Dozens of actresses have shared stories of sexual misconduct at his hands, and now Empire's Kaitlin Doubleday explains why she went up to Harvey Weinstein's hotel room. She shares few details about the alleged encounter itself, but sheds light on the impossible choice faced by many of Weinstein's alleged victims: having to choose between their own comfort, both physical and emotional, and their careers.
Like many women, Doubleday had been warned about Weinstein's behavior prior to meeting with him. But she ultimately agreed to go up to his private suite anyway, and the question of why is the subject tackled by the actress in a guest column, published Friday in The Hollywood Reporter.
Today, Doubleday has featured in over 30 episodes of Empire as Rhonda Lyon, but at the time of the alleged incident, she was still a struggling actor. She claims she met the famous producer at the 2009 premiere of Inglorious Basterds, which she'd attended as her sister Portia Doubleday's date. Portia had recently starred in another Weinstein Company feature, Youth in Revolt, and the now-disgraced head of the company allegedly used that connection to get Kaitlin's phone number.
He allegedly used it, and the two set up a meeting, even though Doubleday had been warned by her manager "about a few actresses who said they had been sexually harassed by him." But the Empire star says that she was able to justify her decision in the moment by reasoning that she wouldn't let it happen to her. She would meet him in a public place, but she would meet him. Doubleday was a 25-year-old actress who'd been struggling to form a career for seven years, and an influencer of Weinstein's caliber knowing her name and reaching out felt like "an insanely huge carrot dangling in front of [her]." It would be fine.
But in Doubleday's words, "Now the world knows what happens when Harvey Weinstein invites you to his hotel room," and it hardly ever seems to turn out fine. Although the actress doesn't get specific about exactly what happened, it's clear she's alleging that something did, and that she's spent a lot of time thinking about it in the years since.
But instead of being weighed down by the knowledge, Doubleday is pushing back and challenging her feelings of guilt and shame. She feels that many women would have made the same choice that she did, and explains exactly the balancing act that a victim facing a powerful abuser must perform.
"As women, our careers are so different from our male counterparts'. We have fewer opportunities. We don't make as much money. We are judged by our looks and are torn apart as we age — as if we have any control over time. And because of that, we aren't afforded the same longevity as men. It's sad but true. Women make decisions like the one I did for so many reasons. Women go into the hotel room because so many of the doors they see are closed. It can be tempting to enter the one that remains open."
When it comes down to a choice between safety and career, many critics choose to condemn the choice made by the victim. But what Doubleday's point seems to be is that the nature of abuse is in making someone choose. Your own comfort should never come at the cost of your career, or vice versa, but there's no wrong decision to make when you find yourself facing down those options.
It's the person who asks you to make that decision who's the problem, and that's what we could all do better at remembering moving forward.