One year after the #MeToo movement’s massive uprising, the conversation has turned to whether women feel it’s easier to speak out, and what justice should look like for survivors. The road forward was illuminated at the second annual Women in the World Canada Summit, in a candid talk with pioneering activists seeking to detoxify masculinity.
Actresses Mira Sorvino and Amber Tamblyn, who have both emerged as leading voices of the #MeToo movement, discussed some of the efforts they’ve been taking to counteract a culture that has fostered power dynamics in the entertainment business and in other industries that some influential men have exploited over the years. “Awareness is nothing if not coupled with action,” Mira Sorvino said.
Joining them onstage was CBC Arts host Amanda Parris and comedian Michael Ian Black.
And the talk couldn’t be more timely: This week, Les Moonves, the ousted chief executive of CBS, is the latest man to fall from his high perch — but with CBS pledging to donate $20 million to the #MeToo movement, former Hearst chief content officer Joanna Coles, who moderated the discussion, asked, “Is that enough?”
“I think it’s a good first step, but that’s not how he gets out of trouble,” answered Mira Sorvino, actress, activist and UNODC Goodwill Ambassador. “He has to be pursued through the criminal justice system just as Harvey Weinstein was being pursued. There have to be real consequences. Rich people don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card. Not anymore. It’s time to really achieve justice for victims.” She noted that if the $20 million goes to the legal defense fund, it will surely help, but his individual accusers still deserve restorative justice.
The conversation also turned to Louis C.K., whose “comeback” performance at a New York comedy club has been hotly debated, with Sorvino pointing out that he hasn’t made a retribution to society after his actions, or publicly taken ownership of his misconduct. He merely disappeared for a while and then reemerged. “It’s not called Time Out, it’s called Time’s Up,” she said.
Author, actress, and director Amber Tamblyn also pointed out that the comedian didn’t acknowledge any allegations. “The fact that he also didn’t say anything in this set tells me he just didn’t go do the work,” Tamblyn said, imagining his thought process: “So you spent a year doing what? Sulking? Rewatching your movies? I don’t know what he was doing,” while noting that everyone has the ability to change and grow and perhaps Louis needs someone in his life to show him how to do the work.
Tamblyn also felt emotions rise while watching the recent U.S. Open final with Serena Williams, during which the tennis champion said sexism was to blame for a male umpire’s calls against her, and Tamblyn says she received a text from a high-powered female executive who felt the same. Watching the match, she said, “That is every experience that a woman has ever had when she is frustrated or angry in a room,” when they are trying emotionally express themselves and the reaction is to say, “’Don’t do that,’ because no one wants to listen to anything other than rational thought, and there is no space in this world for emotional communication or for emotional intelligence.”
The conversation about masculinity and the way forward only grows more complex. For Michael Ian Black, the comedian, actor, author, and the lone male representative on the panel, his advice for men is to not just hear what women are saying, but to really listen and process. “Right now I think a lot of men are in a very defensive crouch, and I think right now, as a guy, you have to be OK in that discomfort, because it is fucking uncomfortable.”
Watch highlights from the discussion and video of the complete panel above.
More from the 2018 Canada Summit