From Hollywood to Spain, 2018 will go down in history as the year in which women raised their voices. The exposure of victims and harassers with first and last popular names has exposed the dirt of sectors such as cinema or fashion.
The year 2018 will go down in history as the year in which women around the world dared to say me too. The year in which feminism took over the streets, from Buenos Aries to Madrid, to ask for equality of rights. The year in which accusations were claimed with well-known first and last names, some of them belonging to highly popular people all over the planet.
Even though the Me Too movement was shaped in 2018, the spark that ignited the flame was an article published by the New York Times the 5th of October 2017. In it, the journal explained how producer Harvey Weinstein had paid for years the victims of his abuses so that such incidents were not disclosed publicly.
In the following days, actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Rosanna Arquette or Rose McGowan admitted to have experienced similar situations of abuse or harassment by part of Weinstein, who had been one of the most powerful men in Hollywood for decades.
On the international women’s day, March the 8th, massive protests were organised all around the world
Weinstein is behind some of the jewels of the United States cinema during the last decades. With Miramax, the producer that he founded in the eighties with his brother Bob, is responsible for films such as Pulp Fiction or Scream, and the trademark The Weinstein Company, the group they both promoted in 2005, owns successes such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona or The King’s Speech. His behaviour was an open secret in Hollywood, and a sort of typical joke for events and television shows. But it wasn’t until his victims stepped forward that the company he founded decided to fire him, just to end up in bankruptcy in a matter of four months.
The 15th of October, the actress Alyssa Milano rescued from twitter the #MeToo hashtag, promoted by the activist Tarana Burke on MySpace more than a decade ago. The actress invited all her followers to reveal situations of harassment and abuse, and women all around the world picked up her advice, exposing the magnitude of an issue that some considered already solved. The Me Too era had just started.
The step forward of such popular people encouraged other women to break their silences and lawsuits were multiplied: from Donald Trump to Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Affleck or David Copperfield. This exposition contributed to erase the stigma from victims and helped to manifest and denounce other sexist acts beyond sexual harassment. On the brink of ending the fiscal year, the Time magazine named person of the year to “the women who broke their silence”.
The step forward of such popular people encouraged other women to break their silences and lawsuits were multiplied
From Hollywood to the world
The 1st of January 2018 more than 300 women from the art and showbusiness industry founded the movement Time’s Up and invited all the sector to dress in black for the Golden Globes Award show, which took place six days later. In that way, feminism reached all magazine covers and daily news around the world only to jump into the streets days later.
The international women’s day, March the 8th, massive protests were organised everywhere in the world and Spain hosted its second feminist strike in history, with a broad follow-up and repercussion. In Chile, women went into the streets to demand equal education; in August, a green parade walked all over Argentina to defend the legalisation of abortion, and in Brazil, thousands of people protested against the extreme-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro.
Protests against the movement, for its part, have been quite minoritarian. In France, one hundred artists and intellectuals headed by Catherine Deneuve signed a statement in which they rejected “sexual puritanism”, although Deneuve ultimately backed up and asked for the victims’ forgiveness.
Fashion brands have capitalised feminist movements through the release of collections
A year after the beginning of the movement, at least two hundred well-positioned men in the United States have lost their jobs due to being publicly accused of sexual abuse of harassment according to a research carried out by the New York Times. Some of them, Weinstein included, even face criminal charges. In total, 920 people denounced having been victims of some of these people.
Contrastingly, a year before such claims were filed against Weinstein, at least thirty people with high profiles were shown in the news after either quitting or being fired due to public accusations of wrongful sexual conducts.
In the working environment, the task is still titanic. Even though, in the last decades, the integration of women in the international labour environment and the fight for equality have joined the social and political agenda more and more every day, only 48.7% of women around the world have a paid employment and barely 22% occupy high-management charges.
In Spain, the share of female directives in Spanish corporations is stuck at 27%, exactly the same figure than last year and only one tenth above 2016, according to the report Women in business: obey or lead? carried out by Grant Thornton. The research points out that 20% of the country’s companies have not incorporated women in any relevant position. Four years ago, in 2014, the figure ascended up to 33%.
Ahead of 2020, the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores set in the Code of Good Governance the objective that the number of councillors in listed societies would have to represent, at least, 30% of the board of directors. “Losing out on the potential entrepreneurial talent of 51% of the population (the women) cannot be economically rational in the conjunct of our country’s large companies”, claims the document.
Fashion, against the wall
The Me Too movement has reached the fashion industry too, facing it against its own demons: from backstage harassments to low representativity in the leaderships and going through wage inequality.
After the Harvey Weinstein case came out to light, several models sued photographers such as Terry Richardson (who admitted that his professional relationship with women is “sexually explicit”), Mario Testino or Bruce Weber. The publishing company Condé Nast answered with a conduct code for photographic sessions, in which there was included the presence of the parents if models were to be underaged. Parallelly, companies like Dior or Chanel capitalised the movement with collections and runways under feminist mottos which were highly criticised.
In Spain, women occupy a fourth part of top-executive positions in the three biggest Spanish companies of the fashion business
The Weinstein case by itself impacted transversely in the sector: his already ex-wife Georgina Chapman is the founder of the Marchesa brand, specialised in party suits, and one of Hollywood’s favourite. The firm, due to the accusations against the producer, suffered a boycott.
At the same time, in the boards of directors of a sector in which women are its main clients, they also continue to be a minority. None of the ten biggest fashion distribution companies are led by a woman. Moreover, there is no woman leading any of the best ten sports group nor the best ten perfumery ones. There are only two female CEOs in the top ten department stores, two more in children’s fashion groups, again two for footwear and only one in luxury (Miuccia Prada, who shares the position with his husband, Patrizio Bertelli).
In Spain, women occupy a fourth part of top-executive positions in the three biggest Spanish companies of the fashion business: Inditex, Mango and Grupo Tenda, in line with the global average of all sectors, standing at 25%. The three biggest fashion companies have a total of 54 high-positioned jobs, fourteen of which are currently occupied by women. In the case of boards of directors, women occupy only 9% of the seats in the three biggest Spanish fashion companies.
Feminism has been shaped under different movements such as Me Too and Time’s Up, although the revindication continues to be the same one: equality.