Screams turned into silence. It was a profound and systemic problem. Women’s lives were being ruined. Nonetheless, silence. And then the Harvey Weinstein controversy broke open a cultural sea change in the public perception toward sexual abuse. USA Today survey reports that 94% of women in Hollywood have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault during their careers in film. According to the same survey, 21% have been forced to do something sexual at least once. Yet only one in four of these women reported these experiences to anyone for fear of personal or professional retaliation. Social media in part has changed all this.
While we must not overlook the heroic and courageous early voices of actresses Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek, we must be also grateful for the emergence of hashtag activism: #MeToo. Today studio heads are rolling and ethical conduct statements are being written and enforced. Those who curate the social imagination have taken control of this narrative in ways that suggest that real change is possible. The code of silence has been broken and the ubiquitous good-old-boys clubs have been exposed. The public is now siding with disclosure not denial.