Now & Next: A Gender For Change

Posted on 04 March 2019

#MeToo sparked a defining chapter in gender relations and its seismic reverberations have been felt across the world. From protests about rape and murder in South Africa, to the Times Up Legal Defense Fund in America, discover the latest efforts to tackle sexual harassment and push for gender equality.

A Gender For Change

We are at a historic tipping point for women.  In October 2017 the #MeToo spread across the globe.  What began as a Hollywood sexual assault scandal sparked a public reckoning around the world.

News reporter
CBC news network

Thousands of women are using two words on social media to identify themselves as survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

Politican
A watershed moment in our…

New laws have been passed and powerful men have been forced to step down.

Mark Goldring 
Chief Exectuive Officer of Oxfam

We are sorry for the damage that Oxfam has done.

Face arrest and conviction.  But now MeToo is igniting wider debates.

Oprah  Winfrey
A new day is on the horizon.

About the ability of legal systems to deliver justice.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

The problem here is our systems are not strong enough to back them.

About how men should behave around women.

Dr Jordan Peterson
Clinical Psychologist
 
We don’t know what the rules are and it turns out that there’s way more of them than you thought.

And about the battle for gender equality.

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point

First you had MeToo and now you have NowWhat.

NOW & NEXT
A GENDER FOR CHANGE

Protesters chanting 
Power to the people!  Power to the people!

Pretoria, South Africa.  Inspired by the global MeToo movement, these women are protesting about the country’s high rates of rape and femicide, the deliberate murder of women. In South Africa, the number of women killed by a partner or family member is five times higher than the global average.

Avelafay
Protest organiser

Hello… hello?  I would like to officially welcome each and every woman here.  We are here in Pretoria whether they like it or not! Power… to the people!

Avelafay is one of the organisers. Like many of the protestors, Avela has been personally affected by femicide.

Avelafay
Protest organiser

At the age of 13 I lost my mother to femicide.  She was brutally murdered in her own home, and the perpetrators are free, they’re roaming the streets.  So, not only was I failed by someone we knew as a family, but we were failed by the justice system.

Here, even a recent President, Jacob Zuma, has been accused of rape.  The charges were dropped in Court in 2006. But sexual and physical violence have continued to afflict all levels of society.

Protesters chanting
No means no, no means no -

Today the protestors are marching on the parliament and have demanded a hearing with the current President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Avelafay
Protest organiser

We shut the country down!

But at the parliament buildings…

Avelafay
Protest organiser

Where is Cyril; we all want to know.

…it’s soon clear the president will not be meeting them.

Protester
We wrote numerous letters to the office of the president requesting their presence today.  They decided to snub us… right?  So if they decide to snub us, we will show them hell!

The president’s no show is little surprise.  In this country the police reported a 7.4% increase in all crimes against women in the last year alone. But for the protestors, today has still been an important step in raising public awareness.

Avelafay
Protest organiser

Because of the society we live in it takes courage for a woman to stand up and say hey enough is enough.  We all deserve a round of applause.

In Johannesburg, Gigi White runs the charity, Get Up Women. She helps victims of sexual violence whose cases have been dropped by the police.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

We’re off to go and meet two ladies who have allegedly been raped by their boss.

Nearly half of all rape cases reported to South African police do not result in an arrest.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

Okay so before we start -

These two women allege their boss sexually assaulted them at work.

– We have got everybody and everything it’s going to take to keep you guys safe.

Gigi has come with her colleagues Sean and Dave to take statements from them.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​
 
So he just wants to ask a couple of questions.  We have to do this properly.

Sean
Start at the beginning…

Sean’s role is to pass evidence to the police and pressure them to investigate the case properly.

Survivor 1
One evening I was working late and he told me to come sit beside him.  He put this weird music on and um…

Sean 
It’s fine, take your time.  Take your time.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​
  
Scooch up, scooch up.  Come here my dear, come here.  We’re going to fight this, okay?


[Sobbing from Survivor 1]

Sean
Who did you give the statements to?  Did you go to the cops?

Survivor 1
Yes.

Sean
Okay and where did the case go from there?

Survivor 1
They said they would take it to Court, but they never did.

Sean
When was this?

Survivor 2
It was 2016.

Sean
2016?

Survivor 2
Yes.

The women suspect their boss bribed the police to drop the investigation.

Survivor 2
He knows a lot of people.

Sean
He doesn’t know enough people, trust me.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​
 
He’s gonna need to know a lot more after this one.

Sean
It’s time to face justice, okay?

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

And we will go through the whole entire thing with you.  Every case, every Court appearance we will be there.  You will not do this alone.

