As the sexual misconduct scandals continue to unfold, our gender editor, Jessica Bennett, is providing updates and analysis on the coverage and conversation in a new newsletter. Sign up HERE to receive future installments, and tell us what you think at email@example.com.
When Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as “Person of the Year” this week, it felt like women everywhere let out a collective cheer. It was a gesture that, for many, crystallized the #MeToo moment: For perhaps in the first time in history, bad-behaving men face swift consequences and women’s testimonies are instinctively believed.
And yet the paradox of those Silence Breakers is that, in many cases, those women were not silent at all. It was that nobody heard them when they spoke.
That distinction is critical as many of us reckon with what happens now. The #MeToo Moment has opened the floodgates to allow thousands of women — and some men — to speak up and share their stories.
It has prompted a massive conversation about the silent enablers who allowed such abuse to happen, as documented in a blockbuster piece this week by my colleagues (more on that below). But it has also prompted a kind of internal questioning: Why didn’t we hear them sooner?
I missed a tiny detail of that Time cover on first glance: The image shows the arm of a woman, cropped out at the shoulder. At first I thought it was an editing error, but later (thanks, Twitter) I realized that faceless body was symbolic: a nod to the women, and one specific woman, who still cannot make their faces known.
And there are plenty of them. Thomas Chatterton Williams wrote this Opinion piece noting that there are many, many women — many of them working class, many of them women of color — whose #metoo stories we haven’t heard.
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But it feels like something is shifting — beginning with the fact that the Time cover was conceived, edited, reported and designed by women.
It turns out that a whole lot of women are filling slots vacated by alleged abusers. Robin Wright will now lead “House of Cards,” replacing Kevin Spacey. Christiane Amanpour has been named interim replacement for Charlie Rose on PBS. There are reports that Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is may be replacing Senator Al Franken, who has said he will resign.
Which raises the question: As more women step up into these high-profile roles, will women’s voices continue to be heard? To what extent will women at the wheel change the way we report, reflect, convey and ultimately ingest culture?
The Complicity Machine Has Cracked
It delves into the vast web of Harvey Weinstein enablers: the agents who ignored complaints and continued to set up meetings; the lawyers who wrote nondisclosure agreements and settlement offers; the journalists who fed information; and even the junior staffers, who were forced to compile internal “bibles” about how to best facilitate his encounters and procure his penile injection shots (yup, Mr. Weinstein was impotent).
Just read it. And check out this video of Ms. Twohey, Ms. Kantor and Ms. Dominus discussing the story with Ashley Judd at the recent TimesTalk event in Los Angeles.
In the dominos-continue-to-fall category: The editor of the Paris Review has resigned. Former congressman Harold Ford Jr. was fired by Morgan Stanley. And there are new allegations at WNYC, the public radio station based in New York City, as well.
Oh, and ICYMI: “Complicit” was named the 2017 word of the year by Dictionary.com.