2017 Gender in the Media Retrospective: “Silent No Longer”
[CW: The video contains numerous testimonials from victims of sexual assault]
Every year, Jennifer Siebel Newsom and The Representation Project release a retrospective on gender in the media. For 2017, they chose to highlight the ways that “survivors of sexual harassment and assault seized the mic and created a sea change on how we respond to these crimes.”
“The conversation is happening on a national scale – and it’s not about how women can avoid harassment or assault,” reads the YouTube video summary, “but about how men need to change their behavior, how we can hold serial harassers accountable, and how all of us can do better by listening to women and believing their stories.”
“Open secrets came out,” said Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “We flocked to support survivors. And untouchable, serial predators like Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Louis C.K., Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey, and more finally faced consequences for their actions.”
TIME also chose to highlight the #MeToo movement, celebrating the “silence breakers” who spoke out and named their attackers as the Person of the Year 2017. “The roots of TIME’s annual franchise—singling out the person or persons who most influenced the events of the year—lie in the so-called great man theory of history,” wrote the magazine, “a phrasing that sounds particularly anachronistic at this moment. But the idea that influential, inspirational individuals shape the world could not be more apt this year … For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, The Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year.”
This has, without a doubt, been a landmark year for the naming and condemning of sexual predators. But the most pressing question is where we go from here. Breaking a culture of silence is only the first step. The next step is ensuring that there are far fewer crimes to speak out about in the future, far fewer men in power who get away with hurting multiple victims. And while there are positive signs of accountability everywhere, there are also crucial gaps. The voices of the movement so far have been predominantly white. The changes have focused on ousting individual abusers, rather than culture change. A man accused of sexually harassing or assaulting more than a dozen women is still in the White House. Clarence Thomas, accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, is still on the Supreme Court.
This video serves as a great reminder of all the brave work that’s been done this year – but it’s also a call to the work that still needs doing.
(Featured image via screengrab)
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