With allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein and now actor Ben Affleck rocking Hollywood, it may be useful to note that a number of entertainment industry A-list men have been accused of having at women without their consent. During his 2003 campaign for Governor Of California, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was hit with multiple allegations of sexual misconduct going back to the 1970's. The Los Angeles Times ran a story at the time with six women who pointed the finger of accusation at Schwarzenegger for incidents

How Schwarzenegger handled the allegations

At the time of the charges, Schwarzenegger was attempting to make a career change from action hero to politician.

The movie star had been involved in Republican politics for over a decade at the time, supporting candidates such as President George H. W. Bush. Schwarzenegger’s career as an action hero seemed to be on the decline, even though the third “Terminator" Movie had been successful earlier in 2003. When then-Governor Gray Davis was subjected to a recall election, Schwarzenegger saw his chance and threw his hat in the ring.

When the allegations of sexual misconduct that were alleged to have taken place on movie sets, in studio offices, and in other venues, hit, a spokesperson for the Schwarzenegger campaign denied the specific allegations. However, as the New York Times reported, the candidate admitted to unspecified instances of wrongdoing and offered a blanket apology.

He promised to be a “champion” for women as governor of California. Schwarzenegger went on to be elected handily. He also won reelection handily.

How did Schwarzenegger survive?

Sexual harassment has been an issue in the workplace since the 1990s, with many employers instituting zero-tolerance policies. Hollywood seemed to have been immune, thanks in part to the power wielded by powerful men like Weinstein and A-list stars like Ben Affleck and Schwarzenegger.

Women so victimized believed, at least until now, that speaking out would be a career limiting move.

The Schwarzenegger allegations took place during the heat of a political campaign when counter accusations of partisanship could be employed. And the Austrian born action hero was still popular with audiences. Many hoped that he was clean up the state government of California with the same zest that he defeated numerous fictional enemies in his movies.

Voters, ultimately, have Schwarzenegger a pass.

The same phenomenon could be seen last year when the Access Hollywood tapes appeared that showed then-candidate Donald Trump boasting of outrageous behavior toward women. Conventional wisdom at the time suggested that Trump’s hopes of becoming president had been sunk. That the then real estate tycoon and reality show star was elected anyway is a testimony to the limits of sexual harassment accusations, at least in a political context.