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"He's existed, and these people have existed forever. When I was growing up, this would have been considered normal human behavior. There was no law against it, there were no words for it; it was just the way the world was," she told Elle.com in a new interview conducted as news was breaking of Weinstein's alleged misconduct.
Dozens of women, including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mira Sorvino, have now come forward in reports by The New York Times, The New Yorker and more accusing movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault. Some allegations date back three decades.
A spokesperson for the movie executive told The New Yorker, "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein." In a statement, his spokesperson added that "there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances."
Weinstein’s lawyer has also said he plans to sue The New York Times for "false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein."
Before the allegations came to light and the movie mogul was fired from the entertainment company he co-founded, Weinstein helped endow Rutgers University's new Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies.
Rutgers has said it will move forward with setting up the endowment, even while the University of Southern California is turning away a $5 million donation from Weinstein to endow a scholarship program for women filmmakers.
"We think devoting these funds to advance women's equality is a better use of the dollars than returning the donation to Harvey Weinstein and the H. Weinstein Family Foundation," Dory Devlin, director of Rutgers media relations, said in a statement.
Asked whether Weinstein's downfall signaled the end of toxic masculinity, Steinem said, "It’s not the last gasp, but it is a step on the way to it because the popular opinion is: This is wrong. There are words for it. There are laws for it. You get punished for it. You get fired for it. It’s a step on the way."