 1991 when the lawyer and academician Anita Hill testified before an all-male — and strikingly unsympathetic — Senate committee that was holding hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court.

Read the article at New York Times>>

Tarantino on Weinstein: ‘I Knew Enough to Do More Than I Did’

She said she told her lawyer to pull the offer within a day of The New York Times publishing an article that detailed decades of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment, aggression and misconduct toward women, as well as at least seven other settlements he had reached with accusers. After that, the dam burst, with The New Yorker, The Times and other news outlets reporting on dozens of other women’s experiences with Mr. Weinstein.

Mr. Weinstein, his accusers say, built his long history of abusing women on a risky gamble that worked for him over and over — the assumption that money or threats could buy women’s silence on a subject so intimate and painful that most would prefer not to go public anyway. While Ms. McGowan was the rare voice suggesting that the cover-up was not fail-safe, even she considered not naming him, having already, she believes, paid a career price for that long-ago episode and its aftermath.

A Weinstein spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, said that “Mr. Weinstein unequivocally denies any allegations of nonconsensual sex.” Ms. McGowan’s lawyer, Paul Coggins, confirmed that Ms. McGowan received the offer.

By 2015, Ms. McGowan, who felt alienated by the industry, started using her sizable platform on Twitter to maximize her status as both insider and outsider — someone with enough Hollywood experience to speak with authority about sexism within it, and someone liberated enough from its compromises to unleash the fury in her that had been building for years. Only now does the scope of the news about Mr. Weinstein — and the public conversation about what’s wrong with Hollywood — seem to match the scale of her outrage, giving her the clout of a contrarian at last proven right.

On Friday, at the inaugural Women’s Convention in Detroit, she was a featured speaker — a new, combative face of feminism, endowed with Hollywood charisma yet anything but slick. “I have been silenced for 20 years,” she told the gathering. “I have been slut-shamed. I have been harassed. I have been maligned. And you know what? I’m just like you.”

A Crusade Gathers Strength

As other women told their stories in recent weeks, Ms. McGowan not only addressed what happened to her but also attacked those she considered complicit.

When the actor Ben Affleck claimed he never knew of Mr. Weinstein’s history, she wrote in a tweet: “‘GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT’ you said that to my face,” adding, “The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.” (Mr. Affleck declined to comment.) She called out the larger apparatus of Hollywood, criticizing talent agencies — “you are guilty of human trafficking,” she wrote — and a film studio that she believed knew of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misconduct.

When Twitter suspended her account — the company said that it was because she had published a private phone number — users retaliated with a boycott that drew support from celebrities such as the actress Alyssa Milano and the writer Cheryl Strayed. The actor and filmmaker Jordan Peele tweeted, in response to Ms. McGowan’s blistering attacks, a moody still of her from “Grindhouse” in which she surveys burning wreckage her character has wrought. “Get ’em, Rose,” he wrote.

On Oct. 13, the day of the boycott, Ms. McGowan retreated from Los Angeles, where she had been working on her memoir, to a beach cottage in Hawaii, safely ensconced behind two gates, near a park locals call the City of Refuge. “I wanted to come to a place that had so much power to it, that it could hold a lot at bay — a lot of monster energy,” said Ms. McGowan, sitting at a picnic table near the ocean. “I came to a place that almost has a protective zone around it.” Her hair was short, but not shaven, as it had been in the past. Once featured on the covers of Maxim and Rolling Stone as a longhaired, barely dressed object of desire, Ms. McGowan seems to have settled on an aesthetic of chic simplicity.

If not a time of celebration, this moment could be perceived as a moment of vindication for Ms. McGowan. Yes, she said, she sometimes feels like laughing — “kind of like a witch’s cackle,” she clarified. But at other times she feels emotionally raw, just knowing that a click on her phone would bring her to conversations others were having about her assault allegation. The phone had come to feel too powerful: “It’s like a live wire that you’re holding in your mouth, and it goes directly to your brain,” she said.

