Mira Sorvino Advocates For Sexual Harassment Policy Reform In Lecture At Penn State
Academy Award-winning actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Mira Sorvino told the story of her own sexual harassment and journey to advocacy in a lecture at the HUB Wednesday night for UPUA’s Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.
Sorvino opened the talk by reviewing the social justice issues she’s seen during her lifetime. Born into the tail end of the Civil Rights movement, the lasting trials and tribulations of those advocating for their liberty paralleled with aspects of Sorvino’s life.
As a first-generation college student of an Italian-immigrant family, Sorvino recounted the abuse as her family’s story — domestic abuse toward women, which seemed commonplace during her childhood.
When her acting career first started, Sorvino found it difficult to take a stand against abuse. As her acting career began to take off, Sorvino encountered more and more instances of sexual harassment. She eventually started turning down once-in-a-lifetime movie offers because of the abuse. It was then that she realized she had to find the power within herself to walk away from success for the sake what was right.
After coming to terms with an instance of sexual assault Sorvino had experienced during her college years (something she rarely discusses due to its traumatic nature), she decided it was time to take a stand. She couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer.
“I didn’t see myself as worthy as the groups I had fought all my life for,” Sorvino said.
Sorvino was one of the first women to speak out against producer Harvey Weinstein, who has since been charged with predatory sexual assault and rape, among other offenses.
“Even after telling many people, no one told me, ‘This is sexual assault, you need to go to the police,'” Sorvino said. “Weinstein single-handedly was able to tank my career for over a decade. It was on me to ignore, deal with, and soldier on.”
After advocating for victims of sexual assault, Sorvino finally asked herself, “If I don’t tell the truth now, what am I? I have to be the person my daughter would respect.”
Sorvino has partnered with the Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization dedicated to expanding economic and educational opportunities for women, to get legislation passed. Her major focus has been on the “Take the Lead” anti-sexual harassment bills.
The package of bills was appealed to the California Senate and Assemblies to pass a stronger set of laws and common-sense workplace reforms against sexual harassment. The bills are backed by testimonies from victims of men in power, especially those in Hollywood.
“We could be the generation that ends it all.”
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