Actress and writer Zoe Kazan is speaking frankly about her distressingly common experiences with sexism and harassment in Hollywood.
“There’s so much sexual harassment on set,” the Big Sick star said in a recent interview with The Guardian. “And there’s no HR department, right? We don’t have a redress. We have our union, but no one ever resorts to that, because you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult.”
Kazan noted that her longtime boyfriend, the actor Paul Dano, has “never had to deal with that once,” while she and fellow actresses are frequently sexualized and objectified.
“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 ‘blowjob eyes,'” Kazan said. “You know, be flirty with a director or a producer. It’s the sense that your sexuality is somehow baked into this situation. Or there’ll be auditions where they’ll say, ‘Wear something body-conscious’ and then you’re aware that they’re checking out your body. 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.”
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Not all of Kazan’s on-set experiences have been like that — everyone on The Big Sick was “super respectful,” she said — and she has also become better equipped to fight harassment over the course of her career.
“That has got better as I’ve got older, partially, I think, because I’m better at knowing how to shut that down,” she said. “But it makes you feel guilty, and bad, as if it’s somehow your fault — that you’re somehow giving that person the signal that it’s okay to treat you that way.”
Read Kazan’s full interview in The Guardian.