Following the growing number of stories shared by more than 50 women in the entertainment industry alleging sexual harassment or assault by producer Harvey Weinstein, thousands of women have been empowered and galvanized to share their own experiences with sexual assault. Using the hashtag #MeToo, a flood of survivors have come forward on social media with their stories. Many women participating in the movement have internalized and kept their experiences private for years out of shame, guilt, and a misplaced sense of responsibility. Weinstein’s list of accusers—which includes high-powered actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong’o, and Rosanna Arquette—demonstrates that even women who have managed to carve a niche for themselves in one of the most competitive and cut-throat industries are not immune to the culture that normalizes and downplays sexual harassment and violence.
Musician Björk has added her voice to the #MeToo movement, accusing an unnamed Danish director of sexually harassing her on set. While Björk never named the individual in the Facebook post which details her experience, fans were quick to point out that as she had only worked on one film with a Danish director, Lars von Trier, her alleged aggressor’s identity is somewhat obvious. Björk was an actress in von Trier’s 2000 film, Dancer in the Dark, a musical drama which enjoyed some critical acclaim. Björk cited physical, verbal, and psychological harassment that she experienced during filming, describing unwanted physical contact, unwanted and often graphic propositions, as well as emotional outbursts that resulted when she refused his advances:
“After each take the director ran up to me and wrapped his arms around me for a long time in front of all crew or alone and stroked me sometimes for minutes against my wishes…while filming in Sweden, he threatened to climb from his room’s balcony over to mine in the middle of the night with a clear sexual intention…(he) fabricated stories in the press about me being difficult by his producer…” (via Facebook).
Like most women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault, Björk has been questioned by many who doubt the validity of her statements, or believe her to be exaggerating or otherwise embellishing actual events. Especially as the singer has been rendered in the media as unpredictable, strange, and prone to outlandish performances both on stage and off, Björk will, unfortunately, have to deal with a significant amount of negative backlash by those who believe her to be lying. Björk alleges that the director played an active role in attempting to devalue and discredit her story, and vehemently denies the rumors which circulated during filming alleging that she once expressed her distaste for wardrobe choices by tearing and eating scraps of a shirt.
All in all, there seem to be more pieces of evidence that back Björk’s allegations than information that undercuts them. Her posts seem to indicate that other cast members and those on her professional team were likely at least aware of the harassment, although perhaps not its extent. Björk also warned actress Nicole Kidman in a letter to reconsider starring in von Trier’s film, Dogville. Von Trier has also confirmed the correspondence between the two women during an interview with GQ.
Björk had her own opinions on the reasoning behind the director’s actions:
“You can take quite sexist film directors like Woody Allen or Stanley Kubrick and still they are the one that provide the soul to their movies. In Lars von Trier’s case it is not so and he knows it. He needs a female to provide his work soul. And he envies them and hates them for it. So he has to destroy them during the filming. And hide the evidence” (via Facebook).
Read the full disclosure on Björk’s Facebook page: