More than 120 Italian actresses and female directors have launched a blistering attack on sexual harassment in the country’s film industry, in the latest reaction to the Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood abuse scandals.
“We are no longer afraid,” the women wrote in an open letter to the industry, vowing not to tolerate the molestation and intimidation of the past.
It is the latest demonstration of anger to emerge after claims that Weinstein allegedly raped, sexually assaulted and threatened dozens of Hollywood stars and lesser-known actresses.
The open letter, published by the newspaper La Repubblica, was the result of two months of discussion and deliberation by 124 actresses, screenwriters, producers and costume designers.
“We are not pointing a finger at individual molesters, we are challenging the whole system,” the letter said.
Sexual harassment affected not only women in the film and television industry but working women everywhere, from secretaries and students to factory workers and immigrants, they said.
The group included high-profile actresses who said they wanted to use their fame to “unmask” abuse “in the name of all women who work and who endure sexual harassment.”
There was one well-known name missing from the list – Asia Argento, an actress who has publicly accused Weinstein of raping her two decades ago.Asia Argento, who claims she was raped by Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s, did not sign the open letter. Credit: Barcroft
She reportedly declined to sign the letter because she had wanted it to go further by naming predatory men and detailing the abuses they have allegedly committed.
“I’m waiting for concrete gestures,” she wrote on Twitter, saying she preferred to “go out on the streets” to signing a manifesto.
The letter carried an implicit criticism of Catherine Deneuve, the legendary French actress who last month said the campaign against sexual abuse had spun out of control.
She was one of 100 female writers, academics and performers who signed a letter, published by Le Monde, saying men should be "free to hit on" women.Women hold placards during a march in Rome on January 20, 2018. Credit: AFP
Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-prime minister renowned for his “bunga bunga” parties with models and escorts, came to her defence, saying that women should be happy if a man tries to seduce them.
He was accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, a Moroccan dancer nicknamed Ruby the Heart Stealer, but after an initial conviction was acquitted on appeal.
The Italian actresses and directors said they were not being overly “moralistic” or prudish and knew the difference between unwanted sexual attention and “the game of seduction”.
They called for a “new balance between men and women” in which predatory male behaviour will no longer be permitted.