We are living in empowering times! Since its battle cry rang out on social media in October 2017, the hashtag #MeToo has empowered millions to take back their personal and professional lives, sharing real stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Following last year’s high profile downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein amid a firestorm of sexual allegations, women in all industries from media to entertainment, education to politics, and technology to the culinary arts are finally supporting each other, speaking up and making a difference in the inequalities and injustices of the workplace.
Everyone is weighing in on this hot topic, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a recent CNN interview, she stated she thinks the #MeToo movement is a good thing, but is worried. “Let’s not turn women into snowflakes. Let’s not infantilize women.” Rice doesn’t want us “to get to a place that men start to think, ‘Well, maybe it’s just better not to have women around.’ I’ve heard a little bit of that. And it, it worries me,” she said. When asked about her own personal experiences, Rice answered, ”I’ve never had anyone do anything that I would consider assault. But I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t had somebody say or do something that was inappropriate at best and aggressive at worst.”
The entertainment industry is still rocking from recent allegations and accusations against directors, producers, actors, comedians, and newscasters alike. Pay parity also still remains an issue in Hollywood as in the rest of the world. Recently actor Mark Wahlberg decided to show his support by putting his money where his mouth is. After discovering his film co-star Michelle Williams earned a tiny fraction of his salary on reshoots for the “All The Money In The World,” he donated $1.5 million in her name to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Time’s Up, started with $13 million in donations for its legal fund, aims to lobby for legislation that creates financial consequences for companies that regularly tolerate harassment without action.
Fear and ignorance are no longer an acceptable standard for behavior in the workplace or society in general. Educational institutions are getting onboard as well. The New York Times reports that “an M.B.A. education is no longer just about marketing, accounting, and economics. As topics like sexual harassment dominate the national conversation and chief executives weigh in on the ethical and social issues of the day, business schools around the country are hastily reshaping their curriculums with case studies ripped straight from the headlines.” At Stanford, they are studying sexual harassment in the workplace, while Harvard students are debating sexism and free speech. Studying psychological research, Stanford students found that more people are willing to challenge the powers that be if another person joins them. Hence, the popularity of #MeToo.
Social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke first created the phrase “Me Too” on MySpace in a 2006 campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who experienced sexual abuse. The phrase was then popularized by actress Alyssa Milano when she encouraged women to tweet it to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Millions spoke up! So there really is power in numbers!
Time Magazine recognized “the Silence Breakers” as its “person” of the year. Oprah Winfrey summed up the impact of these whistleblowers recently in a moving speech at “The Golden Globes,” which even encouraged rally cries for her possible future presidential candidacy. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up … So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women … and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
Wanting a better life and literally “fighting” hard for it brings us to a kick-ass film pick this week, “Bare Knuckles,” starring stuntwoman/actress Jeannette Roxborough. Based on an inspiring true story, the film follows single mom, Samantha Rogers, a stuntwoman by day and cocktail waitress by night in a rowdy, dank club. Samantha is struggling to make ends meet for her and her disabled young daughter, Milla. Facing sleazy customers and a dead-end future, she is forced to use some deft fighting skills to stop a two-woman drunken bar fight, only to be recognized by a down and out fight promoter. Martin Kove plays Sonny Cool, the fight manager, who offers Samantha a chance at “the show.” He invites her to train for the underground, illegal bare knuckles all female fight circuit where brutality and elegance mix with high stakes and deception.
If you’re looking for an empowering female lead, who thrives on strength and determination and who won’t be saying #MeToo, then check out 2013’s “Bare Knuckles” on MovieZoot.com here.
by Lori Perkins
by Julie Still-Rolin