Jennifer Lawrence’s Harrowing Story Proves Hollywood Sexual Harassment Goes Beyond Harvey Weinstein

Last week, Emma Thompson told the BBC in an interview that she hoped the Harvey Weinstein scandal has revealed that sexual assault is “endemic” in the Hollywood industry—and in society—saying that she “spent [her] the 20s trying to keep old men’s tongues out of [her] throat.” At Elle’s Women in Hollywood event in Beverly Hills Monday night, Jennifer Lawrence proved just how right Thompson was when she shared her own story of sexual assault and abuse early in her career, per

Lawrence, who received an Oscar nomination for her first film, Winter’s Bone, at 20, said that when she first began acting as a teen she was made to take part in a “naked line-up,” where she and a group of other, “much, much thinner” women “stood side-by-side with only paste-one covering [their] privates.” Lawrence said it only got worse from there: “After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”

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When she went to a producer for the film (she did not name the title), to inquire about the odd casting process, “he responded by telling me he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat; he thought I was perfectly ‘fuckable.’” She went on to say she felt “trapped” because she didn’t have any power in the situation as an unknown actress.

Reese Witherspoon shared a similar story during her speech introducing co-star Laura Dern at Elle’s event Monday night.

“I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate,” she said. “A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action. True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment.”

Stories like Lawrence’s and Witherspoon’s have cropped up across the Internet as part of the “#metoo” campaign that actress Alyssa Milano has encouraged sexual assault survivors to take part in. Youth activist Tarana Burke began the campaign in 2007. America Ferrera has added her own story to the fold via an Instagram post-Monday night. In it, she wrote that she was sexually assaulted when she was 9 years old.

“I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man,” she said.

In her remarks Monday, Lawrence added that as her career went on, she began to understand the problematic truth that notoriety could protect her from assault. As a budding actress, a regular girl, she had no power to shut down an abuser. But as soon as she became a star, featured in the multi-million dollar Hunger Games series, her “no” suddenly carried a lot more power.

She told the audience, “in a dream world, everyone is treated with the exact same level of respect. But, until we reach that goal, I will lend my ear. I will lend my voice to any boy, girl, man, or woman who does not feel like they can protect themselves.”

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