Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist has called for industry change in the entertainment world, after a producer on a number of The CW shows has been suspended over sexual harassment accusations.
Benoist has played Supergirl for over two seasons now, providing a rare female role model in the comic book world to viewers, and spearheading a TV show that champions feminism in an empowering, upbeat way. As the show returns for its third season, though, the disparity between what The CW’s programme represents and the real world behind-the-scenes has never been more apparent: last week, CW co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg, who has worked on Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, was suspended, after accusations were made of sexual misconduct.
15 women and four men spoke to Variety about alleged incidents over several years of touching without permission, requests for massages from female staff members and sexualised comments about employees’ appearance. Since his suspension, pending further investigation by Warner Bros., Benoist posted a statement on Twitter, not directly referring to Kreisberg, but responding to the growing wave of sexual harassment allegations that is sweeping through an industry long run by men.
“I am a woman who leads a show that supports equality and feminism, empowerment and fighting for what is right. I have always tried to conduct myself this way personally, as well,” Benoist wrote. “Sadly, the show and my career are a part of an industry that doesn’t always mirror these sentiments.”
“When people commit crimes or harass others they should always be held accountable—no matter what industry they work in or how much power they wield,” she added, concluding: “This week, I’ll head back to work on Supergirl even more committed to being part of changing the norm by listening when people speak up, and refusing to accept an environment that is anything less than a safe, respectful and collaborative space.”
Arrow star Emily Bett Rickards joined her in posting a statement on Twitter, saying: “To the men who committed harassment, who perpetuated rape culture, who turn a ‘blind eye,’ and complain about ‘reverse sexism’: you are weak and complicit.” She added the women who have spoken up are “heroines”.
Kreisberg told Variety last Friday: “I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized. Like many people, I have given someone a non-sexual hug or kiss on the cheek.”
“He denies that any inappropriate touching or massages occurred,” the publication reported.