The Answer to Sexual Harassment? More Women in Positions of Power

Actors may like to be the center of drama, but there’s no more sexual harassment on a movie set than in an insurance company – or politics.

Are movie sets hotbeds for sexual harassment? (Illustrative)
Everett Collection Inc. / Dreamstime

We’ll start from the end: There is no more sexual harassment on movie sets than in, say, high-tech firms, or in the restaurant business or in politics. This is true despite what’s now being claimed, in the wake of complaints that actor Moshe Ivgy sexually harassed women who worked with him. However trite it may sound, sexual harassment occurs in settings in which there are power relations, such as exists even between the attendant at a mikveh (ritual bath) and the woman who immerses herself there.

I also don’t think there is anything about the nature of work on a movie set that “invites” a particular crossing of lines – that “this is how things are between actors,” or that because there is dressing and undressing on the set, there are more shades of gray. It’s true that certain actors and filmmakers like to imagine that they are the center of all the drama, but I have no doubt that affairs that erupt in the corridors of insurance companies are no less torrid than those that develop behind-the-scenes.

Israeli actor Moshe Ivgy.
Moti Milrod

Certainly there is no connection between sexual harassment and romance, and neither the ostensible bohemian atmosphere nor creative passion on a set are of any relevance here. Sexual harassment occurs against a very limited and specific background: because it can. Because I can and because there are no sanctions. Because I am vital to the production and you are not. And not just as an actor.

In my view, the most relevant fact for understanding the dynamics of sexual harassment is not how many women “worth harassing” there are on a set, but how many women in key positions there are. How many female directors. How many chief producers. The infuriating tolerance for the “naughty” crossing of boundaries starts and perhaps also finishes in the zone of possibilities that are available to women in the film industry. A huge set on which you’ll find women in the roles of executive producer, makeup and dressing only, is a set that invites troubles. Artistic ones, too, by the way. But that’s already another story.

Rona Segal wrote the screenplay for the film “S#x Acts” ("Shesh Pa'amim").