The Meeting and the Aftermath

Her story of assault, although uniquely her own, shares some of the now familiar hallmarks of a Weinstein encounter. Ms. McGowan, then 23, was in Park City, Utah, in early 1997 to attend the Sundance Film Festival and the screening of a film in which she appeared, “Going All the Way.” She had also recently appeared as a smart-mouthed beauty who dies a gruesome death in the blockbuster film “Scream,” on which Mr. Weinstein was an executive producer.

Ms. McGowan’s manager then, Jill Messick, told her to meet Mr. Weinstein at the restaurant in the Stein Eriksen Lodge for a 10 a.m. appointment. On her arrival, the maître d’ directed the actress upstairs to Mr. Weinstein’s suite, she said. Ms. McGowan remembers passing two male assistants on the way in. “They wouldn’t look me in the eye,” she recalled.

She sat at the far end of a couch as Mr. Weinstein sat in a club chair, and they had a brief business meeting. But on their way out, she said, he interrupted himself to point out that the hotel room had a hot tub. “And then what happened, happened,” said Ms. McGowan, who has described her experience, on Twitter, as rape. “Suffice it to say a door opened and my life changed.”

She declined to share the details of the encounter. “That’s my story to tell,” she said emphatically. But she said that she walked out of the hotel suite and directly into a press event. She remembers fighting back tears, and the conversation with Mr. Affleck. She said she told Ms. Messick, then of Addis-Wechsler & Associates, what had occurred. “She held me,” Ms. McGowan said. “She put her arms around me.”

But in the months to come, Ms. McGowan did not feel supported by her management team. She was referred to a lawyer specializing in sexual harassment and assault cases who, Ms. McGowan said, gave her the impression that filing a criminal charge was hopeless. “She was like, ‘You’re an actress, you’ve done a sex scene, you’re done,’” she recalled.

Anne Woodward, now a manager herself, was a young assistant in Ms. Messick’s office at the time, and was in on many of Ms. Messick’s calls. “I remember that Rose was extremely upset and did not want to settle,” Ms. Woodward said. “She wanted to fight.” No one around her, as Ms. Woodward recalls, supported that instinct. “It was an emotionally shocking way to see a woman being treated,” Ms. Woodward said. “That’s what stuck with me.”

Ms. McGowan with her parents near Florence, Italy, in 1974. Her father was the leader of a religious cult from which her grandmother extracted her before she reached middle school. Credit Asaph Silver Adullam
Nick Wechsler, then a principal at Addis-Wechsler & Associates, said that he and his partner, Keith Addis, met with Mr. Weinstein at Ms. Messick’s request and confronted him with Ms. McGowan’s claim. “I remember Harvey saying he was going to get psychiatric treatment or some kind of therapy for his sexual behavior,” Mr. Wechsler said.

Ms. McGowan initially asked for about $25,000, enough money to cover her therapy; by the time she signed the settlement, the amount had been raised to $100,000. Both Ms. Woodward and Ms. McGowan were shocked when, only a few months afterward, Ms. Messick accepted a job working as vice president for development at Miramax, then run by Mr. Weinstein. Ms. Messick did not respond to a request for comment.

At the time of the alleged assault, Ms. McGowan had finally been emerging from the trials of an insecure childhood, with loving but unconventional parents: Her father, said his sister, Rory McGowan, Rose’s aunt, “almost certainly had undiagnosed manic-depressive disorder.” He was the leader of a religious cult in Italy, from which Rose’s grandmother extracted her before she reached middle school. Both parents were hippie intellectuals, members of the counterculture who taught their children to prize independent thinking and buck the system.

Maddie Corman, an actress who befriended Ms. McGowan in the mid-90s, perceived a change in Ms. McGowan after the 1997 episode (she says she was aware of the settlement, but could not recall if she learned it directly from Ms. McGowan or from others). “Rose was never this sweet, simple soul — there was always something ferocious about her,” Ms. Corman said. “After that assault, a light dimmed. I remember her souring on the powers that be. And she became very protective of us. It was sometimes cryptic: Keep your guard up.”

Ms. McGowan’s friends watched as she made choices that surprised them, including beginning a relationship with Marilyn Manson, a controversial rock star and ordained Satanist who has called himself “the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles.” (“I ran away for three years and joined the circus,” Ms. McGowan said of that romantic involvement.) She showed up for the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1998 in a dress made of tiny beads that left her nearly nude. “That was my first big public appearance after being assaulted,” she said. “And I thought — you want to see a body? I did it with a giant middle finger.”

