Awareness of Exploitation of Women and gender non-conforming people in the Animation Workforce.

In 1941 Disney animators protested Walt Disney Studios. They started the protest because it was impossible to live with the hours and pay Walt was offering. It wasn’t sustainable for their mental wellbeing or to support their families. The protests lasted nine weeks until Roy Disney had to give in because he was compelled by federal mediators, the boycotts, and his Bank of America Financier (Sito). He was forced to recognize the guild. After the guild was established everyone went back to work and money was doubled and the animators actually got screen credits. It is hard to believe there was a time where animators weren’t credited in the films they helped create (Sito).
The Screen Cartoonists guild made one of the largest impacts on the Hollywood animation scene. They helped pave the way for animators to earn a pension, medical insurance, and a higher standard of living (Sito). So, this must mean that, since the guild is in place, everything is fixed, correct? We all know this is false, the one thing they forgot about was women or gender non-conforming people and sexual harassment in the workplace.
After the #metoo movement, a lot of people’s eyes have been opened about the way Hollywood has been treating women. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many women in animation also stepped forward and have started talking about what has happened throughout their time in the animation field. The world has woken up to the fact that sexual harassment in every workplace is actually a thing, even in animation (wow shocker). Especially since the John Lasseter scandal, and especially since he has been fired from Disney and Pixar altogether. Since then, more and more people have spoken up and accused people who have sexually assaulted them, like the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show was accused of systematic sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse of teenage girls over the entirety of his animation career (The dot and line).  Also, Chris Savin who was the showrunner of The Loud House was fired a year ago because of allegations of sexual wrongdoing and threats of retribution (The dot and line).
More and more women are speaking up about sexual abuse in the workplace, which, even though it is difficult, they are making a difference by speaking about it. Studies show that one in three women experience sexual harassment in the workplace (Vagianos). That’s an insane amount of women who have gone through something like this. And sadly studies also show about only 29% of women actually report the harassment, and only 15% feel like they have been treated fairly (Vagianos). Those are staggering numbers. Which is why speaking up and giving a voice to other women is a brave and amazing thing to do and it can help create change. But speaking up can be hard especially from the fear of if you speak up you might be blacklisted. A woman who worked on Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil in 2012 gave an account, at a Women in Animation panel, of what happened to her when she was sexually harassed, “she initially confided in a manager, who discouraged her from reporting the harassment to human resources. The Animation Guild former business agent offered no help, saying, “At least you have a job.” Once she finally met with human resources and sought assurances that she would not be blacklisted or fired for pursuing a complaint, she was told: “I can’t guarantee your job”” ( Chmielewski).
Since this woman was a single mom, and she needed to support her family, she really didn’t have a choice so she kept quiet. But she finally spoke out in 2017 and identified the man who sexually harassed her as Chris Savin, the now ex-creator of loud house ( Chmielewski). Times are changing, and women are a bit more comfortable speaking out especially after the #metoo movement ( even though they shouldn’t have to because knowing that you shouldn’t sexually harass people should be common sense). Such as the 200 female animators, who have spoken out and have written a letter to Hollywood executives insisting on an end to sexual harassment in the animation industry (Kew). This letter makes many demands to improve the workplace for women, including improving sexual harassment policies by amending the Animation Guild constitution to make sure that if someone is guilty of sexual assault they are properly punished for it (Kew). The letter also asked that men in the workplace start speaking up for the women around them if they are seeing them being harassed. Chris DeFaria, the CEO of Dreamworks, and Margie Cohn, head of Dreamworks TV, responded to the letter by reestablishing their policies on sexual misconduct in the workplace (Kew). This letter and people speaking out are taking amazing steps and making many opportunities for women in the animation industry to change the way men treat women in the office.
Change only happens when we band together and speak out. Just like the 1941 protests, the animators protesting knew that if they all didn’t band together and speak out as a whole union, change wouldn’t come if only a few of them stood together, If that happened the people who protested would run out of money would have to come crawling back to their old jobs, back to the old unfair intolerable status quo. But those protestors banded together and the majority supported the cause which caused a change in the industry. History does repeat itself, If we speak up about the sexual harassment in our field, band together and make sure this industry knows that their workforce won’t stand for this, then there is nothing we can’t achieve. I am attaching the note that those 200 women sent and signed, as well as a link to Women in Animation sexual assault resources. If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted you are not alone.
http://womeninanimation.org/sexualharassment/

An Open Letter to the Animation Community

We, the women and gender non-conforming people of the animation community, would like to address and highlight the pervasive problem of sexism and sexual harassment in our business. We write this letter with the hope that change is possible and ask that you listen to our stories and then make every effort to bring a real and lasting change to the culture of animation studios.

