Hollywood glamour has brought some influential publicity to the #MeToo cause – something that is necessary for getting the voices of ordinary people heard. Yet, in retaliation to the Golden Globes, questions have arisen as to whether the celebrity sympathy is too little, too late.
Take for example the recent article of Piers Morgan, calling the celebrity endorsers “sanctimonious hypocrites” and adopting a quite frankly patronizing tone to condemn the women who stood by whilst Weinstein was allowed to lord over Hollywood. Similarly, Germaine Greer has accused the women of the movement as “whingeing”. The open letter from Bridgette Bardot declares that women who tease to get the job they want have no right to complain.
But, this completely misses the broader context of the #MeToo movement. The point is, women should not have to flirt, sleep around or put up with sexual harassment in any form of work – the fact that they are forced into a situation where the only way to earn a paycheck is to wear a low-cut top is demonstrative of just why this campaign is needed.
This movement is bigger than Hollywood. It is bigger than Downing Street. It is even bigger than the Whitehouse. Why? Because it is global. The women who marched across America this month did not do so because they fancied a walk. The hashtag hasn’t gone viral because women are trying to demonize men. Oprah’s Golden Globes speech doesn’t have 8.7 million views on YouTube because people wanted something to watch during their lunch break.
Women are marching, people are campaigning, and celebrities are shouting because one in six American women will be raped in their lifetime. Because there are 15 million girls married as child brides every year. Because in some African nations over 50% of girls aren’t granted access to education. Because, despite generations of fighting, according to the World Economic Forum, it will still take 100 years for the gender pay gap to close.
I don’t believe in man-hating. I don’t believe in self-pity. I don’t believe in public condemnation before allegations are proven. But what I do believe is that women everywhere have had enough. This movement has highlighted the horrific abuse of powerful men and has hopefully stopped the hidden nature of their crimes from continuing. But it must go further. The backlash of this campaign should not be to criticise the women who capitalize on this opportunity to let their grievances be heard.
The result of this movement should be to bring gender equality to all, whether in the audition rooms of Hollywood or in the classrooms of Chad. A spark has been lit that will go on to set-alight the sexism that has been allowed to reign for so long and burn down the male-dominated structures that have silenced so many women.
This year will mark the 100-year anniversary of the women’s right to vote in the UK and yet the fight for equality is a long way from being won. It is at times like these that we all must choose which side of history we want to be on and what sort of life we want for the girls of the next generation.