Earlier this week, David Schwimmer launched a campaign to fight sexual harassment, releasing a series of short videos depicting what sexual harassment looks like in real life. The campaign, #ThatsHarassment, is a powerful statement, and the videos show just how subtle sexual harassment can be…to the point where women are truly unsure what to do in the scary and uncomfortable moments its taking place.
Now, two of the campaign’s stars, Emmy Rossum and Cynthia Nixon are sharing advice on harassment — specifically how to handle sexual harassment in the moments that it’s happening.
“Sexual harassment can be very subtle. It can be just bringing up a sexual topic where it’s not intended. I’ve had experiences where I’ve felt uncomfortable, where a man was telling me in the workplace about his sexual relationship with his wife or with his girlfriend.”
“And in a way, you rationalize it in your head,” she continued. “Well, they couldn’t have been trying to make me uncomfortable because they’re clearly talking about their relationship with their partner. But men don’t introduce the idea of sex into the conversation if [they’re] not trying to see if there’s an opening there.”
As for how to combat sexual harassment? Rossum insists that women should trust their instincts. “I would say that I definitely feel more confident to speak up about things I believe in…In the past, I’ve been more, shut up and swallow what happened because I didn’t want to make waves. And now I understand to trust my instincts a little more. To push back in a proper way and ask for the respect that I give to other people. If someone’s like, ‘Oh, hey, baby, on that line…’ I say, ‘Oh no, I prefer ‘Emmy.'”
Nixon has faced similar experiences, like the time an actor she admired and respected asked her to sleep with him while his girlfriend was on set with them. She says she was young, and the actor was 15 years her senior, and she didn’t speak up. ” I don’t think I said anything. I just looked at him. And he said, ‘I was joking.’ His girlfriend was on set. It was so weird. Was he really trying to get me to go to bed with him or was he feeling his power? It’s strange.”
The veteran actress echoes Rossum’s feelings, saying, “I do think in our business and in most professions, women who stand up for themselves and what they think can often get a reputation, when men [doing the same] are just viewed as strong. But it’s really important, if you can in the moment, to just take a beat and say, ‘Huh, no, I want to do it this way.'”
This campaign — and the messages that Rossum and Nixon are sending — are so important, now more than ever, and we are so thankful that they’re advocating for all women.