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. 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. Every one of us has a story to share, from tossed-off comments about our body parts that were framed as “jokes” to women being cornered in dark rooms by male colleagues to criminal assault.

Our business has always been male-dominated. Women make up only 23% of union employees, so it’s no surprise that problems with sexism and sexual harassment exist. Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues that primarily affect women, with women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups affected at an even greater rate.

As more women have entered the animation workforce, it seems that some men have not embraced this change. They still frequently make 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 signatories of this letter demand that you take sexual harassment seriously. We ask that:

1. Every studio puts in place clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies and takes every report seriously. It must be clear to studio leadership, including producers, that, no matter who the abuser is, they must investigate every report or face consequences themselves.

2. The Animation Guild adds language in our constitution that states that it can “censure, fine, suspend or expel any member of the guild who shall, in the opinion of the Executive Board, be found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.” To craft and support the new language, we ask that an Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee be created to help educate and prevent future occurrences.

3. Our male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us. When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.

It has not been easy for us to share our stories with each other. Many of us were afraid because our victimizers are powerful or well-liked. Others were worried that if they came forward it would affect their careers. Some of us have come forward in the past, only to have our concerns brushed aside, or for our supervisors to tell us “he’s just from a different era.” All of us are saddened and disheartened to hear how widespread the problem of sexual harassment still is in the animation industry, and how many of our friends had been suffering in secret.

It is with this in mind that we resolve to do everything we can to prevent anyone else from being victimized. We are united in our mission to wipe out sexual harassment in the animation industry, and we will no longer be silent.

Signed,

Abigail Davies
Ae Ri Yoon
Alejandra Quintas
Alex Mack
Alice Herring
Aliki Theofilopoulos
Allie Splain
Allison Kim
Allison Perry
Alyx Jolivet
Amalia Levari
Amanda Li
Amanda Turnage
Amber Vucinich
Amelia Lorenz
Aminder Dhaliwal
Angela Li
Angelina Ricardo
Anna Hollingsworth
Anna O’Brian
Anne Walker Farrell
Annisa Adjani
Arlyne Ramirez
Ashley Fisher
Ashley King
Ashlyn Anstee
Audrey Diehl
Aurry Tan
Becky Lau
Bethany Lo
Bri Neumann
Brianne Drouhard
Bridget Ore
Brittany Rochford
Cameron Butler
Careen Ingle
Carly SIlverman
Caroline Director
Caroline Foley
Carrie Liao
Casey Follen
Catharina Sukiman
Chelsea McAlarney
Cheyenne Curtis
Chivaun Fitzpatrick
Christina Faulkner
Christine Liu
Citlalli Anderson
Clio Chiang
Daniaelle Simonsen
Danielle Bonadona
Danny Ducker
Diana Huh
Diana Kidlaied
Diem Doan
Elaine Wu
Elisa Phillips
Elise Fachon
Elise Willis
Elizabeth (Betsy) Bauer
Elizabeth Ito
Elizabeth McMahill
Emily Brundige
Emily Rice
Emily Walus
Emily Quinn
Erin Kavanagh
Eunsoo Jeong
Evon Freeman
Faryn Pearl
Ginny Hawes
Gizelle Orbino
Grace Babineau
Grace Mi
grace young
Haley Mancini
Hannah Ayoubi
Heather Gregersen
Hilary Florido
Hillary Bradfield
Hsuan Ho
Ilana M Schwartz
Jackie Bae
Jacqueline Sheng
Jean Kang
Jen Bardekoff
Jen Bennett
Jenn Ely
Jenn Strickland
Jenna Boyd
Jenny Cho
Jess Marfisi
Jessica Gao
Jessica von Medicus
Jessie Greenberg
Jessie Wong
Jihyun Park
Jill Sanford
Joanna Leitch
Jocelyn Sepulveda
Jordan Rosato
Julia Kaye
Julia Layton
Julia Pott
Julia Srednicki
Julia Vickerman
Julianne Martin
Kaitlyn Ritter
Kaitrin Snodgrass
Karen C. Johnson
Kassandra Heller
Kat Good
Katie Rice
Kayla Carlisle
Kelly Gollogly
Kellye Perdue
Kelsey Norden
Kendra Melton
Kennedy Tarrell
Kiki Manrique
Kiley Vorndran
Kim Le
Kim Roberson
Kimberly Knoll
Kristen Gish
Kristen Morrison
Kristin Koch
Lacey Dyer
Lamb Chamberlin
Laura Hohman
Laura Sreebny
Lauren Duda
Lauren Faust
Lauren Patterson
Leah Artwick
Lily Williams
Lindsay Carrozza
Lindsey Pollard
Lisa Hanawalt
Lissa Treiman
Liz Climo
Lorraine Grate
Lorraine Howard
Lucyola Langi
Lynn Wang
Maaike Scherff
Madeline Queripel
Maggie Kang
Maha Tabikh
Mallory Carlson
Maria Nguyen
Mariah-Rose Marie M
Mariana Chan
Mary Nash
Mayumi Nose
McKenna Harris
Megan Dong
Megan Lloyd
Megan Phonesavanh
Megan Waldow
Megan Willoughby
Melissa Juarez
Melissa King
Melissa Levengood
Michelle Lin
Michelle Thies
Miho Tomimasu
Mingjue Chen
Minty Lewis
Mollie Freilich
Monica Davila
Monica DeStefano
Naomi Hicks
Natasha Kline
Nicole Rivera
Niki Lopez
Nooree Kim
Nora Meek
Patricia Burgos
Phylicia Fuentes
Rebecca Sugar
Rebecca Wallace
Reem S. Ali-adeeb
Rianna Liu
Rikke Asbjoern
Sabrina Cotugno
Sabine Doerstling
Sam King
Samantha Gray
Sarah Johnson
Sarah Marino
Sarah Oleksyk
Sarah Soh
Sarah Visel
Sasha Schotzko-Harris
Shadi Petosky
Sheri Wheeler
Sofia Alexander
Sona Sargsyan
Stacy Renfroe
Stephanie Gonzaga
Stephanie Simpson
Stephanie Stine
Su Moon
Sue Schaller
Sydney Sharp
Talia Ellis
Tara H.
Tara N Whitaker
Traci Honda
Tuna Bora
Valerie Schwarz
Victoria Harris
Wendy Molyneux
Yingjue Chen
Zabrina McIntyre
Zoe Miller

