Good morning, bed sheet readers! That is Fortune head writer Maria Aspan, replacing Emma. Stacey Abrams talks about her campaign for governor; nine women are in Fortune’s List of “Those to follow”; And it’s been five years since #MeToo, what has changed?
Messy #MeToo: How do you assess a complicated global reckoning on sexual harassment and gender bias?
In October 2017, the New York Times It kick-started the downfall of Harvey Weinstein and a broader viral conversation about sexism, harassment, and abuse. Five years later, my Fortune Colleagues and I wondered how women involved in #MeToo, before and after it went viral, feel about its legacy today. So we asked more than 14 of these women, including Tarana Burke, Ellen Pao, Gretchen Carlson and dream hampton, to reflect on what #MeToo did and didn’t change for a new feature on FortuneOctober/November 2022 edition.
In short: it’s complicated. “I’ve had a lot of disappointments in the last five years, don’t get me wrong,” says Burke, the activist who first coined “me too” in 2006. But “we actually live in a different world, the number of people whose lives have changed, the conversations that would not have taken place, the change in the culture.”
Most of the women we spoke to, who otherwise had very different experiences of #MeToo, echoed this ambivalence. These women spanned Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, Main Street, and beyond. They were celebrities and executives, as well as rank and file workers at McDonald’s, Google and Goldman Sachs.
And, like Burke, they alternated between optimism and frustration, not with #MeToo per se, but with what Dream Hampton calls the “Sisyphean nature” of trying to change the world.
“We’re certainly in the backlash phase,” Hampton, the filmmaker for Surviving R. Kellytold me, citing the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Tacome. “I wish we could say we’re marching to freedom, instead of fighting for abortion rights.”
Ellen Pao, whose 2012 gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins set the stage for #MeToo in Silicon Valley, decried the continued lack of accountability in the tech industry. In the years since #MeToo, male founders have quit due to sexual harassment or simply setting fire to billions of dollars from investors, but still get plenty of venture capital funding for their next startup.
“It’s embarrassing. It doesn’t make sense. But it happens because the people who have the checkbooks and the big mutual funds don’t seem to care much,” Pao told me.
Still, #MeToo forced most companies and industries to pay more attention to sexism and harassment. As Burke put it: “There was a time when I had to literally beg people to put this item on the agenda. Now people want me on the agenda.”
Our magazine feature, reported by Erika Fry, Emma Hinchliffe, Beth Kowitt and myself, is here, and you can read longer interviews with Pao here and Hampton here.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
some to see. Fortune’s The annual list of most powerful women was released Tuesday, but there are several women who are not on that list yet who are on our radar for future rankings as their careers progress. That includes Christine Beauchamp, Amazon’s senior vice president of stores in North America; Microsoft’s Xbox Corporate Vice President Sarah Bond; and Goldman Sachs co-head of global wealth management Meena Flynn. Fortune
home hub. Melanie Perkins, the founder of Canva who is on the cover of Fortune’The October/November issue can boast three combined achievements that no other women in startups has yet achieved: she founded her company; she is executive director; the company is worth more than $20 billion. But it’s worth looking at many other startup founders and CEOs who oversee companies close to Canva in valuation, including Cityblock Health CEO Toyin Ajayi and Everly Health founder Julia Cheek. Fortune
Georgia on her mind. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams spoke about her campaign to unseat incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, voting rights, and the importance of Georgia’s black community at a Essence cover story. “We must elect candidates who see us, hear us, represent us, and commit to passing laws that ensure our communities have a chance to thrive,” says Abrams. Essence
bad reception. Liz Truss Conservative Party conference speech on Wednesday it was interrupted by two Greenpeace protesters challenging the UK Prime Minister’s environmental policies. Greenpeace UK public affairs chief Rebecca Newsom and policy officer Ami McCarthy were booed while holding a banner reading: “Who voted for this?” and finally they were escorted by security. guardian
MOVEMENTS AND AGITATORS: KeyAnna Schmiedl joins Mozilla as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Sustainability.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
trapped in a movie. Cherelle Griner compared the incarceration of her wife, Brittany Griner, and the US government’s attempts to free her, to a hostage situation in a movie. Brittany, sentenced to nine years in prison on August 4 for drug possession, has an appeal hearing scheduled for October 25. The White House called the hearing a “farce.” CBS
Canada. Quebec voters elected women to 46% of their legislative seats, the highest of any Canadian province. British Columbia previously set the legislative seat record of 43% in 2020. Bloomberg
in solidarity. A Swedish member of the European Parliament cut her hair in solidarity with Iranian protesters during a speech at the EU assembly on Tuesday night. “Until the women of Iran are free, we will be with you,” said Abir Al-Sahlani, born in Iraq, before cutting off her ponytail. Reuters
ukrainian involvement. US intelligence agents now believe that parts of the Ukrainian government were behind the killing of Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, in a Moscow car bombing in August. US officials warned Ukraine about the assassination, though Ukrainian officials still deny involvement. New York Times
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“It’s important for people to see how pregnancy and childbirth is a medical event that happens in a hospital with doctors.”
—Louisiana congressional candidate Katie Darling explains her reason for giving birth on camera in a recent campaign ad.