How misconduct allegations are reshaping how people react

It's called the Weinstein effect. More people are coming out following an investigation into Harvey Weinstein's alleged misconduct.

NEW ORLEANS -- It seems like every time you flip on the TV or log on to social media, another high-profile public figure is being accused of sexual misconduct.

"It still takes 30 women to come forward before one woman is to be believed," Anita Hill said.

26 years ago, Anita Hill made such accusations about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his nomination hearings. However, her testimony was discounted and Thomas was ultimately confirmed and that time it didn't lead to a groundswell of allegations.

"I used to work in construction. I definitely worked in you know with majority men, and I did find that sometimes I was harassed, sometimes it was subtle, and other times, it was out in the open," Megan Gauthier, a jewelry maker and mom from St. John's Parish said.

Gauthier wishes, this social movement had happened years ago.

"People laughed it off, they didn't take it seriously.  When I went to higher management, they did not listen, they did not understand."

The result?  

"So I quit," Gauthier said. 

But today attitudes have changed.

" I think social media gives people..I think it makes people more comfortable talking about themselves and their lives," Kenneth Hooper said.

"I don't necessarily think it's more acceptable, I just think people are more open to say it, kind of following the leader," Tirrell Lacy said.

Eyewitness News asked why now, to Patricia Boyett, a professor at Loyola University who teaches students about gender equity and justice.

"I don't think that women accepted it before. Some of us tried to call out sexual harassment in our workplaces, and we were disappointed in the responses. Or maybe we felt it was going to hurt our careers," Boyett said.

What's changed recently is the invention of the internet and access to social media platforms.

"But now I think people are just feeling more embolded to come out because more and more people are saying it.  And they have other avenues.  Like I said, if they don't get the justice that they want, they have the social media avenue, so it's like they just can't just shut it down."

Disciplining employees is one step, but Boyett says employers have to make changes to discourage harassment and assault from ever happening.  

"Finally people are listening, and I just hope there will be a change and we all will come together to rectify those issues," Megan Gauthier said.

The change didn't come soon enough for Gauthier, but she's optimistic for her kids.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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