It’s a challenge to turn on the news, read a paper, or get a notification on an app without getting a report about another woman coming forward about an accused abuser. I say accused because the justice system in place is innocent until proven guilty and none of these have gone to court yet, so we are dealing with accusations. I want to set that straight, as I am not calling anything an accusation because I don’t believe it, but that would just be the correct terminology. There is a clear feeling of women empowerment, a sense of women feeling more confident and taking control. With the USA having a women’s march in January with record marchers, there is something happening in this latest women’s movement and that is very evident. However, we are here to talk about both sides, of what this movement is bringing to the forefront, and the impact it’s having in the world right now.
Where did it all began?
Trying to pick the exact start point, some might point a finger to the things that now President Trump was caught saying on tape during the election, or the women that came forward about him during the election. However, he was still elected, so that does say something about the American people and the weight that they put on that. More people would point to the moment that Rose McGowan came forward about Harvey Weinstein and his assault on her. That is where the real snowball started rolling down the hill, as this is the point when many other famous women started to come forward with the same accusations against Weinstein. The list of women who have come out against Weinstein is very long and includes some of the most well known actresses out there. It seems almost daily someone else is coming forward about some famous, successful, well-known male being accused of assaulting a woman.
It would be easy to say that it’s because of famous women that have come forward that this movement has started. Celebrities aren’t the key, if they were then it would have began in 2014 when Kesha came out against her produce in a lawsuit for physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual assault. While she did have support from celebrities like Adele and Taylor Swift, it didn’t lead to the outcry of women standing up that has happened in recent months.
Where are we now?
Over the past few months the list of people who have been accused of assault on both men and women is rather large and has had some major consequences. Matt Lauer was immediately let go from NBC after a women came forward about being assaulted by him in the workplace. She was followed by others with claims as well. Most of the NBC team seemed very surprised, but we will never really know what happened behind the scenes. House of Cards on Netflix will never be the same without Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, as he was immediately released by Netflix when his accusers came forward. When the tapes of Trump and Billy Bush were released, Bush was let go from his position. Charlie Rose, Mark Halpern, and Glenn Thrush have all lost their jobs. Others like Ben Affleck catching heat for not speaking up or doing something sooner.
Then we have another large group of actors, celebrities, and comedians being accused of assault including but not limited to Jeremy Piven, Scott Baio, Brett Ratner, Aziz Ansari, and James Franco. Some of the account seems to be dates gone horribly wrong, a miss read, or possible an abuse of power. One thing is very clear, the numbers of women coming forward with their claims of what has happened are staggering and continue to grow daily.
It is great that so many women are finding their voice and letting someone know they were not comfortable in a certain situation. They are also allowing for other women to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and that they are not alone. These are valuable things for many women to know and understand. But what is the result?
What is Happening Now?
There have been a lot of results from this movement in the aftermath of women speaking out against the men that have assaulted them. It has already been mentioned the amount of men who have lost their jobs, been removed from a project or movie didn’t come out at the last minute as a results. However, the more interesting this is what has been happening in society as a result, what do men have to say about it, and have their actions changed at all?
It does seem that most men aren’t really sure what to do, or say, and more importantly what not to do or day. Women, have once again left men confused, which some might argue is what women do best. It does seem that women and men need to be open to having a conversation and dialogue not an argument.
In Australia right now, Universities have classes to teach students about consent and making it very clear that nothing is to happen without both parties clearly expressing consent in the matter. As this is being discussed in the news, some were left feeling that its patronizing the students as this something that should be covered in elementary school. Others saying that this is smart on the Universities part so that everyone can see very clearly that they are doing their part to stop behavior that isn’t welcomed. Two very different views on what is now happening and if it makes sense or not.
The other side of this is the inequality of men making more than women in the workplace, which has become a large part of this moment but somewhat overshadowed by all the assault. Recently when Mark Wahlberg found out about the wage disparagement between him and his female co-star, he decided to donate the earning from that project to the Times Up movement under her name. The reported difference was that she was earning only 10% of what he was, according to online sources. That is a big difference, and he decided to do something about it. We also have women leaving their jobs when finding out they aren’t being paid equally. That is what Catt Sadler formerly of E! did when she found out her longtime friend and co-worker, who was male, was making about double what she was. According to her own personal blog they were doing about the same amount of work, and brought the same level of experience to the table which should mean around the same pay for their work. When it came time to renew her contract she countered for higher wages close to her male co-worker and was denied.
Right now there are some business men that aren’t sure what they should do and what they shouldn’t do in the workplace. From the men that I know professionally, and work with on a daily basis there is a distinct change. Having the choice between hiring a man and a woman, a male manager is feeling more comfortable hiring a man. Business meetings are now involving more people as a single meeting between a man and a woman behind closed doors is leaving the men feeling a little uncomfortable.
In a recent article in the NY Post, a female who runs a lobbyist firm was discussing how she going to meet with different politicians and business men, and they will now all ask their aid, assistant, or colleague to be in the meeting as well. When she asked some of them why they were doing this, one of them responded, “When the door closes, it becomes he said she said, and I am ensuring that can never happen so I won’t take any meetings with the opposite sex alone for my own protection.” While this position makes absolute sense, from a protection of your brand standpoint, it’s going to end up hurting women in business long term if this is how a lot of men feel.
Anyone that has ever been in a business meeting knows there is a difference when you are meeting with someone one on one, and when there are multiple people present. People become more political, aren’t always as direct, or say what is on their mind because they become more aware of everyone else in the room. So what will be the impact of this long term? Are men going to want to work less with women, setting the female equality in the workplace back decades? There is still a very long way to go as women still only account for 4.2% of CEO’s and 19.2% of the Board Members of the S&P 500 companies according to Harvard Business Schools research done in September 2017. The question stands then, is this going to help women push forward, or make us take some steps backwards.
As much as the business and professional relationship is important, there is also the personal relationship between men and women. How has that dynamic been impacted or has it?
It is interesting to be discussing this in February, the month of Valentines day, and maybe more importantly the month that for the 3rd year, Fifty Shades of Grey movie has been released. This book became a hit among women who were rapidly telling their friends they needed to read it, but also not sure if they would feel comfortable reading it in public. The movies and story are about a male who is an “dominate” and his leading lady who is a “submissive” in the relationship. Now their relationship evolves, but the baseline plays to the gender roles and the confusion that you find when it comes to the “bedroom” relationship, the male is in the take charge role.
So now we are at a bit of a crossroads when women are coming forward saying this is what happened at the time and I wasn’t comfortable with it, but maybe didn’t say anything in the moment for one reason or another. At the same time we obsess over the movies, books, and TV shows where women want a dominant leading man. So the men of the world are yet again left to be confused.
For couples that have been and are currently in long term relationships, there isn’t much expectation on a change in dynamic or at least one would hope that they are at least in a position where open communication is accepted. On the other side of the coin, we are now left with all the people who are single looking for a relationship, what do they do in these confusing times.
Are men still expected to make the first move? How is it viewed if a woman makes the move? Will men start to say that they are assaulted by women if they make the move and read the signs wrong… these are questions that we don’t have the answers to at this point, but there are changes being made and men and women are starting to act differently.
There isn’t a right or wrong here, but there are without a doubt a lot of different reactions and results that are coming from this. One thing is for certain, if an open line of communication from both sides isn’t formed to discuss what is acceptable and what isn’t, things are only going to get worse. No one can change or adapt when they aren’t sure what is expected of them and what their place is in a situation. If that doesn’t happen continued chaos and misunderstandings are going to continue to take place.