Hundreds of female animators have written an open letter to top Hollywood executives in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal demanding an end to the “widespread” sexual harassment in the industry.
The letter, which was signed by the likes Bob’s Burgers‘ producer and writer Wendy Molyneux, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar and Danger & Eggs co-creator Shadi Petosky along with over 200 other animators, was sent anonymously to top executives at all of the major Los Angeles studios — including Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Paramount, and Sony Pictures Animation.
“In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many of the women who work in animation have begun discussing more openly issues that we have dealt with quietly throughout our careers,” the letter reads, The Hollywood Reporter reports. “As we came together to share our stories of sexism, sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault, we were struck by the pervasiveness of the problem.”
The letter continues:
As more women have entered the animation workforce, it still seems that some men have not embraced this change. They still frequently made crass sexual remarks that make it clear women are not welcome on their crews. Some have pressed colleagues for romantic or sexual relationships, despite our clear disinterest. And some have seen the entrance of more women into the industry as an opportunity to exploit and victimize younger workers on their crews who are looking for mentorship. In addition, when sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job. We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn’t safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault. This abuse has got to stop.
The letter goes on to make a number of demands relating to sexual harassment policies, which include amending the Animation Guild’s constitution to enforce policies that “censure, fine, suspend or expel” members “found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.”
It also demands that men “start speaking up and standing up for [women]” who they see as being sexually harassed.
“When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something,” it continues. “Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.”
In response to the letter, DreamWorks Animation’s CEO Chris DeFaria and head of TV animation Margie Cohn sent a letter to employees reaffirming their policies on sexual harassment.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to reinforce our company’s policy of safeguarding equal employment opportunities and prohibiting harassment of any kind,” their memo reads. “We stand together in supporting a culture in which individuals can, and are expected to, speak up, and one in which people are held accountable for their actions.”
The letter follows the firing of Nickelodeon’s animated series Loud House creator Chris Savino, who faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment and comes amid a mushrooming sexual harassment scandal within Hollywood and the movie industry following the revelation that Harvey Weinstein had sexually abused dozens of women over a period of decades.