Survivor 2
Thank you very much.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

 I think this is gonna be a lot uglier and a lot bigger than what we first thought.

As a third woman has now said she was assaulted by the same boss, Gigi hopes the police can be pushed to re-open this case.  But things could hit a familiar brick wall.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

One of the biggest issues that we have are the cops.  Everybody’s prepared to take a bribe.

The number of women asking Gigi for help has increased since MeToo.  Yet she’s worried there will be no lasting impact in South Africa unless there are more prosecutions.

Gigi White
Founder of Get Up Women​

We have this huge, big movement that started.  Women are getting out, they’re telling people exactly what happened and how it happened and the problem here is our systems are not strong enough to back them.  If we don’t start getting the prosecution done and getting these women justice, we’re just gonna end up sliding backwards.

In America the MeToo movement is starting to have an impact on the justice system.

Oprah Winfrey
 A new day is on the horizon!

Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal over 300 public figures have donated millions of dollars to the Time’s Up legal defence fund.

Sienna Miller
Actress

Women have united to claim that Time Is Up.

At these small unassuming headquarters in Washington, DC, giant steps are being taken.

Activist
Time’s Up legal defence fund​

We’ve got farm workers, retail, hotel workers, nail salons, poultry workers -

American women can apply to the fund for free legal support, if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted at work.  So far there have been over 3,500 applications. Mainly from women in low wage industries.

Noah
Could I get your first and last name –

It’s up to interns like Noah to field the rising number of calls.

Noah
These are the list intakes that we’re gonna be sending attorneys to. We have it listed as you know, workplace sexual harassment and other workplace sex discrimination.  There is probably at least 30 or 40 here, just for today.

Some of the claims stretch back decades.

Noah
The most memorable case I had to deal with was a woman in the military.  She was sexually harassed by her superiors, by the people around her and it kind of destroyed her life.  She told me, “you’re the first person I ever told this to.”

Applications vetted here in Washington, DC are passed through a network of 700 lawyers working across 48 states.  The fund has already filed claims against McDonald’s, the U.S. Postal Service and Walmart. They hope this will prompt other major organisations to change their own rules about sexual harassment.

Fatima Gross Graves
Co- Founder, Times Up Legal Defense Fund
 
Employers have an opportunity to lead right now. They don’t actually need to wait for new laws to pass.  They can right now, today, decide that they’re gonna put this issue at the centre of their organisation.

MeToo has prompted some companies in the West to introduce new measures to deal with sexual harassment. But it has also provoked an all too predictable backlash.

Christina Hoff Sommers
AEI Resident Scholar

I’ve seen signs of kind of panic around sexuality and particularly a tendency to vilify all men.

Piers Morgan
People are not actually going through any Court process –

Interviewee on ITV news, women fighting back against MeToo
We’re risking a kind of social media lynching.

Some of the backlash is being fuelled by the anxieties of men forced  to think about their behaviour in ways they never had to before.

Dr Jordan Peterson
Clinical Psychologist
 
Well everyone always feels uncomfortable when they don’t know what the rules are and now we don’t know what the rules are and it turns out that there’s way more of them than you thought and that the punishment for transgressing against them is way higher than you could have imagined.

Clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson is known for his controversial and extremely divisive views on gender.

Interviewer
You agree that it’s unfair.  If you’re a woman –

Dr Jordan Peterson
Clinical Psychologist
 
Not necessarily.

He’s one of the most vocal critics of MeToo and its impact.

Dr Jordan Peterson
Clinical Psychologist
 
The whole purpose in some sense of the MeToo movement is to make men much more nervous about any manifestation of any behaviour that’s vaguely sexual under any circumstances whatsoever that are professional.  What’s starting to bend and distort company policy NBC prohibits hugging and Netflix doesn’t allow you to look at anyone for more than five seconds. Now really?  That’s supposed to be a solution?  Who thought that through?  It’s the suspicion of men, I would think as men per say that’s… clearly not in anyone’s interest at all.

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer​/ Lean In Founder 

So I don’t wanna shock anyone, I really don’t but the world is still run by men and I’m just not sure it’s going that well.

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg is a leading supporter of MeToo. Even she is worried that some of the reverberations could prove counterproductive.

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer​/ Lean In Founder

I think MeToo is an opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to get rid of behaviour that never should have happened in the first place. But we want to make sure this doesn’t have negative consequences.

Sandberg is a prominent advocate for gender equality in business and the founder of the women’s empowerment foundation, Lean In. In early 2018, a survey conducted by Lean In found that MeToo has had an adverse effect on gender relations.

