Now that Matt Lauer’s name has been added to the list of media figures, Hollywood stars and executives and politicians implicated in a flurry of allegations of inappropriate behaviour, there’s no question that something has changed. Long-frustrated victims have been empowered to come forward and share their stories.
For once, it appears, there is a consequence to the bad behaviour of powerful men. But while it’s tempting to see this as a potential breakthrough, it’s too early to declare victory for all victims. What’s happened in the past few months affects a select group of perpetrators who are famous. Their notoriety creates media interest in the allegations against them and leverage for the accusers against any employer who stands by them.
But what about the less famous but still powerful people who humiliate or harass their employees in less public settings, for whom no media inquiry or public shaming is likely? Some stars may have fallen but as long as the behaviour continues in countless workplaces throughout our society, the problem still isn’t solved.