Ms. McGowan in the show “Charmed,” on which she worked until 2006. Credit The WB, via Photofest
Camilla Rantsen was also a young actress in Los Angeles who was close to Ms. McGowan, and was aware, only through friends, of what had transpired. “I think some of the people she started surrounding herself with weren’t as great as the people she had before,” said Ms. Rantsen, who is now a writer.

Plenty of young actresses with promising starts see their careers founder for one reason or another. But Ms. McGowan believes that after she finished up work on “Phantoms,” a 1998 film produced by Miramax, her career suffered because collaborations with Weinstein productions were for many years off the table. “And they were doing the kinds of movies that I would be doing,” she said.

She continued to work, on “Charmed” until 2006, but also in independent films. Eventually, she appeared in both of the two films packaged as “Grindhouse,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, with whom she was romantically involved, and by Quentin Tarantino. It was distributed by Dimension, run by Bob Weinstein, Harvey’s brother. As the film critic David Edelstein put it in New York, Ms. McGowan played “the ultimate abused-and-fetishized action-movie femme.” The experience, Ms. McGowan said, left her shattered. “I was really lost at that point,” she said. “I was damaged.”

Shunning ‘Celebrity’

It is impossible to predict how Ms. McGowan’s career path in film would have proceeded had the episode with Mr. Weinstein never occurred. She is an unconventional figure, occasionally provocative and profane, but also sometimes old-fashioned and even formal in spirit. “I never considered myself a celebrity,” she said at one point. “I hate that word. It’s tawdry.”

Ms. McGowan became an increasingly outspoken voice for women mistreated by Hollywood. In 2015, she was dropped from her agency after mocking a casting call that encouraged women to wear push-up bras in auditions. (Her agent had been fired a few days earlier, but the agency did not fight to retain her, as agencies typically do of valued clients.)

Ms. McGowan at the Women’s Convention. “I have been harassed,” she told the gathering. “I have been maligned. And you know what? I’m just like you.” Credit Erin Kirkland for The New York Times
In The Hollywood Reporter, she passionately defended Renée Zellweger last year from what she perceived as sexist comments in Variety about the actress’s plastic surgery. “How dare you bully a woman who has done nothing but try to entertain people like you?” she wrote, in a direct accusation of the piece’s writer, Owen Glieberman.

“It was startling and inspiring to see someone who was willing to put herself out there in support of other women/actresses,” said the actress Molly Ringwald in an email to The Times. “Her tenacity is something that you would hope for in an union leader but of course never really get.”

And Ms. McGowan spoke, in veiled terms, to the Buzzfeed reporter Kate Aurthur in 2015 about her experience as an assault victim. “You are taking part of someone’s soul,” she said. “It’s happened to me.” Last year, during a Twitter campaign called #WhyWomenDontReport, she all but named Mr. Weinstein as the perpetrator of the violence against her that she had mentioned in the past.

During her recent visit to Hawaii, Ms. McGowan, over a day and a half in Kona, revealed a person much more playful than her fierce Twitter persona. She would interrupt a thought to smile and smell a flower that caught her eye; she could not resist a swing hanging from a large tree, and enjoyed twirling an umbrella the same blue as her sundress while walking on the beach. She seemed free, in some ways, from both a long-kept secret and a labor of love that had occupied her for the last year and a half — her book, “Brave,” which will be released by Harper One early next year.

To some degree, she had shielded herself from the news. But when she learned how many women had stepped forward to complain of assault or harassment by Mr. Weinstein, she said: “I knew we are legion. We are legion.” She had been corresponding lately with Asia Argento, an Italian actress who also accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual assault (and was subsequently shamed by the Italian press). “It feels,” Ms. McGowan wrote to Ms. Argento, reading from her text, “‘like toxic slime going out of a spiked birth canal.’ That’s what the whole experience feels like to me. It’s an intense process.”

Sometimes she feels fresh rage. “But I’ll tell you what I don’t feel anymore,” she said. “Despair.”

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