Before this 2017-18 cycle of #MeToo, there were other high-profile incidents of sexual harassment that caused many women to share their stories. From all these episodes, there is wide-spread acknowledgement that many, many women have experienced harassment in some form and to some degree. In the past, the attention soon faded, and with it, hope that things would really change. Like so many of us, I have hoped this time it will be different. Months ago, I wrote hopefully. I remain hopeful.
I don’t mean that I am hopeful just that there will be a decrease in sexual harassment (unwanted sexual behavior by a person who has more power than his or her object). I am talking about hope for a sea change. My hope is that we are accelerating the day when women are seen and treated as equal to men – in politics, in television and Hollywood, and at all levels of the workplace.
I was in Washington D.C. for the first Women’s March and in my hometown of Denver for the second one. It was powerful to see the masses of women and men standing up for women, to read our signs, and experience our camaraderie. It was impossible not to hope that things are really moving in the right direction for gender equality. This past week, my hopes got two boosts.
Last Sunday on the morning news show Meet the Press, a panel was discussing this question, giving their opinions on whether the #MeToo movement had or would run its course – or might have permanent impact. Most thought this time it would be as in the past. But Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin had the last word. With emotion, she said she felt it was different this time and said something to the effect, “Something is happening.” I was moved. Like me, she wasn’t just talking about harassment; she was talking about larger issues affecting the roles and perceptions of women.
On Sunday night, I watched the Academy Awards. I was moved by the Academy’s apparent movement toward diversity — and by the themes of engaging in important issues, including racial and gender equality. Best Actress, Frances McDormand, had me on my feet – along with all the female nominees. Seeing so many women in important positions in the filmmaking industry was exciting. Her plea was not about unwanted advances. It was about funding women and their work. And she promoted the “inclusion rider,” which counters bias in the auditioning and casting process.
Is something happening? Might this intense focus on sexual harassment lead to greater inclusion overall? Are you hopeful? Let me know what you think!