Tarana Burke, Gretchen Carlson and Ellen Pao on the fifth anniversary of #MeToo
Hello, Broadsheet readers! This is Maria Aspan, editor-in-chief of Fortune, replacing Emma. Stacey Abrams talks about her gubernatorial campaign, nine women are on Fortune’s “to watch” list, and it’s been five years since #MeToo—what’s changed?
– MeToo messy: How do you rate a complicated global toll on sexual harassment and gender bias?
In October 2017, the New York Times Triggered the downfall of Harvey Weinstein– and a larger viral conversation about sexism, harassment and abuse. Five years later, my Fortune colleagues and I wondered what the women involved in #MeToo, before and after it went viral, thought of its legacy today. And so, we asked over 14 of these women, including Tarana Burke, Ellen Pao, Gretchen Carlson and dream hampton, to reflect on what #MeToo did and didn’t change for a new feature in Fortunefrom the October/November 2022 issue.
In short: It’s complicated. “I’ve had a lot of disappointment over the past five years, don’t get me wrong,” says Burke, the activist who first coined “me too” in 2006. But “we actually live in a world different – the number of people whose lives have changed, the conversations that would not have taken place, the culture change.
Most of the women we spoke to, who otherwise had very different experiences of #MeToo, echoed this ambivalence. These women have traversed Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, Main Street and beyond. They included celebrities and executives as well as rank-and-file workers at McDonald’s, Google and Goldman Sachs.
Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare; Clockwise from top left: Burke: Richard Bord—Getty Images; Amanpour: Dia Dipasupil—Getty Images; Hampton: Chris Pizzello—Invision/AP Photo; DTP: David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images; Gupta: Bebeto Matthews—AP Photo; Carlson: Lou Rocco—Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images; Protest Images: Apu Gomes, Bill Tompkins, Sarah Morris, Timothy A. Clary—all Getty Images
And, like Burke, they alternated between optimism and frustration, not with #MeToo itself, but with what Dream Hampton calls the “Sisyphean nature” of trying to change the world.
“We’re definitely in the backlash phase,” said Hampton, the documentary maker of Surviving R. Kellytold me, citing the June Supreme Court’s decision to overturn deer v. Bundlee. “I wish I could say that we are marching towards freedom, rather than fighting for the right to abortion.”
Ellen Pao, whose 2012 sex discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins laid the groundwork for #MeToo in Silicon Valley, spoke out against the continued lack of accountability in the tech industry. In the years since #MeToo, male founders have quit for sexual harassment or simply setting fire to billions of investor dollars, but they’re still getting plenty of VC funding for their next startup.
“It’s embarrassing. It doesn’t make any sense. But it happens because the people who have the checkbooks and the big investment funds don’t really seem to care,” Pao told me.
Yet #MeToo has forced most businesses and industries to pay more attention to sexism and harassment. As Burke said, “There was a time when I literally had to beg people to put this on the agenda. Now people want me to be on the agenda.
Our magazine article – reported by Erika Fry, Emma Hinchliffe, Beth Kowitt and me – is here, and you can read longer interviews with Pao here and hampton here.
The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.
– To monitor. The wealth the annual list of most powerful women was published Tuesday, but there are several women not yet on this list who are on our radar for future rankings as their careers progress. That includes Amazon’s senior vice president of North American stores Christine Beauchamp, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Xbox Sarah Bond, and Goldman Sachs’ co-head of global wealth management Meena Flynn. Fortune
– Central starting. Melanie Perkins, the founder of Canva who is on the cover of Fortunefrom the October/November issue, can claim three combined accomplishments that no other woman in startups has yet achieved: she founded her company; she is CEO; the company is worth more than $20 billion. But there are plenty of other startup founders and CEOs overseeing companies close to Canva on valuations worth watching, including Toyin Ajayi, CEO of Cityblock Health, and Julia Cheek, founder of Everly Health. Fortune
– Georgia in his head. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams discussed her campaign to oust incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, voting rights and the importance of Georgia’s black community in a Essence cover story. “We need to elect candidates who see us, hear us, represent us, and are committed to passing legislation that ensures our communities have the opportunity to thrive,” Abrams said. Essence
– Poor reception. by Liz Truss Conservative Party Conference Speech Wednesday was disrupted by two Greenpeace protesters challenging the British Prime Minister’s environmental policies. Greenpeace UK public affairs officer Rebecca Newsom and political officer Ami McCarthy were booed as they held up a banner that read: ‘Who voted for this? and were eventually escorted out by security. Guardian
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: KeyAnna Schmiedl joins Mozilla as vice president of diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
– Trapped in a Movie. Cherelle Griner has compared the imprisonment of his wife Brittany Griner and the US government’s attempts to free her to a hostage situation in a movie. Brittany, sentenced to nine years in prison on August 4 for drug possession, has an appeal hearing set for Monday, October 25. The White House called the hearing a “sham”. SCS
– O Canada. Quebec voters elected women to 46% of its seats in the Legislative Assembly, the highest rate of any Canadian province. British Columbia previously set the record of 43% seats in the Legislative Assembly in 2020. Bloomberg
– In solidarity. A Swedish member of the European Parliament cut her hair in solidarity with Iranian protesters during a speech at the EU Assembly on Tuesday evening. “Until Iranian women are free, we will stand by your side,” Iraqi-born Abir Al-Sahlani said before cutting her ponytail. Reuters
– Ukrainian involvement. US intelligence officials now believe parts of the Ukrainian government were behind the killing of Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist in a car bombing in Moscow in August. U.S. officials warned Ukrainian officials about the assassination, though Ukrainian officials still deny their involvement. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
Loretta Lynn pioneered her own kind of feminism Slate
Judge Jackson’s Original Case for Racial Equality Spy
The rise of expensive children’s equipment Outside
Women come—to vote She
“It’s important for people to see how pregnancy and childbirth is a medical event that happens in a hospital with doctors.”
–Katie Darling, candidate for Congress from Louisiana explaining her reason for giving birth on camera in a recent campaign ad.