In January of 2020 the actor’s union for film and television, SAG/AFTRA outlined the need for the role of an intimacy coordinator when shooting scenes of intimacy, nudity and simulated sex and created protocols for the utilization of an IC to protect the actors in what they term as “hyperexposed” situations. (Read more about it here “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators”) All of this was necessitated in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal which was a natural consequence of the #MeToo movement which seems to have been a reaction to then presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood’s lewd hot mic assertion that “…when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything.” This misogynistic domino effect has led to a pronounced need to protect those in situations where imbalances of status have created terrible abuses of power and the film industry, with it’s Harvey Weinstein’s and history of casting couch quid pro quos is probably the most visible one to take the lead in trying to rectify the situation.
To that end SAG/AFTRA has established a Four Pillars of Change initiative for confronting harassment and advancing equity. A quick outline…
RULES AND GUIDELINES
SAG-AFTRA will develop materials that give members a clear understanding of their rights in the workplace and provide reliable guidance to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment and media industries. It includes a Code of Conduct along with scenario-specific guidance that outlines best practices and offers practical insights for members on how to avoid and/or address sexual harassment in the workplace and related environments.
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EDUCATION
SAG-AFTRA will provide training, expert panels and other educational programming to ensure that members have practical tools available to them when confronting, experiencing or witnessing harassing behavior.
SAG-AFTRA is reinforcing its capacity to intervene on members’ behalf as needed by among other initiatives working with Industry partners to pursue technology-based solutions that facilitate safe channels to report harassing conduct, identify predators and stop repeat offenders.
BUILDING BRIDGES AND SAFETY NETS
In recognition of the complex nature of this pervasive problem, SAG-AFTRA will work in collaboration with Industry stakeholders and other allies to help achieve a more equitable and harassment-free workplace.
While it may seem to some as “too little too late” I don’t think there is ever a bad time for social reform that brings focus to a history of inequity and sincerely advocates for the rights of those with less power and status. Gender, race, sexual preference, disability all demand visibility, parity and justice when those individuals are asked to perform at their most vulnerable. As an intimacy coordinator I work as an ally and an advocate by facilitating safety for everyone’s empowerment in service to the story.