A couple of weeks ago, an assistant of Matthew Weiner turned writer on Mad Men, Kater Gordon, alleged that Weiner had said to her one night at work that he deserved to see her naked. Gordon won an Emmy for co-writing an episode of Mad Men with Weiner, but was nevertheless let go and she’s never worked in Hollywood again.
The accusation was enough to at least disrupt Weiner’s current book tour (his book has received middling reviews, and is not selling particularly well). Three of 11 tour stops were cancelled, and moderators and other participants have dropped out of others.
Yesterday, Kater Gordon received support for her claims from Marti Noxon, creator and original showrunner on UnREAL and The Girls’ Guide to Divorce, plus a former senior assistant on Mad Men.
On the subject of Matt Weiner and #MadMen— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
About a week ago Kater Gordon, a young female writer who worked on Mad Men bravely came forward with her account of being sexual harassed by Matt Weiner. While sharing writing duties with him, she recalls that he causally mentioned 1/
something to the effect of "you owe it to me to show me your naked body."— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
I believe her. I was at work with her the day after what she described transpired. I remember clearly how shaken and subdued Kater was — and continued to be from that day on. 2/
Responding to her statement, Matt claimed he would never make that kind of comment to a colleague. But anyone with an even cursory knowledge of the show Mad Men could imagine that very line coming from the mouth of Pete Campbell. 3/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
Matt, Pete's creator, is many things. He is devilishly clever and witty, but he is also, in the words of one of his colleagues, an "emotional terrorist" who will badger, seduce and even tantrum in an attempt to get his needs met. 4/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
This personality type can not help but create an atmosphere where everyone is constantly off guard and unsure where they stand. It is the kind of atmosphere where a comment like "you owe it to me to show me your naked body"… 5/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
may — or may not — be a joke. And it may — or may not — lead to a demotion or even the end of a career. 6/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
Everyone at Mad Men, regardless of gender or position, was affected by this atmosphere. Why did we not confront him more or report him to our parent companies? Well, for one, we were grateful to him for the work and truly in awe of his talents. 7/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
For another, it was hard to know what was real when moods and needs shifted so frequently. Self-advocacy is important and I agree we all need to do it more and rely on less on faulty institutions to do it for us 8/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
But it is very difficult when the cost is, at best, fear and uncertainty — and at worst the loss of a job and ruined reputation. Taking that action is one thing to contemplate if you have money in the bank and family to fall back on 9/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
but quite another for people from all walks of life without a safety net. And when sexual favors are lightly added to the bag of tools one might use to stay employed and valued, it can be destabilizing or even devastating. 10/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
It may not be illegal, but it is oppressive. I witnessed it and, despite the fact that that I was a senior consultant on the show, I also experienced it in my own way in my days at Mad Men. 11/— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
I believe Kater Gordon.— marti noxon (@martinoxon) November 17, 2017
It also sounds like Matthew Weiner fits the personality type for so many sexual abusers: He’s an emotional terrorist, and it sounds like working on the set of Mad Men was a bad scene for everyone involved.
I would also add that at a stop on the book tour last night, Matt Weiner was joined on stage by Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black), who asked Weiner about the allegations. He denied them, but did not dispute that he was a demanding boss. Kohan, by the way, is the sister-in-law of Marti Noxon. Awkward.
Meanwhile, “champion” of feminist issues Lena Dunham issued a statement defending a friend and Girls writer Murray Miller, who was accused by actress Aurora Perrineau of sexually assaulting her in 2012 when she was only 17.
“While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year,” Dunham said in a statement issued by her and Girls showrunner Jenni Konner. “It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”
Social media spent much of the night lambasting Dunham for defending the man accused of rape. Most are suggesting that Dunham “believes women,” unless that woman is accusing a friend of hers, which is fair. I don’t care for Dunham as a person. Unless she knew something the rest of us do not, I have no idea why she’d issue this statement, and if she knows something the rest of us do not, she should probably let the rest of us know.
Meanwhile, a Democratic Senator was also pulled into all of this yesterday in a sign of what hopefully is not to come: Sexual assault allegations being weaponized as political tools. Yesterday, a “woman” on Twitter accused a Senator of sexual assault allegations dating back years, and right-wing Twitter immediately pounced on it, spreading the accusations across social media. However, hours later, it was revealed that the Twitter account was fake — created only a few days before and containing a picture of a woman who was not the accuser. By that time, the damage had already been done in certain circles (and because this is actual fake news, I won’t even mention the Senator’s name). It looks like it was a bot attack, and the Senator’s people are looking into its origins.
It’s unsettling, to say the least. We have just gotten to the point in our society where women are actually starting to be believed by most, so I would hate to see that put in jeopardy by allegations fabricated for political gain.