She said, she said: screening women’s stories of sexual violence in the #MeToo era

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapter


When investigative journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story in the New York Times in October 2017, two of the seven women named in the article agreed to go on record; the rest “declined to comment” or said they were unable to. The article exposed decades of harassment, abuse and violence to which the now-incarcerated Hollywood producer subjected female employees, describing the silencing of assistants, executives and actors with confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements. Women sharing and telling stories of sexual violence is fundamental to the MeToo movement, both the viral #MeToo social media campaign that spotlighted Hollywood and the grassroots originator founded by Tarana Burke in 2006 with its specific focus on giving voice to Black, queer, trans, disabled communities and communities of color. Yet to speak out and share stories of sexual violence in the #MeToo era is a double-edged sword: to speak out is only the beginning. This chapter examines the telling of women’s stories of sexual violence in film in the #MeToo era, specifically film representations that spotlight Hollywood. What does it mean to screen women’s stories of sexual violence in the #MeToo era? I explore this question by drawing on three films released in the #MeToo era that feature women telling their stories of sexual violence: Women Talking (Sarah Polley, 2022), Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein (Ursula Macfarlane, 2019), and She Said (Maria Schrader, 2022). The films invite us to consider how women’s stories of sexual violence are represented, the choices that are made in screening women’s stories of sexual violence and the implications of those choices. The three films employ creative choices that disrupt, provoke, challenge the viewer and invite us to pause, reflect and respond. These moments and choices, I argue, are moments of performance/activism that contribute to the wider cultural reckoning regarding sexual violence and sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen and Hollywood: tales of inequality, abuse and resistance in the Dream Factory
EditorsKaren McNally
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Jan 2024

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