The #MeToo movement has already dominated 2017, but what will 2018 man for the movement?
Time magazine recently awarded the Silence Breakers and the#MeToo movement the award of the most influential person of 2017. After the revelations broke regarding top Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein back in October, a huge number of women came forward with allegations regarding a number of leading Hollywood actors, directors and other industry insiders.
This kind of predatory behavior has been known to exist within Hollywood for its entire existance. Regarded as what has been termed as an ‘open secret’, the glitz and glamour of the film industry has hidden this odious behavior which has never been publically exposed in this way before. Despite quite mainstream social acceptance of such terms and practices as the ‘casting couch’ as a sex fantasy, and acts of male predatory behavior onscreen, it wasn’t until 2017 that the lid finally burst open.
On the surface, the sheer scope of the disclosures already seems quite unbelievable. However, when one reads more into how Weinstein used ex-Mossad agents to help pressurize and antagonize his victims, the feeling of revulsion is overwhelming. As if the acts of sexual assault and humiliation were not enough, threats and intimidation at the hands of some very scary people AND the destruction of these poor actresses’ careers can only be described as pure evil.
To date, more than 80 women have come forward with allegations against Weinstein. Fortunately, police are said to be very close to pressing charges but the damage that he and others like him have caused, might just be unrepairable.
As more and more revelations came out, the industry found itself entering a kind of civil war. A recent public argument between Minnie Driver and Matt Damon showed just how much of a divide it has created. After Damon went on record saying that sexual misconduct by powerful men involved “a spectrum of behavior”, Driver was enraged. She composed a long and extremely frustrated reply that concluded that “if good men like Matt Damon are thinking like that then we’re in a lot of fucking trouble.”
Her insistence that “it’s all fucking wrong and it’s all bad, and until you start seeing it under one umbrella it’s not your job to compartmentalise or judge what is worse and what is not” might be somewhat misguided (for the dangers of this mentality only need to read about event during the French Revolution), but it gives crystal clear insight into just how rightly angry people are.
I use the term people for victims because in her rage Driver forgets to note that a number of the victims who have come forward are men. “Let women do the speaking up right now. The time right now is for men just to listen and not have an opinion about it for once” she said.
Kevin Spacey has so far been accused of sexually assaulting a number of men over the last few decades. It is therefore important to remember that while the perpetrators have all been men so far, a victim is no less a victim because of their gender.
So, can the #MeToo movement forces changes in 2018?
How Hollywood and society, in general, will deal with the problem of the subjugation of women and sexual harassment remains to be seen. What is clear that the industry needs a radical shift in its attitude towards women.
As if a string of other successes from Mama Mia to Enchanted weren’t enough to convince Hollywood, 2017 saw three of the highest grossing films being women-fronted films. Films such as Wonder Woman, a huge box office success, have shown that women can succeed in traditionally male-dominated roles. To put it into perspective, while the original Iron Man took over $500 million at the box office, Wonder Woman has already managed to gross $800 million.
Perhaps the debate generated from this ongoing scandal combined with the undeniable success of women at the box office might be enough to start the huge shift that needs to take place. Since Hollywood plays a major role in shaping wider social perceptions,including attitudes towards women, a good place for the industry to start would be redefining the ways women are portrayed onscreen.
Offering women more empowerment onscreen will certainly help bring about change. Not only will it have a positive effect on women but could also help drive an attitude change in men. The crisis in masculinity that is so frequently talked about is, in fact, not the driver of this problem. You only need to look at the mainstream porn industry to see how ‘ideas’ affect the masses to understand that men being unsure of how to be men is not the driver of this kind of behavior towards women (and other men).
Matt Damon is right; most men are not Harvey Weinstein. What is needed is a shift in attitudes and for those people too ignorant to change, the fear that their actions will no longer go unpunished. We must not lose sight of the fact that attitudes can be changed. They can, just as the #MeToo movement has already demonstrated.
While the civil rights movement is a clear demonstration of how it will be a never-ending battle, the ground won by African Americans to obtain the equality promised to them in the United States constitution has been enormous.
It seems almost inevitable that we may never see the end of the kind of animalistic behavior exhibited by people like Harvey Weinstein. That said, hopefully, we can see a shift that results in women everywhere feeling free to come forward about such behavior without fear of reprisals. While it might still be some way off, it would be a monumental moment in human history to see real equality for women everywhere.
Hollywood can help make this change a reality. If in 2018, we could see such progress as female actors receiving comparable pay as their male counterparts, better roles that don’t see them playing supporting roles to a male lead who is more than twice their age, not having to wear skimpy clothing, or be subjugated as they have in the past, maybe, just maybe, the foul behavior we have heard so much of in late 2017 might just become a thing of the past.
So, can the #MeToo movement change 2018? The answer is, we sincerely hope so.
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