The conviction of Bill Cosby might seem like a significant breakthrough, but it’s too soon to conclude it’s a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement.
Indeed, there’s a risk that the verdict could create the false perception that the problem is fixed and that it’s now time to divert our attention to other priorities. In workplaces and other environments throughout North America, there are still power imbalances that lead to predatory and other inappropriate behaviour. And a culture of covering up rather than addressing the problem persists in too many places.
Given how many sexual assaults are still unreported, Cosby’s conviction is likely an exception rather than a new rule. Certainly a lot has changed in the last year; no doubt there are past offenders who are behaving much differently and victims who are more likely to come forward. But the ordeal of the criminal justice system remains daunting for many women and the odds of conviction too low to make it worth their while. Until that changes, one conviction may be worth cheering. But it hasn’t fixed anything.
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