Actress and political activist Jane Fonda sees a direct link between the 2016 election of President Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement against workplace sexual harassment, which exploded 11 months later with the bombshell revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“A lot of women, enough women, a tipping point of women were so stunned that a man who could openly talk about abusing women became president,” Fonda said in an interview Tuesday. “I think it called up terrible memories for a lot of women, and I think it was like, ‘It’s enough. Time’s up.’”
“Women who had admitted to me previously what had happened with Harvey Weinstein had the guts to come forward and speak and, for the first time, be believed,” she said.
Fonda was in Sacramento on Tuesday to advocate for Assembly Bill 3080, which would ban forced arbitration agreements, under which workers, as a job condition, must give up their right to take complaints against their employer to court. The measure would also prohibit employers from requiring nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual misconduct.
After speaking on a panel with fellow activists – including Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom – Fonda planned to discuss the legislation with Gov. Jerry Brown, whom she has known since the 1970s.
“Whatever happened to you has to stay inside a closed room,” Fonda said. “Because it’s all secret and the victims have no access to a court of law in the public sphere, you don’t get a sense of patterns, whether a particular workplace or a particular person in that workplace has a pattern of abuse.”
Fonda said she did not experience sexual harassment throughout her six-decade career in Hollywood, “maybe because my father was Henry Fonda,” but nearly every friend of hers had “really bad situations.”
The #MeToo movement allowed women across industries and the economy to put the pieces of the experiences together, she added. Now she is lobbying Congress and in states across the country on issues like raising the minimum wage for restaurant workers, expanding protections for domestic workers and closing the gender pay gap.
“Like a lot of women, I wanted to be a good girl. So in most of my career, I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask, ‘Am I getting the same as my male counterpart?’” Fonda said. “Because it never occurred to me that I was worth equal pay.”