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How effective was #metoo?

by Kristina Livingston - Executive Editor
Tue, Apr 3rd 2018 09:00 pm

It has now been five months since the public finally caught wind of major allegations against the creator of the film empire Weinstein Bros., Harvey Weinstein, which synced up with the ongoing popularization of a simple hashtag: “#MeToo.”

People – an overwhelming majority of them being women –have been speaking out about unhealthy imbalances of power in the workplace which results in instances of sexual harassment or assault. Yet, it was this fast-paced online trend which gave women the chance to be seen and heard, and for many, for the first time, listened to. What, then, has been the long-term result of this massive call for a 180 degree change in the entitlement to a woman’s time, attention and body?

Unfortunately, as much as I and many others enjoy watching powerful, vile men get what they’re owed, with careers crumbling left and right, men are still going to take advantage of their power regardless of whether or not names much bigger than their own have been caught and tainted. And just a fair-warning: there have been no clear results upon which anyone has been able to agree.

“We can’t fire our way out of this problem,” said sexual harassment workshop organizer Paula Bratner, according to The New York Times. 

Despite the fact that some companies have put into place training programs and workshops aplenty, I would hope that the #MeToo movement has inspired a wave of cultural change centered around self-awareness; am I making someone uncomfortable? What does it mean if this person’s behavior is putting me so on-edge when they have only communicated good, pleasant intentions? These reflections should be at the forefront of one’s mind. An equally looming problem, one that has plagued women for decades, is company response to issues of harassment. While there have certainly been highly public instances of men being violated by women, all too often the response that I see is always along the lines of, “where is the outcry? If this were a woman, everyone would be up in arms, standing beside her!”

You and I know perfectly well that ain’t true, pal. You can support male victims without acting like female victims are paraded around with victory sashes. 

On one hand, according to billboard.com, MTV conducted extensive research back in January, surveying young people ages 18-25 about topics related to the heavily publicized movement. As with all surveys touted as being drastically relevant but conducted by a music broadcasting company, the specific amount of respondents has not been released, but, “According to the results, nearly 1 in 3 young men were concerned that something they had done in the past could be considered sexual harassment. Forty percent of the young men admitted that #MeToo had changed the way they act in potential romantic relationships. And 1 in 4 of the young people surveyed said they’ve noticed guys around them change their behavior since the #MeToo movement began.”

Again, unsure of how promising these statistics are, but hearing young men recounting and reassessing toxic behavior of their past is a better outcome than the other popular one I’ve encountered – snide little jokes between “bros.” Don’t look at her the wrong way, Jeremy. Might be considered sexual harassment now. “Guffaw guffaw”, let me pull up my basketball shorts.

Back to the point, though –with these pushes for workplace support, do women feel any different at work in regard to the behavior of their coworkers? Are workplace environments changing? How do we even begin to analyze this?

Well, for one thing, let’s look at how corporations are treating this issue while scrambling to make anti-harassment workshops mandatory.

According to The New York Times, “Harassment is now considered not just a legal liability, but also a serious reputational and business risk. Executives and boards are beginning to look at harassment the ‘same way you think about other risks to your organization’ like security or hacking.”

No one can deny or change the fact that our world works in a business-oriented, capitalistic way, but this right here may be one of the biggest challenges facing women who are observing a complete lack of change in the workplace. But still, to be confronted with the fact that workplaces must place more value on 

firing an accused abuser sends a message – this behavior will not be tolerated here. But if it isn’t tolerated because it makes your company decrease in value rather than for the sake of your employees, can we possibly move in the right direction?

Big executives should take a note from all those 18-year-old boys who prioritize changing behavior. And then maybe, just maybe, the results of this movement will be crystal clear in our daily lives, and we won’t have to seek out newspaper articles to try to find out if anything happened at all.



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