Ashley Judd has been one of the leading voices in the #MeToo movement after becoming one of the first women to publically accuse the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of harassment. Alongside her work on stage and screen, Ms Judd is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. Mr Weinstein has denied all accusations of non-consensual sex. In an interview with HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur, she spoke candidly about sexual harassment and being a crusader for gender equality.
Sackur: What we see now is the growth of a real movement of women speaking out. Are you satisfied that this has come about or are you deeply frustrated that it’s taken so long for this to come about? What’s your overriding emotion right now?
Judd: Joy; just unmitigated, electrifying joy. I’m so happy, I’m so happy that it’s here. I’ve been telling this story for a long time, since the moment it happened in fact, because you know my particular examples of harassment with Harvey Weinstein. I’m a teller – to use the word that Laura Dern used the other night on stage at the Golden Globes – I’m a tattler. And I was molested for the first time when I was seven years old, and the first thing I did was go to a grown up and say, “Hey this just happened”. And is so often the case, the grown-ups said, “Oh he’s a nice old man that’s not what he meant”, but I somehow or another managed, Stephen, to stay absolutely authentic in my truth – that I knew that something terribly wrong had happened, and I think that’s why I’m such a crusader for gender equality and for the full eradication of all gender and sexual-based violence. Because I experienced it as a youth, I experienced it in Hollywood, it’s been the core of my humanitarian work for over 15 years, and now that this movement has collectivised and catalysed and is here, it’s incredibly gratifying to me.
Judd: I think it’s fantastic to have the conversation, and starting to articulate and identify and have a gradient of behaviours – and understand there is a spectrum of behaviour – that is so important. Unless we talk about this, and tease each part of it out, we can’t understand what is unacceptable and what is. We also need the lexicon for describing the behaviour.
Sackur: Yesterday I switched my TV on and there was news of another actor, James Franco, who has been the subject of a number of different accusations by women, mostly online. And James Franco’s response is “Look, I didn’t do the things I’m accused of but if I did in the past behave badly then I am going to work my very hardest to put things right”. I wonder, now, about the atmosphere that you see – in your industry, in entertainment, in other industries too – where it seems some men feel that they are, in a sense, being presumed guilty without due process.
Judd: I think that what James said is terrific. And I think that we’ve all behaved – at a certain level – unconsciously, and done things that were insensitive, inappropriate, without necessarily understanding that they were. I mean we’ve all operated with a certain amount of tone deafness, and I like the culpability, and we have to have restorative justice. This is about men and women being all together and having a more equitable and just workplace, home life, social spaces.
The full interview with Ashley Judd will air on HARDtalk on Monday 15th January at 1530 and 2030 GMT on BBC World News.
Source: HARDtalk on BBC World News