On Thursday afternoon, Anne T. Donahue was partway through reading a bombshell piece in the New York Times — about decades of sexual harassment claims against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein — when she couldn’t contain her outrage any longer.
There, she recounted in a pair of quick tweets her first experience with what she called her own “Harvey Weinstein,” a then-boss at a radio station when Donahue was a 17-year-old high school student. The man had insisted on massaging her shoulders as she typed, Donahue wrote, “and liked to [tell] me things like why ‘girls my age’ liked giving blow jobs and not having sex. A GREAT TIME.”
Donahue, now 32 and a freelance writer living in Ontario, fired off tweets.
“I figured, at the very least, there’s my story,” Donahue said Saturday. “Maybe someone will see my story and feel less alone.”
Soon, dozens of replies were coming in. Then hundreds. Then thousands.
- There was a radio host who recalled being trapped in a bathroom by a co-worker who tried to get her to touch him inappropriately.
- The former driving student whose instructor told girls they wouldn’t get a license unless they kissed him. (“On the day of my test, I wore a big, long, ugly, bulky sweater,” she added. “Didn’t help. Wouldn’t let me out of the car until I let him kiss me.”)
- A man who, as a new hire, was told by his female trainer that he looked good on his knees.
(The Washington Post typically does not identify victims of sexual violence; we have linked to the examples in this story because they were posted publicly on social media and widely shared.)
Donahue’s original tweet has since been liked and retweeted thousands of times. At some point, several people began sharing their encounters with sexual harassment in the workplace, seemingly prompted by the New York Times article, using the hashtag #MyHarveyWeinstein.
Since the Times report broke Thursday, Weinstein has said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded. One-third of the company’s all-male board quit, and its remaining members said they were investigating the sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.
“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” Weinstein said in a lengthy statement. “Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
The #MyHarveyWeinstein wave was reminiscent of the thousands of sexual abuse stories that poured forth online last October, under the hashtag #NotOkay, after a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” video showed Donald Trump bragging on a hot mic about being able to kiss and touch women freely because he was “a star.”
“Grab them by the p — y,” Trump says in the recording. “You can do anything.”
On Saturday, Donahue said she had remembered the #NotOkay tweets from a year ago but said they weren’t why she had tweeted what she did. Though she said her first experience with sexual harassment came before she was 17, reading about the Weinstein allegations brought to mind her very specific encounters with the shoulder-rubbing boss because they reflected the same power imbalance.