Bibliography

Chmielewski, Dawn C. “One Female Animator’s Emotional Story Punctuates Harassment Panel.” Deadline, 7 Dec. 2017, deadline.com/2017/12/women-in-animation-sexual-harassment-1202221766/.

Kew, Ben. “200 Female Animators Write Letter to Top Hollywood Executives Demanding End to ‘Widespread’ Sexual Harassment.” Breitbart, 21 Oct. 2017, www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2017/10/21/200-female-animators-write-letter-top-hollywood-executives-demanding-end-widespread-sexual-harassment/.

Sito, Tom. “The Disney Strike of 1941: How It Changed Animation & Comics.” Animation World Network, 19 July 2005, www.awn.com/animationworld/disney-strike-1941-how-it-changed-animation-comics.

The Dot and Line. “#MeToo Comes to Cartoons – The Dot and Line.” The Dot and Line, The Dot and Line, 30 Mar. 2018, dotandline.net/john-kricfalusi-sexual-abuse-ab30b6f53b6e.

Vagianos, Alanna. “1 In 3 Women Has Been Sexually Harassed At Work.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/1-in-3-women-sexually-harassed-work-cosmopolitan_n_6713814.html.

11 Replies to “Awareness of Exploitation of Women and gender non-conforming people in the Animation Workforce.”

  1. This is all so valid and so incredibly sad. And I’m really glad that you pointed out how easy it is for people accused of harassment to get another job or not face any consequences, because it’s just so backwards considering the fact that the victims are the ones who may or may not get to remain employed. This fact alone should be enough to convince people how messed up the whole system is.

  2. This is heartbreaking and encouraging at the same time. Heartbreaking because these animators had to go through this experience while doing what they love with no real protection from their employer. Yet, encouraging because of the strength of numbers. Like you said in the article, we can do incredible things when we come together united on an issue. I think we sometimes forget that the people who are perceived to have “power” are given that power from the “powerless.” A politician can not be a representative without the people: Business owners can not be rich without consumers’ dollars: and the same goes for the animation industry. I think that if we truly wanna make change, its time to put our money where are mouth is, and divest from companies that do not meet our expectations: on screen and off.

