A survey of film and television industry professionals finds that employees still face harassment five years after being laid off #MeToo Movement. The movement was a turning point in pop culture, spurred on by two… New York Times reporters, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, who helped producer Harvey Weinstein expose the decades of sexual and psychological abuse he perpetrated against women in the industry. Ultimately, this led to Weinstein’s indictment of 11 charges of sexual assault and a 23-year prison sentence.
The #MeToo movement encouraged women and men to make accusations against others in the industry who have sexually harassed or abused them. Often the abusers were powerful enough to be protected by studios willing to cover up their behavior, settle out of court with victims, or be turned on by other systems of complicity around them, with the help of assistants and other employees to minimize or hide their actions. Many high-profile people have been called out in the wake of the movement, such as Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Armie Hammer and Bryan Singer. #MeToo was not exclusive to the film industry, however, with accusations against authors, musicians, politicians, newscasters, athletes and the President of the United States. The move has also sparked an unfortunate backlash, with controversial celebrities such as Johnny Depp mocking the rise of the “cancellation culture” and claiming that anyone can be blamed, despite the validity of the allegations.
A new survey by the advocacy group Women in Film was conducted to see how and if harassment has changed in the industry five years since #MeToo. According to THR, the survey found that 70 percent of respondents felt the culture around abuse, harassment and misconduct has “improved slightly.” Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported experiencing personal abuse or misconduct in the past five years, and 30.9 percent said misconduct or abuse happened to someone they know. The survey was conducted among current and former industry workers and responses were predominantly from women. 29 percent of respondents identified as people of color and 55 percent said they have experienced misconduct or abuse in the past five years.
Despite minor change, #MeToo is still crucial
While #MeToo reduced the careers of Kevin Spacey and a few other abusers, there are areas where harassment is still rampant, female composers claim the move has barely made a dent on their side of the industry. This does not diminish the impact that #MeToo had and still has. It opened the door for victims of abuse to step forward and believe in their words and power in their voice. In many cases, it was an important stepping stone toward shifting outdated ideas and ending decades of silence. But #MeToo was just a beginning, not an end. Women in the industry continue to be warned by their unions that reporting misconduct can hurt their careers.
It is vital that the actions and words of sexual abusers and bullies continue to be mentioned culturally, whether in Hollywood or any other industry. Making movies like She said or Barbarian continuing to draw attention to the issue could be an essential part. Actual change cannot happen overnight, and it must be worked on continuously, shifting incrementally until systems that continue to protect abusers change at fundamental levels. Whether or not the abusers should be held accountable is another matter, as their punishments are often superficial at best, but the #MeToo Movement has made it a goal worth striving for.
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