Beyond being gratified that the #MeToo/Time’s Up movement has come to pass, I have been fascinated how it seems to have really come together only in the past six months.
I’ve seen Jodi Kantor, one of the New York Times reporters along with Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, several times on TV, usually on CBS This Morning but also on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And it was the Weinstein scandal, not only his reported illicit behavior but also the cover up, that unleashed the torrent of responses.
As Kantor has assessed the revolution: “My colleagues Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had done the story about Bill O’Reilly, his long trail of settlements with women. That was a light bulb moment. Editors at the Times…ask[ed] the question, ‘Are there other prominent male figures in American life who have covered up serious problems with treatment of women?'”
And she sees how the momentum built. “You could make an argument that the women who came forward about [Bill] Cosby affected the women who came forward about the men at Fox News, who affected the women who came forward about President Trump, who affected the women who came forward about Silicon Valley, who affected the women who came forward about Harvey Weinstein,” who was less well known than the women who reported his actions.
A week after Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech – ““I want all the girls watching to know a new day is on the horizon” – she spoke to seven powerful Hollywood women for CBS Sunday Morning and explored how much pain some of them still have with their #MeToo experience.
Winfrey asked Reese Witherspoon, who had “spoken of being assaulted on one of her first movies, at age 16,” how speaking out has “led to a greater sense of empowerment and control over it?”
“Well, I don’t know if I’ve gotten to that place yet,” Witherspoon replied. “As you can see, I’m very emotional about it. But I keep going back to somebody sent me this Elie Wiesel quote that said, ‘Silence helps the tormentors, it doesn’t help the tormented. And neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.'”
America Ferrera had posted about an incident when she “was nine years old being assaulted by a man who I was then sort of forced to see afterwards for a long time. And what struck me about my experience was his certainty that I would be silent. And he was right. He was right for 24 years.”
TV producer Shonda Rhimes says what most of the women were saying: “At a certain point there has to be room for reconciliation in a world… But a lot of people don’t think that right now — and a lot of women have the right to not feel that right now.”
Men need to understand that when women have been aggrieved for a VERY long time – Ferrera put it well: “Speaking of this moment, as a culture we’ve gone from not listening, hearing or believing women, and how were we going to skip over the whole part where women get to be heard, and go straight to the redemption of the perpetrators? Can’t we live in that space where it’s okay for perpetrators to be a little bit uncomfortable with what the consequences will be?”
I suppose this kind of sucks for men. But the status quo for women has sucked far, far longer.