How #MeToo calls everyone to fight sexual harassment and assault
The ultimate goal is to dismantle toxic constructions of masculinity. There are steps we can take now.
When women offer their experience as truth, all the maps change,” said novelist Ursula Le Guin. After movie producer Harvey Weinstein was outed as a sexual predator, thanks to the courage of a few actresses who spoke out, a multitude of other women began speaking the truth about their experiences. Women in the film industry stepped forward with more charges against Weinstein—who was fired—and hundreds of thousands of people around the world used the #MeToo hashtag on social media to highlight the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault. Their messages raised hopes that the old maps of gender and power are indeed beginning to change.
This burst of speech is a defiant counter to the patterns of silence that allow sexual predators to thrive. For almost 30 years Weinstein used his money and power to buy or bully women into silence. In another case, Fox News broadcaster Bill O’Reilly paid $32 million to settle a harassment case and silence the woman making the claim—and still got rehired by Fox, at an increased salary.
Will the resurgent conversation about harassment have any lasting effect in changing such patterns? Will the example of famous women speaking out against Weinstein be of any help to the lone, nonfamous woman trying to get a supervisor to believe her testimony and act on it? Will it change the culture of the workplace?