We live in a post-Harvey Weinstein world. That world is forcing all of us to have a conversation about the pervasive sexual harassment that has occurred to thousands of young women and men by powerful men who felt they were entitled. We’ve seen it happen with Weinstein, we’re watching the fallout affect Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., and now we’re watching it hit director Brett Ratner.
In the wake of The LA Times‘s November 1st article on Ratner and the six women who have accused him of sexual assault, Ellen Page has posted a statement on Facebook alleging his inappropriate behavior during the filming of X-Men: The Last Stand when she was 18. She writes:
“You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” He said this about me during a cast and crew “meet and greet” before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was eighteen years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: “You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay.” He was the film’s director, Brett Ratner.
Page went on to describe that incident made the rest of filming very uncomfortable, and it wasn’t the only time she saw Ratner talk about women in a degrading way.
I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. I knew I was gay, but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened. I looked down at my feet, didn’t say a word and watched as no one else did either. This man, who had cast me in the film, started our months of filming at a work event with this horrific, unchallenged plea. He “outed” me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic. I proceeded to watch him on set say degrading things to women. I remember a woman walking by the monitor as he made a comment about her “flappy pussy”.
That was not the only time Page says she crossed paths with Ratner on the set, either, and after the getting into an argument with Ratner, Page saw the power dynamic come out yet again.
I got into an altercation with Brett at a certain point. He was pressuring me, in front of many people, to don a t-shirt with “Team Ratner” on it. I said no and he insisted. I responded, “I am not on your team.” Later in the day, producers of the film came to my trailer to say that I “couldn’t talk like that to him.” I was being reprimanded, yet he was not being punished nor fired for the blatantly homophobic and abusive behavior we all witnessed. I was an actor that no one knew. I was eighteen and had no tools to know how to handle the situation.
Page goes on to detail incidents that happened outside the set of X-Men: The Last Stand and her regret about working with Woody Allen.
The LA Times exposé from a week ago was more of the same story we’ve unfortunately had to read a lot of in the recent weeks.
“Natasha Henstridge was watching a movie on Brett Ratner’s couch when she fell asleep. She was a 19-year-old fashion model; he was an up-and-coming music video director in his early 20s. They had been hanging out in front of the TV with friends at his New York apartment.
But when Henstridge woke up, the others had left. She was alone with Ratner. She got up to leave, Henstridge said, but he blocked the doorway with his body and wouldn’t budge. He began touching himself, she said, then forced her to perform oral sex.
“He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” she said. “At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.”
The incidents with these men are life-changing, as detailed by Henstridge after she had to see Ratner again in the mid-2000s.
Henstridge’s neighbor Lilith Berdischewsky said that the actress told her about the incident with Ratner in the mid-2000s. “I remember when she was going to some audition and she says, ‘I don’t know whether I should go or not, but [Ratner] probably is not going to be there.’ And she came back and she was shaking,” Berdischewsky recalled.
Indeed, Henstridge, who recently appeared on the television shows “Medinah” and “Beauty & the Beast,” went to an audition for the TV drama “Prison Break,” which Ratner executive produced, knowing he might be in the room.
“And he was,” said the actress, who has two sons, ages 16 and 19. “I had two young kids and had to go to work and make a living. And he just acted like we were old friends from back in the day in New York, saying, ‘I haven’t seen you in years.’ Auditioning is already bad enough. But trying to focus on the work, I just felt sick.”
She didn’t get the part.
For actress Olivia Munn, her run-ins with Ratner have been detailed in not only the article, but (without naming Ratner) in her book Suck It, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek. She was asked to deliver food to the directors trailer as a favor while on the set of After the Sunset.
“He walked out … with his belly sticking out, no pants on, shrimp cocktail in one hand and he was furiously masturbating in the other,” Munn said. “And before I literally could even figure out where to escape or where to look, he ejaculated.”
Munn said she let out a “startled scream” and raced out of the trailer. She said she immediately told the man who had asked her to deliver the food. His reaction? “It wasn’t a shock. It wasn’t surprise,” Munn recalled. “It was just, ‘Ugh, sorry about that.’”
Munn went to a lawyer about the incident, but was told not to pursue anything since she was a “fledgling actress” going up against “a powerful director”.
“That did leave an impact on me,” Munn said, reflecting on the conversation. “How broken do women have to be before people listen?”
Ratner deflected the allegations by claiming that he and Munn dated and he “banged her a few times … but I forgot her.” He then retracted the statement days later on the Howard Stern show. When asked to comment on the story, Ratner’s representation said they were “intimate”, which Munn denied.
“I shouldn’t have to be completely broken, battered, and devalued in order to prove that he crossed a line,” she said.
Hollywood, like most industries, is much smaller than one might think — so Munn was unable to avoid Ratner in the coming years. She ran into him at a party in 2010 after appearing on a magazine cover.
Ratner asked her, “Why do you hate me?” She said she told him: “It’s more of a dislike.”
Ratner grew angry, she said, and responded: “Why? I bought 10 of your magazines and came over all of them.”
The power dynamic that Lauren O’Connell explained to the New York Times about Harvey Weinstein, which was again present in the allegations against Louis C.K., once again reared its ugly head:
I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.
These aren’t some small incidences that women are making a big deal of. They are scarring, traumatizing, and often the worst moments in these young women’s lives. Hollywood has spent too long disregarding these incidents as “part of the business” and something that women just need to accept — but enough is enough. Or, as Ellen Page said at the end of her post:
Don’t allow this behavior to be normalized. Don’t compare wrongs or criminal acts by their degrees of severity. Don’t allow yourselves to be numb to the voices of victims coming forward. Don’t stop demanding our civil rights. I am grateful to anyone and everyone who speaks out against abuse and trauma they have suffered. You are breaking the silence. You are revolution.