The Ripples of the #MeToo Movement in the Industry
Thu, April 22, 2021

The Ripples of the #MeToo Movement in the Industry

The movie industry has a lot of work to do to make the environment safe for female workers on- and off-screen, but how has the industry changed since #MeToo revealed to them that things are not as good as they seem / Photo by: Talbot Troy via Flickr

 

The movie industry has a lot of work to do to make the environment safe for female workers on- and off-screen, but how has the industry changed since #MeToo revealed to them that things are not as good as they seem? 

It turns out that the #MeToo movement specifically has helped revolutionize certain areas in the industry but it’s got a long way to go before it fully changes bigger and bigger chunks of the industry. 

The #MeToo Change Within the Industry 

Since the #MeToo movement began in 2017, it has sent the message to men in high places in the industry that they will not be allowed to get away with the rampant harassment and assault that they committed, often shrouded in darkness. After years of shame and self-loathing, women are finally speaking up. 

They’re speaking up so much that “Time’s Up,” an organization dedicated to combating workplace sexual misconduct across different industries, was flooded with requests from survivors of assault across the United States. Over 1,000 women in the industry work together in Time’s Up, while the organization’s Legal Defense Fund having to deal with 3,800 requests from survivors. 

While not many of these requests seem enough to change the seedy underbelly of Hollywood and what it looks like behind the curtains, Elizabeth Tippett, a law professor from the University of Oregon, told news network CNN that what little change that #MeToo is doing behind the scenes is still very important. 

Tippett says #MeToo has managed to address “the weaknesses in the legal system and business that made the culture of sexual harassment, hush money and cover-ups possible in the first place.” Essentially, what she’s saying is that even reports of cases of sexual harassment in the industry which are technically not as explosive still help the movement. There is an overall need for the industry to fix the underlying problem of rampant harrassment many women face working in the environment. 

Since the #MeToo movement began in 2017, it has sent the message to men in high places in the industry that they will not be allowed to get away with the rampant harassment and assault that they committed, often shrouded in darkness / Photo by: Pakkin Leung via Wikimedia Commons

 

World Changes through the #MeToo Movement 

Around the world, though, the changes have been a little patchy.  

For instance, the number of rape cases from the United Kingdom since 2016 only fell by 52%, reports the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate data, despite rape reports to the police rising by 43%.

In a corresponding report by Women and Hollywood cited in an article on British news source The Guardian, in the post-#MeToo world, festivals and institutions are still “lagging behind” in efforts to level the playing field for men and women. 

The London film festival only has 65% of films directed by women, the Toronto film festival has 36%, Berlin has fewer than that, sitting at eight, and Cannes at the very end, with only four films in the roster directed by women. 

The worst offender seems to be the Venice film festival, which not only had two films directed by women out of 21 competing films, but also added a Roman Polanski film in the mix, when Polanski is known to have raped a 13-year-old girl and came out of it with a conviction to boot. According to Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, what the Venice film festival got away with doing again is the very thing that the movement is trying to fight against. 

The thing is, Silverstein said that most organizations -- like the Venice film festival -- only add women in the roster at all because they feel like after the initial groundswell of the movement, things will eventually cool down on its own. But Silverstein said that’s not the case and that they are badly misreading the situation. 

In the wider entertainment industry, the music industry seems to be a little exempted, though only by a narrow margin. More music festivals have promised that they were going to try and change the 80% male festival lineup and add in more female performers by 2022. For a tangible number, 45 events promised that they were going to champion gender parity in the festivals. 

#MeToo Movement and the Masses 

Aside from changes within the industry, it should be understood that the #MeToo movement will only be really impactful if it reaches masses in a significant way. The industry might encompass a lot of people across different racial backgrounds and experiences but it also matters how the movement is received by the rest of us. 

According to a report by entertainment site The Wrap, a CBS poll found that since the #MeToo movement, more than half of young men between the ages of 18 to 29 said that they felt the need to “rethink” how they behaved around the women around them. 

Some 36% also said that they would now talk about this with their male peers as well, and 42% said they now better understand the actions that constitute as sexual harassment. Overall, many Americans (63%) believe that the movement has helped raise awareness on the issue of sexual harassment.   

Some 36% also said that they would now talk about this with their male peers as well, and 42% said they now better understand the actions that constitute as sexual harassment / Photo by: Rob Kall via Wikimedia Commons

 

Be that as it may, there are still some naysayers whose voices about the issue are quite difficult to swallow. Sexual harassment is already a really big issue that affects so many people, women especially, but for those who feel the movement has gone too far (when it really hasn’t gone far enough), the backlash is toxic and terrifying. 

This kind of response has been the reason why a recent survey found that more men and women now feel uncomfortable “mentoring women” or even hiring “attractive women.”  

This, says professor of law and director of the Workplace Law Program at Texas A&M University, is more than a little ridiculous. For one thing, Green iterated that men and women in the workplace understand well enough what kind of actions constitute as sexual harassment--even a Harvard Business Review backs that up. 

Thanks to studies like this, together with numbers from Time’s Up showing that most women now feel heard and empowered, more women are coming forward to establish boundaries within the workplace. 

Tina Tchen, CEO of Time’s Up, said, “More women are feeling empowered and more men are feeling a responsibility to help shift problematic social norms.”