BETA
Close

Rosario Dawson Tackles Domestic Violence In New Thriller

People

Ever since starring in her first controversial movie Kids, Rosario Dawson has taken on complex roles that challenge her. It’s no wonder why the talented actress chose to star in the new thriller, Unforgettable, which deals with the troubling theme of domestic violence.


Part of her choice to join the cast was personal, Dawson told SWAAY at the movie premier, as her own mother worked at a women's shelter when Dawson was just 10 years old. “This (subject matter) is something that’s always been in my life, that I take very seriously,” says Dawson, regarding the subject of domestic abuse. "There were women and children who came in during the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs."

That experience infused her with activism; Dawson has been a board member of V-Day, an organization which helps stop the violence against women and children around the world. “I didn’t want this to be used in a film for some minor character note, I really wanted the film to say something," says Dawson.

In Unforgettable, Julia, (Dawson) is a newly engaged writer who has emerged from a personal dark period, in which she was being abused by an ex-boyfriend. While Julia is excited to start her life with her fiancé, David (played by Geoff Stults), a divorced father of one, she still hasn’t shared with him the emotional scars from her past.

Dawson says that while filming, an important part of her process was having an open dialogue about the movie's subject matter with producer, Denise Di Novi.
"We wanted to be really honest about it…when one in three women are being raped, killed or beaten in their lifetime, that’s over a billion women on the planet," says Dawson. "I loved that this was an opportunity to play a character who had gone through that and had sought help. [My character] is a survivor--she got her perpetrator in custody, went to court, got a restraining order, and she checked herself somewhere to get psychological help. While that's something that happened off camera, you see how much that has affected her. These tools end up saving her in this film.”
About her character, Dawson says, “You’re catching Julia at that ‘pinch me’ moment when she’s happy and in love. She is excited about the steps she is taking to build a new life, but because of everything she’s gone through before, it’s hard for her to trust in it and not wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. I was rooting for her because I know how that feels, and I think anyone could understand what that might be like."

In the movie's Dawson's Julia is also dealing with her partner's increasingly manipulative ex wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

"She’s definitely stepping into this new experience with excitement, but also some trepidation because she didn’t have the kind of upbringing that makes her feel secure about being a parent," Dawson says. "That puts her at an obvious disadvantage when she meets Tessa. At first, Tessa appears to be doing her best to make the transition as smooth as possible, but you see pretty early on that she’s actually not as welcoming as she pretends to be and is trying to gaslight Julia.”

To be sure, both women in this film are suffering trauma. This theme is explored through detailed character development, Dawson says.
"Amazingly, my character, who has the least resources of all of them, has actually gotten some emotional help and given herself a leg up," says Dawson. "While these other women, who should have access to everything, don’t use it, because they keep the skeletons in the closet and don’t talk about it."
“We need to really look at the ugly, in order to get it out of our lives," Dawson says. "That’s a really important lesson."
In her own life, Dawson says that thankfully she hasn't had to deal with any crazy ex-boyfriends, but that she has had many experiences with stalkers and "all kinds of crazy things," she says. "That was scary to reflect upon and think about."
In terms of relationships, Dawson said she's in fact, very timid. "I have been really lame in my breakups, writing really sad little handwritten letters that I dropped off at their house," she says. "Those are the moments that I look back and think, 'yea I could have been a little bit classier and taken that a little bit better.'"
The first film for director, Di Novi (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Focus), Unforgettable explores the notion of the self, and how important it is to feel whole without a relationship as well as with one.
"Tessa’s entire life has been geared toward having the perfect life—the right marriage, the right husband, the right house," says Di Novi. "Julia escaped an abusive relationship and has worked hard to move past it, yet she is still hiding it from David. So it is kind of a cautionary tale for women about what can happen when your whole identity rests on your relationship with a man, good or bad.”
Di Novi says that working with Heigl and Dawson was inspiring, as both inherently possessed similar characteristics that their respective characters did.

“The thing that got me about Rosario when I met her, is that she has an inherent goodness about her and a huge heart and I knew that would work for the role," says Di Novi. "Julia also has a kind of joie de vivre and Rosario nailed that part of the character. You see why David fell in love with Julia: she’s funny, sexy and spontaneous and doesn’t care about being a little messy, and that’s a breath of fresh air to him after being married to someone like Tessa, who is very good at keeping that perfect veneer.”

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.