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Jan 29 2018
by Lily Brickman

What #MeToo Taught Me

By Lily Brickman - Jan 29 2018
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Charlie Rose. Jonathan Schwartz. Leonard Lopate. Within weeks of each other, all three men were fired from their jobs, removed from public television and off the air.

I grew up listening to WNYC and watching Thirteen. I began to appreciate intellectually stimulating and engaging podcasts and the NewsHour. But I never loved the way Charlie Rose conducted interviews; it seemed as if he sometimes made himself the interviewee instead of the interviewer, inserting himself at inappropriate times and overcompensating for superficial questions. In a similar fashion, Jonathan Schwartz was not my preferred weekend radio host– his strangely elongated pauses and overly mellow aura gave me just enough time to realize I’d rather be doing something else.

But what struck me the most when I found out these three men were leaving was how shocked I was. After the series of allegations began to trickle in last October, I have to admit I became somewhat immune to the New York Times notifications popping up on my phone of yet another powerful male abusing his status. I still read the articles and empathized with the women, I just became less surprised.

But the absence of these three men struck me the most because before that moment, it felt like I would be listening to them forever. Although my opinions about Lopate are not as strong as those for the other two, their voices became so normal and their styles so specific. But what I realized afterwards was that I, along with the millions of other WNYC-listeners and Thirteen-watchers, was watching change happen. Their time was up.

Although the #MeToo movement is just the tip of the iceberg, it stretches from Hollywood to churches, from inappropriate touching to rape. It is solidarity for women who once felt and may still feel alone and it is an attempt at a dismissal of such behavior as normal. What must be utterly frightening, and rightfully so, for the men that have committed such crimes is the voice given to their once-voiceless victims. It is women coming out of the shadows when men thought their misconduct was hidden, underground and in the past. And it is teaching men, young and old, that it doesn’t matter if decades have passed.

Charlie Rose’s interim replacement, Christiane Amanpour, is what my dad and I call “a breath of fresh air” on the channel. Amanpour asks the right questions, digs deep and articulates her thoughts. She doesn’t interrupt and recognizes the value in genuine questioning and conversation, and I find she is far more emotionally intelligent.

There will probably always be men who sexually abuse, although we can and will strive for a world free of it. But what #MeToo has shown the media industry, and many other industries in that case, is that it will not be tolerated; change will occur and abusers can be removed from their positions of power.

It also taught me that there is, truly, power in numbers. After hundreds of thousands of women began retweeting the hashtag, people came forth with their stories every day. It was almost contagious, inspiring. The individual victories of the women finally sharing their stories led to more widespread victories in the form of tangible and institutional change. 

But perhaps one of the most powerful byproducts of #MeToo is that it is demanding more from men. They have been increasingly vocal under the hashtags #IWillSpeakUp and #SupportSurvivors. No, we are not asking them to apologize on behalf of 50 percent of the world’s population. But we are asking them to engage in such conversations and recognize their privilege. If women can and are forced to revisit traumatic experiences to speak up, they can do more than watch.

#MeToo taught me that you can be a good journalist but a bad person, and ultimately, the latter will prevail. 

Lead Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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Lily Brickman - University of Southern California

Lily Brickman is a freshman at the University of Southern California majoring in communication and minoring in linguistics. At her high school, she was on the soccer team and in the French club, and also taught German at the German Language School in NYC. She loves photography, traveling, playing guitar and writing. Follow her on Instagram @lilybrickman!

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