Last June Director/Producer Jennifer Townsend was interviewed by her daughter, Rebecca Murray, to discuss topics associated with Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise. During the interview, sexual harassment was a recurring topic, not only because it’s a core theme of Thelma & Louise, but because it was reported daily in news media with Bill Cosby taking center stage.
Two weeks later, another headline broke that caught national media attention. That of former Fox News Anchor, Gretchen Carlson, who filed a lawsuit against former Fox Kingpin, Roger Ailes. Since Ms. Carlson’s story broke, many more women, also harassed by Ailes, have come forward.
In 1991, the year Thelma & Louise was released, another woman was the center of a controversial media storm. Anita Hill, a law professor, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas during his run for Supreme Court Justice. The way in which Ms. Hill was intrusively interrogated on national television was a stark reminder for women of the perils of speaking up against one’s perpetrator.
Standing up to the injustice of sexual harassment
It takes a brave person to do what Ms. Hill and Ms. Carlson did. Stepping forward on behalf of all women. We think of their efforts in standing up to injustice akin to that first courageous step on the moon. One small step for woman … one giant leap for womankind.
Sadly for all of us, the common threads of this painful storyline are heard all too often. But beneath every story that is told lie thousands that are not told. And may never be told. Stories buried in the hearts and minds of victims who have been deeply disrespected, abused, and used as pawns in the sick games of others.
The risks are great, but worth it in the long run
If a woman speaks up, she risks losing her job, career opportunities, her reputation, her friends. If she doesn’t speak up, she risks losing self-respect and sanity, along with her job. More often than not, women face a lose-lose scenario. This is why many women remain silent, and why some remain in harassing relationships for years – even decades.
As a society, we must unite to combat the current tendency to normalize sexual harassment. We must refuse to go along with the status quo. We can begin by sharing our stories, creating awareness, and bringing the ugly truth out of its hiding places. When a woman is brave enough to do that, she deserves all the support we can give her.