  3. It is heartbreaking to see and hear so many of the same stories happening to women all over animation, to feel so helpless in a historically male-dominated industry. That said, I’m glad women who were silent before finally have a voice to speak up about these injustices. Everyone deserves a voice and no one should feel uncomfortable doing what they love. Cassandra Smolcic’s story of working at pixar is a particularly hard read. I read recently that Lasseter is in search of a new job now, so who knows if redemption is an option or if his old habits won’t die.

  4. I didn’t realize that animators didn’t get screen credit until the 1941 protest. In my opinion, having screen credit, especially back then because that’s like the only way that they were able to get credit. Moving forward, it’s terrifying to know that women have come forward about their experience of sexual harassment and are worried about being blacklisted or not having their job like the woman who worked on Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil. I really do hope treatment of women in the workplace gets better and that when women do come forward about their experience of sexual harassment that they are taken seriously and not disregarded.

  5. The fact that this is an issue at all is completely unacceptable and disheartening, but at the same time proactive efforts from these women has proved that change can happen. As you said, movements don’t make a difference unless people unite in solidarity and together speak up for justice. The momentum of the #metoo movement has become a revolutionary movement in that it calls for direct accountability for the actions of some very famous and protected hollywood icons. And it’s worked. Definitely not for everyone, and definitely not completely, but it has started a push for difference and I think that’s something to be celebrated.

  6. I’m very disheartened to know that in today’s day and age, this is still an issue. I think its appalling that women need to be in fear of their own job safety when an action like this occurs or be afraid that nothing will be done about it. Change does need to happen and the signed letter of 200 women in the animation industry is just a start. I love animation and what it has done to influence my life, but when I hear of stories like these, it makes me wonder where the change will come from. The terrible thing is that these issue will still be a thing when I join the industry and that is awful. As a graduating senior this year, I will be a part of the industry that will make the difference and stand up for those around me, hopefully leading to a better future for us in the future.

  7. Although it is not an unheard of issue, one of the facets of this problem that continues to be staggeringly upsetting is the lack of resource that was offered in terms of strictly professional bylaws and reassurances. Similarly to the way that Civil Rights movements (feminist movements, black power movement, etc.) failed to ignore intersectionalities in their members as they progressed, I find it incredibly alarming that in the establishing of rights for a field of workers, women’s rights continue to be overlooked, especially in male-dominated fields; but the fact that in an industry where creating unions and fighting for fair working conditions tends to be at the forefront of a good amount of industry workers continually paid little mind to the plight of women within it is baffling.

  8. I’m really glad you touched on this because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot since my internship this summer. While fortunately, I was not the victim of sexual harassment, I did see some of my male co-workers exhibit sexist behaviour and on one account listened as they laughed at the rape joke posted on twitter by the Guardians of the Galaxy director. It made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. As one of only two women in a room of 8 people and just an intern, I never felt sure in my position to speak up unless my female coworker did it first. Aaaahhhhh I don’t really have a point here with this response but thank you again for bringing this up.

  9. Like some people before have said, it is really disheartening to hear that sexism is so alive in an industry that I am so passionate about working in. It’s hard to fathom since most of the animation students at LMU are women that animation is still mostly run by the men in the business and that women are still harassed and not treated as equals. It definitely does make me more wary of the possible job offers I will and won’t get and will make me more wary of the industry as a whole. At the same time, however, this does make me more passionate about proving my worth in animation as a woman and showing that we can be just as respected and talented in the business (and making them know that we cannot and should not be harassed).

  10. It honestly sickens me how many large Hollywood films claim to be made in the name of feminism, but actually have these twisted standards of sexual oppression of women going on behind the scenes. The fact that women are pressured into staying silent for fear of losing their jobs especially angers me. Studio execs would rather brush some pretty horrifying tales of sexism under the rug instead of protecting the women who make their films possible.

  11. I always speak with people about the horrible treatment of women in classic Hollywood, but the sad thing is that it hasn’t really ended. Everyday I hear more tragic stories about how women have been mistreated and/or sexually harassed in their work places. And like you said, many of them face the threat of losing the money that they earn or being called liars if they do something about it. But now things have changed, and I’m so glad that women are taking a stand and making sure that this mistreatment ends. With movements like this, I hope that future women in the industry no longer face this threat.

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