Carole Lombard, a feminist at a time when few used the term, would understand -- not to mention applaud -- the movement against sexual harassment that's spread across the world like wildfire the past few weeks. It uses the hashtag #MeToo, a by-product of the scandal that brought down longtime film producer Harvey Weinstein and his company, winners of an array of Academy Awards.
While there's debate over who coined or popularized the term (many credit Philadelphia activist Tarana Burke, herself a survivor of sexual assault, who's worked with victims for more than a decade), countless women in entertainment and other industries have come forth with tales of unjust treatment they've endured from men in power. In many cases, they've named the alleged culprits -- sometimes in hopes of bringing them to justice, often simply to get emotional closure.
Burke is shown Friday at a women's conference with actress Rose McGowan, a longtime critic of Hollywood's complicity of Weinstein's predatory ways. Many others have come out with charges against the mogul, including actresses Annabella Sciorra and Daryl Hannah (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/weighing-the-costs-of-speaking-out-about-harvey-weinstein?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(54)&CNDID=49369772&spMailingID=12241737&spUserID=MTg2NDc2MDM0NTc3S0&spJobID=1262480559&spReportId=MTI2MjQ4MDU1OQS2).
It should be noted discrimination against women in the industry isn't just against actresses, but writers and others too. Check out this Washington Post piece for proof: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/10/25/how-hollywood-abuses-women-and-steals-our-work/?utm_term=.1658e13868a5
This certainly is nothing new in Hollywood, where the term "casting couch" was created. Recently, LA Weekly examined how women in the classic era were frequently mistreated (http://www.laweekly.com/arts/how-women-in-old-hollywood-dealt-with-the-industrys-predators-8772300). The story also notes how Lombard employed blue language to scare away potential predators, as well as the famed tale of how Carole thwarted the advances of Fredric March, who was notorious for his lechery.
The scars never heal, no matter how many years pass. Actress/singer/dancer Janis Paige, now 95, wrote a piece for the Hollywood Reporter Friday where she publicly told of a rape attempt against her in the 1940s. Her attacker: Alfred Bloomingdale, heir to the department store fortune.
Following a date at Romanoff's restaurant, he persuaded her to briefly join him as he picked something up in his Sunset Towers apartment. According to Paige, here's what happened next:
"He opened the door, and as I stepped inside, I heard it slam. Without a word, he suddenly reached around me and tore my blouse open. I could feel his hands, not only on my breasts, but seemingly everywhere. He was big and strong, and I began to fight, kick, bite and scream. When he put his hand over my mouth, I couldn't breathe and thought I was going to die.
"I bit him as hard as I could and opened the door. I ran down about six flights of stairs, hysterical and sobbing to Sunset Boulevard, running toward home. I remember passing people on the street, holding my blouse closed."
Paige noted Bloomingdale "was a man who would become wrapped in sexual scandals until he died." (Although married since 1946, he had a notorious, sado-masochistic relationship with the much younger Vicki Morgan. Bloomingdale was friendly with Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and received a federal post once Ronald became president.) Paige closed her guest column with these comments:
"Maybe there's a special place in hell for the Alfred Bloomingdales and Harvey Weinsteins of the world and for those who aid and then deny their grossly demented behavior.
*At 95, time is not on my side, and neither is silence. I simply want to add my name and say, 'Me too.'"
Thank you for your courage in speaking out, Janis Paige.