Following the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s offenses against women in the workplace, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted on October 15, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. #MeToo”
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World
Milano’s tweet brought new life to the #MeToo campaign that actually began more than ten years ago by activist Tarana Burke. Those 86 characters of copy and the #MeToo hashtag became a battle cry that galvanized millions of responses in the weeks that followed. Facebook reported that 45 percent of its U.S. members had friends who posted about #MeToo. Many of these people commented about their own personal experiences with sexual predation and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
As more scandals began to be exposed, more victims felt empowered to safely tell their stories as a result of #MeToo. If you blinked at all during the past two months, just a partial list of recent allegations against celebrities will serve as an impressive demonstration of how far the movement has come in bringing out of darkness some of the best-kept secrets in Washington, the media, the music industry, and Hollywood.
But make no mistake, these secrets exist in DFW offices too.
The list of celebrities charged with allegations of sexual misconduct represents the full spectrum of offenses, from minor groping and verbal harassment to serial rape. The names on this list are innocent until proven guilty, but we haven’t seen such a long list compiled in such a short time… perhaps in the history of this country. In fairness, the alleged offenses of some (i.e., George H.W. Bush) pale in comparison to others (i.e., Bill Cosby), but the collection of names paints a startling picture of an epidemic that is quickly coming to define the year 2017.
Welcome to the Light of Day
Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood Mogul, Louis CK, Comedian; Al Franken, Senator; Roy Moore, Senate Candidate; Kevin Spacey, Actor; James Toback, Director; Brett Ratner, Producer; Nick Carter, Singer; Charlie Rose, Broadcast Journalist; Matt Lauer, Broadcast Journalist; John Conyers, U.S. Rep; Bill O’ Reilly, Broadcast Journalist; Roger Ailes, Fox News CEO; Jeffrey Tambor, Actor; Steven Seagal, Actor; Russell Simmons, Entertainment Mogul; Tom Sizemore, Actor; Jeremy Piven, Actor; Leon Wieseltier, Literary Critic; John Lasseter; Pixar Co-Founder; Mark Halperin; Political Analyst; Garrison Keillor, Radio Personality; Israel Horovitz, Playwright; Matthew Weiner, TV Writer; Glenn Thrush, Writer; Michael Oreskes, SVP of NPR; Dustin Hoffman, Actor; Richard Dreyfuss, Actor; Roy Price, Amazon Studios Head; Sylvester Stallone, Actor; Gary Goddard, Producer; Andy Dick, Actor; Ben Affleck, Actor; Hamilton Fish, Publisher; Teddy Davis; CNN Producer; George Takei, Actor; David Sweeney, NPR Chief; Justin Huff, Broadway Casting Director; John Besh, Celebrity Chef; Bill Cosby, Comedy Mogul
The momentum of allegations hasn’t slowed, and we would be remiss to develop any definitive conclusions about a variety of topics surrounding this issue, from whether these behaviors are common in DFW workplaces to what this says about our national culture. But three things seem clear right now:
- The #MeToo movement should empower women in offices across America to report incidents of sexual misconduct and be confident that they will be taken seriously, rather than dismissed because of a power disparity between themselves and the alleged perpetrators.
- Where there is gender inequality in the workplace, or far more men in positions of power than women, there is more likely to be an implicit condoning of these behaviors.
- To create a workplace culture that expressly prohibits sexual abuse, victims must have a place to turn where they know their jobs are not in jeopardy for making an allegation of abuse.
As the story evolves, and its impact becomes clearer for everyday workplaces, we will address the implications for #MeToo in DFW. Stay tuned.