Zoe Kazan reveals why she was afraid to speak up about sexual harassment she experienced on movie sets
Recently, The Big Sick actress Zoe Kazan recalled being sexually harassed on set, and her response to the disturbing incident mirrors that of many women who experience sexual harassment at work, in that she admits to being afraid to speak up.
The 33-year-old spoke with The Guardian about some of the lewd violations she and some of her fellow actress friends have either witnessed or been subjected to while working.
"I have a lot of girlfriends who are amazing actors, and many times we've talked about having to go into a room and give 'blow job eyes,'" Kazan told The Guardian. "You know, be flirty with a director or a producer. It's the sense that your sexuality is somehow baked into this situation."
Kazan also revealed that she keeps some of the encounters she’s had on set to herself to avoid upsetting her boyfriend of 10 years, actor Paul Dano.
"I had a producer ask me on set once if I spat or swallowed," Kazan recalled. "At work. He'd say, 'Oh, it's a joke ha ha.' But he was also paying my check and then watching me from the monitor as I made out with another actor — so when he tells me I look good, it feels different."
One of the main reasons victims are hesitant to file complaints is due to the fact that they are frequently shamed or dismissed. Furthermore, Kazan explains how intimidating it is to call out a perpetrator who is also in a position of power, despite belonging to a union that’s meant to regulate and protect actors from these types of incidents.
“There’s no HR department. We don’t have a redress,” Kazan said. “We have our union, but no one ever resorts to that, because you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult…You leave the situation feeling not good about what just happened, but you don’t really have the language for why. You feel like, if you said something, it would reflect badly on you.”
While Kazan’s stories are downright terrifying, we applaud her decision to be vocal. By speaking out, she continues to help spread awareness about sexual harassment, which is necessary to destigmatize the topic and empower other victims to reclaim their voices and avoid suffering in silence.