Think you know what sexual harassment looks like? Think again
In case you needed any clarification
In light of recent events involving the conduct of TVF’s Arunabh Kumar, it’s become evident that we’re still not entirely sure of the boundaries we have to maintain within professional relationships. To help bridge the gap, David Schwimmer has collaborated with Israeli film director Sigal Avin and New York-based movie producer Mazdack Rassi to launch a campaign called #ThatsHarassment. It features a series of mini-movies that depict real-life experiences of sexual harassment, one being drawn from Avin’s own experience. Through this, they aim to throw light on every day instances of harassment that, more often than not, victims avoid bringing up in fear of retaliation.
Avin, who has directed the films for the campaign, had written five short films back in December 2016 and released them in Israel. She contacted Schwimmer to promote the movies in the US as well. The Friends actor decided to adapt four of the videos form the original Israeli series and developed two more with Avin for the campaign. According to Avin, there was little to no visual material to combat sexual harassment available. “There was nothing on it, everything was much more violent, or unreal, but there was nothing that showed the gray area of sexual harassment,” she said in an interview.
The videos feature a woman and a man — the actor, the boss, the co-worker, the doctor, the photographer and the politician — and illustrate harassment in ways that are difficult to watch but sadly familiar. It justifies Avin’s insistence of more visual content depicting sexual harassment, as opposed to the spoken word or literature. The makers enlisted the help of actors like Cynthia Nixon, Emmy Rossum and Cristela Alonzo to feature in the movies.
Rassi addressed how important it is for men to watch these movies. “As a male, I have this reaction (like), ‘My god, have I ever crossed this line when I was younger?’ Because it’s so subtle. I showed it to a few male colleagues and some of them thought it was comedy at the beginning,” he said.
The movies subtly try to educate people about the gray zone that workplace sexual harassment falls under. On what they hope for the campaign to achieve, Schwimmer said that women should know that it’s OK for them to speak up. “The reality (is that) this kind of harassment takes place in the workplace, in a professional environment. And that means it’s about power,” he said, adding that not speaking up gives the perpetrator courage to continue doing it to other women.
You can watch one of the movies from the series right here:
Check out the rest of the series here.