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David Schwimmer Discusses Story Behind His Anti-Sexual Harassment PSAs
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2 Feb 2018 03:08 PM EST

-by Laura Tucker, Staff Writer; Image: David Schwimmer (Image Source: Philippe Berdalle via Wikimedia Commons)

This is definitely a case of perfect timing: David Schwimmer has just released a series of short films about sexual harassment in the workplace. And he wants to add another hashtag to the #MeToo movement: #ThatsHarassment.

The former Friends co-star created the PSAs with filmmaker Sig Avin. Each short film showcases a different form of sexual harassment that can even be seen on screens in the back of taxis in New York.

The two appeared on Megyn Kelly Today, and the actor explained why he went forward with this project.

"I certainly understand why, right now in the current climate, men are reluctant to come forward and speak," said Schwimmer, "which is a shame, because nothing's going to be accomplished without dialogue. So, part of our goal is to really try to bring men into the conversation."

Some men in the entertainment industry have garnered backlash for their opinions on the #MeToo movement, but Schwimmer thinks maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge.

"It's really unfair to completely condemn someone for trying to articulate how they feel," he said.

Schwimmer also wrote about the project in an op-ed for NBC News where he talked about having to see the sexual harassment his mother put up with in his youth.

"She was subjected to sexual harassment and a lot of discrimination, chauvinism and sexism — by judges, other lawyers, even clients. I grew up with those stories, and so did my sister," he wrote.

He also listened to stories from his sister and other women, and it frustrated him enough to where he wanted to make a difference.

This is not a new thing for him and not something he's just doing for "Me Too." He's been an advocate for child and adult victims of sexual violence, and for the past 15 years, he's been on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation. He knows with the #MeToo and Time's Up movements that there's more that can be done to help.

"I really noticed that women were being more openly demeaned and discredited, and then, with a presidential candidate boasting of committing sexual assault on audio tape, I thought, 'This is real. This is unacceptable.' I'm the father of a six-and-a-half-year-old daughter; if I'm going to do something about this for the future generations, now is the time."

In truth, Schwimmer's PSAs were released last April, several months before the Harvey Weinstein accusations started the ball rolling. After, he and Avin partnered with the Ad Council to create "call[s] to action" like adding the hotline for RAINN, and he created "a digital toolkit of 10 steps that employers can take to help prevent harassment in the workplace" with the National Women's Law Center.

"That, to me, is the most important piece of #ThatsHarassment: we're not just a movement to bring awareness to the issue; we are a campaign and a call to action," he wrote. "We are trying to provide real solutions to both get people empowered to report and heal and to get companies to reform their workplaces. I want to change things."

He's hoping to put an end to sexual harassment: "I want to make sure that every employer and every company understands what they can do to help prevent sexual harassment at work.

"If every company would do that, that would be a good start to ending the sexual harassment that women have had to endure for generations. And then, maybe, my daughter's generation won't have to endure what my mother's did and what mine did."

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