The Present Perfect of #metoo and what now?

01/02/2018 04:52 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2018

Written by Khadija Rjeto, CEO, Solutions International Advisors and Michael Seo

If you are a grammarian (which we aren’t) you know that the present perfect is a grammatical combination of the present tense and the perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has consequences in the present.

The momentum of the #metoo movement is not waning and we’ve witnessed the power of transparency and solidarity bringing the past to the present.

  • Media is turning the tables on “credible”. While​ the burden of proof in sexual misconduct cases has traditionally rested almost always, on the victim, the current national focus on the topic is affording victims the benefit of the doubt , or at least those victims whose accusations have made​ it to the pages of major media outlets.  While the media has had it’s missteps most media outlets have been quick to publicly acknowledge them but more so than ever before victims have a voice and are being listened to.
  • Strength in numbers but muted by time. As the numbers of reported sexual misconduct acts grows, the #metoo movement gains in strength. With each revelation, the fear of isolation diminishes just a bit and the resolve to come forward increases but restitution is hindered by time (and the statute of limitations). We all benefit from exposing powerful predators and the system that enabled them but how will revelation lead to consequence?
  • This is no longer about an individual. We know that sexual misconduct, abhorrent behaviour and unaddressed transgressions are de facto institutional shortcomings that go beyond an individual. Mitigating the power imbalance between the aggressor and the aggrieved can only be tackled systemically, but where will it come from?
  • The glass ceiling isn’t shattered but the floor may be collapsing. Not everyone bringing forward charges ​is in a position to fight the system, in fact, it is quite possible that there are far more victims still employed by organizations ​where the allegations happened and thus aren’t in a position to ​push for change. Whilst the removal of the offender is often swift and highly visible it is yet undetermined as to how the absence of the accused will effect the opportunities for others in the organization.
  • Moving beyond celebrity. In the face of public wrath, many high-profile personalities have been shamed to step down from day-to-day management of the companies, many of which they founded. The most notable examples have come from the media, entertainment and the food services, industries that are known for being personality driven. What about low profile predators​? Can the movement ​push for ​institutional change in organizations that are not celebrity driven?

Although not nearly as visible, we cannot ignore that in 2016 over 70,000 sexual assaults took place in the US Military with female service members reporting sexual assault at a rate two and a half times greater than male Service member victims. Yet, more men, approximately 17%, reported the crime than ever before up from 10% in 2014. The Military Justice Improvement Act and the Deborah Sampson Act have not passed the proposed legislation. Both acts seek to insert more independence in a culture where secrecy is strength conflated with loyalty. Respectively, the Military Justice Improvement Act seeks to move the decision-making authority on whether to prosecute sexual assault and other serious crimes to independent, professional military prosecutors. The Deborah Sampson Act includes a mandated for the government to establish a partnership with at least one nongovernmental organization to provide legal services to women veterans.

#metoo are five letters that are more than just a hashtag and addressing past wrongs is a substantial achievement but not the end goal. The greater challenge ahead is how #metoo shapes what will happen tomorrow and the day after.

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