In the wake of the revelations about Harvey et al, I wonder if maybe we are finally on the cusp of female equality. I speak only for parts of the globe which are not rigidly patriarchal because there are countries where women are chattel and sold into virtual sexual slavery as child brides with no rights whatsoever.
But there appears to be a paradigm shift in places like the US and UK, where men in positions of power have been taken down as a result of sexual harassment allegations. Note “allegations” were enough to make these men toxic. All of a sudden it’s bad for business to treat women poorly. Some may say that it’s too bad that this wasn’t a moral movement but with, let’s face it, men holding most of the economic and political power, without consequences in the form of a threat to share prices, or re-election chances, or consumer boycotts, nothing would change.
It appears things are changing now. No, not fast enough. And no, not everywhere. But at least there is a public acknowledgement that sexual harassment is a disgrace. I watched Confirmation over the weekend, the HBO movie about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. It really wasn’t that long ago and yet, it feels like ancient history. If Thomas had been a US Supreme Court nominee with a credible witness like Hill making such scurrilous allegations today, there would be no way he’d be confirmed by the US Senate.
That’s not to say that such condemnation is universal. Donald Trump was elected US President despite all the allegations against him and the Access Hollywood tape. But there is reason to hope that this change will become permanent. And after 2017, hope is more than we could have anticipated.