In the column, Ringwald describes her interaction as a 20-year-old with Harvey Weinstein. While the producer did not harass Ringwald, the “Riverdale” actress goes on to describe instances of sexual harassment that occurred over the span of her career.
“While my own Harvey story may be different, I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition,” she wrote. “When I was 13, a 50-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection. When I was 14, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set. At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process.”
Ringwald goes on to describe an experience that occurred in her twenties, in which a director asked her to allow an actor to put a dog collar on her while reading lines during an audition.
“I don’t know if the collar ever made it on me, because that’s the closest I’ve had to an out-of-body experience,” she wrote. “I’d like to think that I just walked out, but, more than likely, there’s an old VHS tape, disintegrating in a drawer somewhere, of me trying to remember lines with a dog collar around my neck in front of a young man I once had a crush on. I sobbed in the parking lot and, when I got home and called my agent to tell him what happened, he laughed and said, “Well, I guess that’s one for the memoirs….” Ringwald fired the agent.
The actress continues that she could go on with further instances of moments during her career in which she felt “demeaned or exploited,” but that she felt it would get repetitive. She wrote that this normalization of women’s experiences of sexual harassment is part of the reason she hadn’t spoke about it sooner.
“I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather. Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President.”
Ringwald ended the column with a look to the future: “I hope that young women will one day no longer feel that they have to work twice as hard for less money and recognition, backward and in heels. It’s time. Women have resounded their cri de coeur. Listen.”
Sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, numerous women in the entertainment industry have come forward in recent days and weeks with stories of sexual harassment, part of a broadening movement to shed light on how common sexual harassment and assault is. From Angelina Jolie to Lena Headey and America Ferrera, actresses have described their experiences of harassment either by Weinstein or others, with many asking that their stories help change the culture in Hollywood and society at large.