It’s been a month since Harvey Weinstein was arrested on rape and sexual abuse charges, and it was so momentous that Gwyneth Paltrow is still processing it.
The New York Times checked back in with 20 people — including Paltrow and Ashley Judd — who went public with their #MeToo stories in the paper, to see how doing so changed their lives. Paltrow, who originally detailed how Weinstein made advances to her in a hotel room when she was 22 (leading to a confrontation between Weinstein and her fiancé at the time, Brad Pitt), spoke about the disgraced move maker’s arrest.
“I still feel like I haven’t processed it,” said Paltrow, who went on to work with Weinstein many times after the incident, earning the nickname “first lady of Miramax,” Weinstein’s then-company. “I’m still completely in shock. I grew up in a world where these kinds of systems remained intact. To see somebody like Harvey Weinstein, who in my professional world was omnipotent and the person who held so much of my career in his hands, in handcuffs … it is just stunning to me.”
While scores of women stepped forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, he was charged with rape, by a woman who has not been identified, and sexual abuse, by former actress Lucia Evans, who said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during what she thought would be a casting call. Many of Weinstein’s accusers — Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, and Annabella Sciorra — spoke out about the arrest immediately. (Weinstein has denied all allegations against him.)
“This is a system that has existed for thousands of years,” Paltrow said of sexual misconduct in the workplace, “and now you cannot behave that way. The psychological implications for those of us who have been exploited by men in power are so much to process, because we’ve built our identities and defense systems and strength out of protecting ourselves against this kind of system. For a mother of a 14-year-old girl,” Paltrow said in reference to her daughter, Apple Martin, “it’s overwhelming to know we’re living in a culture where ramifications exist for this kind of thing.”
Paltrow ended by saying that it’s like “a veil of shame that’s been lifted off this whole thing” and that she feels an “amazing” sense of “knit-togetherness in the female community.” However, she also admits she feels “naïve” for not realizing what this type of situation would be like for a “single woman trying to make ends meet,” which is the reason why #TimesUp was created.
As for Judd, she was of course the first actress to go on the record with the NYT about Weinstein. In April, she sued him because, after rejecting his unwanted advances, he allegedly told Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson that she was difficult to work with, and she missed out on career opportunities.
Judd said that ever since she boldly spoke out against Weinstein, she’s gotten thank yous from people of all walks of life. “People passed me notes on airplanes thanking me,” she told the NYT. “Men and women. I actually just reread three notes that I kept on my bedside table. The themes are similar: Thank you so much, I’ve had my own experiences with harassment and sexual assault, you’ve been so brave, you made it easier for me. … On one flight, I had my #TimesUp T-shirt on, and when I got off the airplane, people had lined up to thank me.”
More recently, “I was driving in rural Tennessee, listening to a report on #MeToo in the Russian Parliament,” Judd recalled. “I had such wonder, knowing that in some way it started with our conversation. I did what I did because it was the right thing to do and I trusted that things would fall into place. Now I want joyfully to shout from the rooftops: Everyone come forward, everyone come forward. Everyone has to make their decisions, but I think we can safely say millions of others are here to offer support and hope. Nobody can do it for me, but I don’t have to do it alone.”
Singer Vanessa Carlton is also featured in the piece. A former student at New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet, she told the NYT in January that, while in the program when she was 12, a teacher at City Ballet’s summer school threatened to expel students who spoke to reporters about the 1992 arrest of Peter Martins, ballet master in chief, who was charged with assaulting his wife, a principal dancer with the company. Martins retired from the company soon after that story came out, but denied allegations of abuse.
Carlton promoted the NYT story on her Instagram Thursday, writing, “This is an important collection of statements from incredible women about what happens AFTER you speak up. Your words matter. What we learn from these women is that we must take risks in order to make positive change in the world and in our personal lives. We are all in this together.”
In the article, she said speaking out was “almost like … this collective catharsis for a lot of us. The thing that’s unusual about ballet is this culture of silence. You start becoming conditioned when you’re 11 or 12. I had no idea how others had been suffering. It’s so insular that you’re really only living in your own experience, and then this blows the whole thing open.”
And while “It feels terrifying to speak on the record, once you jump off the cliff and you say it, you realize that actually there is no cliff. It turns into a door that’s open and there’s all these people standing on the other side and they’re literally saying, ‘Me too.'”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment
- Johnny Depp stays on tour as report says his ill son is ‘a lot better’
- ‘The perfect actor in the right role’: ‘Karate Kid’ cast salutes the late Pat Morita on his birthday
- Why Carrie Fisher thought ‘Star Wars’ would be the end of her career