Matthew Weiner, creator and writer of the hit series “Mad Men,” is being accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant and writer, Kater Gordon.
Gordon told The Information on Thursday that during her time on the show, where she was Weiner’s personal assistant and later promoted to a staff writer, the show runner demanded to see her naked. Weiner often encouraged Gordon to pitch her own ideas, she said, and had offered her a chance to co-write one of the season finales when he came on to her.
“He told me that I owed it to him to let him see me naked,” Gordon told The Information.
At the time, Gordon said, she brushed the comment off and kept working, but felt threatened and demeaned. She felt that speaking out would ruin her career and her chance at a valuable credit on the season finale, she said, so she stayed silent aside from telling a colleague.
“I thought, ‘I can’t do anything to jeopardize,’” Gordon told The Information. “I need this credit. I saw no value to speaking out. So, I did what I thought women were supposed to do.”
The episode Weiner and Gordon co-wrote, “Meditations In An Emergency,” went on to win an Emmy. Weeks after, Weiner called Gordon to let her know he wouldn’t be bringing her on for another season.
Rumors began to fly online, detailed on Gawker, about whether an unprofessional relationship between the two caused the sudden departure of the Emmy-winning writer. Gordon gave a comment denying the rumors, and stopped working in television.
Weiner’s reps did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but did give a statement to The Information.
“Mr. Weiner spent eight to ten hours a day writing dialogue aloud with Miss Gordon, who started on ‘Mad Men’ as his writers assistant,” the statement read.
“He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague.”
Then something changed in the industry: Dozens of women accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of harassment and assault in The New York Times, The New Yorker and HuffPost, and he was kicked out of the motion picture academy and the Producers Guild in response. More powerful men, such as actor Kevin Spacey and New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish, were also accused of sexual misconduct and lost their jobs, and women felt more empowered to disclose such behavior.
Gordon is founding Modern Alliance, a nonprofit that produces what she calls “visual scripts” on how to stand up for victims.
“It’s great to hold certain men accountable for their actions, but that is not going to immediately benefit somebody who’s working in retail and is being harassed by someone next to him or her in the workplace,” Gordon told The Information.