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer​/ Lean In Founder

You have senior managers who are male are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a dinner with a female junior colleague and almost half of male managers are nervous about having a one-on-one meeting with a junior woman.  You can’t do work if you can’t have a one-on-one meeting.  My view is, everyone should be able to work together, have one-on-one meetings and behave appropriately.  But at a very minimum make access equal.  If you don’t feel comfortable having dinner with women don’t have dinner with men.

In New York, one pioneering company  has come up with an innovative solution to improve relations between sexes in the workplace.

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point

There we go. That one is all set up.

Morgan Mercer is the founder of Vantage Point.  Her company is exploiting the power of virtual reality to train men to see the world through women’s eyes.

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point

Research shows that most men don’t actually have a mental framework to reference.  So most men quite literally do not understand what sexual harassment feels like.

Today a team from customer analytics firm, Castora, will be exposed to sexual harassment scenarios based on real life case studies.

[Male boss in sexual harassment scenario]
“Great, great, great, this is gonna be a great year.  Rachel, really important now to remember it’s a party so pack something fitting.”

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point

 A lot of times with sexual harassment it’s the build-up, you know the body language and the feeling of the elephant in the room.

[Female employee in sexual harassment scenario]
“I just, I honestly don’t know if I wanna go anymore.”

[Male employee in sexual harassment scenario]
“What do you mean we’ve been working on this for months.”

[Male employee in sexual harassment scenario]
“And what about all the after parties.”

[Female employee in sexual harassment scenario]
“Well honestly Luke, that’s part of it.  James was texting me all night asking me what I’m gonna wear.”

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point
 
So what did you guys think of it?

Member of Castora 1
I was like shocked at how real it actually felt.

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point
 
Yeah. 

Member of Castora 2
When they're looking at you

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point
 
Yeah.

Member of Castora 1
They look at you and it just like, the whole like how quickly a seemingly non-harmful conversation about going out as a team or something or like having fun as a team can turn into like awkwardness and harassment.

Member of Castora 3
Like it feels it could be here. Like that bench they have, I’ve seen it in a million start-up offices.

Member of Castora 2
A man was sitting too close to a woman and it was right next to me, right. So I felt pretty uncomfortable and also her reactions to some of the comments. You could pick up on some of those cues. So the discussions that have taken place in this past year especially, I think people are innovating in ways to facilitate better conversations, like using technology. Stuff like this is incredibly important.

Large companies, including Google and Price Waterhouse Coopers have expressed interest in using this VR technology to train their workforces, as has the US Congress.  It all points to an important shift.

Morgan Mercer
Founder of Vantage Point
  
I think that we are at a pivotal point in society where women’s roles are being questioned. We have fought for rights and now we’re fighting for equality in the workplace.

The fallout from MeToo has prompted some men in Western countries to question traditional notions of masculinity and what it means to be a man in society today.  In Britain former film maker, David Fuller, recently founded an alternative men’s collective focussed on challenging conventional forms of male behaviour.

David Fuller
Founder of Rebel Wisdom

Thanks for coming and can you come in a little bit.  Let’s make it a little bit more cosy.  Men are being challenged culturally right now and I think the right response to that is to up our game.

At an arts festival in Southern England, David is running a work shop promoting what he sees as the solution to the issues raised by MeToo.

David Fuller
Founder of Rebel Wisdom

Gender is a really hot topic right now and a lot of the things that we’re seeing out there and a lot of the anger that is being felt, I think is towards men who are not really showing up.  To me the solution to the times is not to sort of shame masculinity.  It’s to really refine healthy masculinity.

David believes the key to this is teaching men to be more open and communicative about their feelings.

David Fuller
Founder of Rebel Wisdom

So this whole process that we’re going through it’s about how we hold ourselves back.

The argument goes, if more men improve their emotional intelligence, relations with women will improve and this will result in greater harmony between the sexes.

Man 1
I always compare myself to my peers, my friends –

Man 2
You know I want to be responsible but of course what that means is you sacrifice a lot of things in the present because you are always trying to make sure the future is gonna be okay.

David Fuller
Founder of Rebel Wisdom

I am always amazed at how quickly men open up in our workshops.

Man 3
In society we are supposed to be a bit sort of tougher and that kind of stuff. So to kind of to be able to let that go and just be able to be ourselves felt in a safe environment to be however you wanted it to be and not you being judged.

It could be some time before fringe groups like this make any real noise in mainstream society. But gender roles and gender relations are being questioned more than ever before in the wake of MeToo.

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer​/ Lean In Founder

MeToo started as a conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace. But really it sheds light on that problem and an underlying fundamental problem. The lack of power that women have historically had.

This global movement has helped expose a flaw at the heart of all societies and unleash powerful forces for change that might just kick-start efforts to fix it.

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