In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Wednesday night, activists and living deities Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem discussed the mounting number of sexual-assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. The pair appeared as representatives of the Women’s Media Center, a nonprofit organization they co-founded with Robin Morgan in 2005, which works to “raise the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women and girls in media.”
“It feels like something has shifted,” Fonda said of the current wave of accusations. “It’s too bad that it’s probably because so many of the women that were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are famous and white and everybody knows them. This has been going on a long time to black women and other women of color and it doesn’t get out quite the same.”
When asked about how the sheer number of accusers empowers victims of assault to come forward about their experience, Steinem answered:
If you steal money, you probably get arrested and convicted, because everybody says stealing is wrong. But if you do something that is very sexist or racist, because there still is a critical mass of bias in this country, it takes more cumulative instances for it to be recognized. So we have reached a tipping point I think.
Fonda also noted that while high-profile cases get all of the media attention, harassment is an issue in all fields, particularly the service industry.
“12 million people in the United States work in restaurants. Most of them are women. They’re often young, but not always, but they survive on tips, which means that they have to put up with a lot. You’re not being paid so you depend on your tips. This often is the first job, so these young women … it becomes the norm. ‘Nothing can be as horrible afterward as what was done to me in restaurants, so it must be this is just the way life is.’”
Watch the full interview below: