The #metoo movement has been gaining momentum for a while now. Mainly an online movement, #metoo has meant women from all over the world sharing their experiences with sexul assault, in order to destigmatise and bring awareness to just how many women have experienced it at some point in their lives. The #metoo movement has a big focus on sexual assualt within the workplace, with men in positions of power using this against women in lower positions. The movement started to make waves after the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein were made public.
The clip above, which is from the BBC show Business matters is a brief interview with journalist Shiori Ito, the first woman in Japan to publically accuse a high profile journalist of sexual misconduct. Ito was lead to believe that she would be given career progressing opportunities by meeting with the famous journalist, but instead he raped her. A huge issue with sexual misconduct, especially in a work based relationship is that many people would be afraid to speak out against what happened to them, through fear that they would never be able to find work again after doing so. This is a big reason why the #metoo movement has been so successful, as it has shown solidarity between women to not put up with this kind of abuse day in day out.
Although I can pick flaws in the movement, the tidal wave of discussion it has caused is so important and long overdue. Even in a developed western society I can still expect unwanted advances from male collegues and feel like I can’t report it as it will make working with that person uncomfortable, or I could lose my job. I admire the bravery of every woman who has come forward but especially Shiori Ito, as initially coming out with the accusation must have made her feel incredibly isolated in her own country. It’s great that as a result of speaking up, Japan are now ammending their rape laws after 110 years.
It’s up to businesses to start taking sexual abuse allegations seriously, and set up a better way for people to be able to report it. In a past job of mine, there was a manager who was well known to make his female collegues incredibly uncomfortable. When I questioned why over the years, no one has formally reported him, I was told that the process would be too traumatic. This company that I worked for had a policy that if you reported another member of staff for something, you would then be made to have a meeting with this collegue, mediated by a manager to discuss your issues between you. The worst part about the whole situation was that the other managers knew how innapropriate this member of staff could be and they did nothing about it.
As businesses will have no legal obligation to improve things, the government will need to step in and introduce tighter laws. In the mean time, movements like #metoo may be enough to pressure companies to take sexual abuse more seriously. Ethical consumerism is on the rise and if a company has a bad reputation for an issue such as this, it may be bad for sales. As long as we keep up this discussion, change might really happen.