Oscar winner Ben Affleck, who apologized last month to actress Hilarie Burton after she said he groped her on the MTV music show “Total Request Live” in the early 2000s, says he is belatedly realizing the scope of workplace sexual harassment and wants to help effect change.
“It’s obviously a terrible thing and it’s happening on a scale that I don’t think anybody except maybe women understood and recognized how terrible it was,” the actor, 45, told The Associated Press on Sunday during an interview to promote his upcoming film “Justice League.” Recent reports documenting decades of alleged sexual abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have been “opening a lot of people’s eyes to this,” Affleck noted.
“For me, that means also looking at my own behavior and addressing that, and making sure that I’m part of the solution and that I’m making positive steps and that we’re calling out other guys when we’re seeing behavior that’s inappropriate,” he continued.
He argued that, “Two things need to happen: One, more women need to be in positions of power so that women feel comfortable coming forward and having someone to report to.”
The star added, “It can’t just be a woman’s issue. It’s got to be a men’s issue as well. Otherwise, it’ll always be an issue.”
On Oct. 10, Affleck had reacted to the Weinstein allegations, writing on Facebook, “I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades. . . . We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”
When Burton (“One Tree Hill”) subsequently tweeted about the groping incident of over a decade ago, Affleck immediately responded, “I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”