#MeToo and #TimesUp have dominated much of the trending sections on Twitter and Facebook over the previous six months. Following the revelation that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was a serial sexual harasser, millions of men and women have taken to social media to raise awareness and demand change.
“Over 12 million women and men contributed to the #METOO outcry on social media unmasking an endemic issue that spreads across all industries, as well as all genders, ages, races, and socio-economic statuses. We are at an unprecedented time in history. We need action and solutions,” Sarah Moshman, the Emmy-award winning director behind the NEVERTHELESS documentary explains on her Kickstarter page.
Moshman, herself, has an unfortunately deep understanding of the issues women are facing after suffering from years of harassment while working in the entertainment industry.
“I experienced my own share of harassment in the TV industry, specifically when working on reality TV at various networks. When It happened to me I didn’t seem to have a voice. When I reported it to my bosses they ignored my pleas. It seemed to be something you just dealt with working in the space,” Moshman told RedStateDisaster.
No stranger to empowering women, Moshman’s first two films also focused on empowering and inspiring women and showcasing more female role models on screen. This time, she’s targeting a massive epidemic that targets one in three women and also affects a surprisingly large number of men.
This film took on special meaning for the director who recently became a mom. “Several years [after being harassed] I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. To me, it felt like you needed to face your demons a bit before you bring a female into this world. I wanted to make the world a safer place for her to live in.”
NEVERTHELESS’ Lofty Goals
Moshman isn’t interested in calling out a single person, celebrity, or even a company. “I’m looking to find where the country is going as a whole.” It’s a lofty goal that has already led to 16 interviews with business leaders, sexual harassment training experts, and people who have first-hand experience with workplace harassment.
“It’s not that somebody decides to be a harasser one day. These behaviors and actions have precursors. How we are raising our boys and girls in this country, specifically, the gender roles we press upon our kids. Girls from a young age are not taught to use their voice to speak up,” Moshman explains.
In an interview with sexual harassment training expert Lauren Roselle, Moshman learned that a key to slowing the spread of harassment was teaching girls to be more assertive. “It’s not aggression, it’s showing girls how people should treat them,” she told me.
The Legality Of Workplace HR
Even with the right tools at their disposal, Moshman says there is a lot working against both male and female employees.
The employment contract signed at the time of starting a new job has “silenced employees” through use of confidentiality agreements. “We give away our rights when these instances come up. HR is set up to protect the company and not the individual.”
After speaking with an employment lawyer it was clear to Moshman that documenting any potential cases of harassment is paramount to proving future claims. “The most important part is to speak up. That doesn’t mean to speak up to the person harassing you, it could mean recording messages through email, text messages, and to yourself,” Moshman says.
“Write down your experiences. That doesn’t mean recording or video it could mean writing an email to yourself so you have some experiences to recall at a later time. If you are experiencing harassment there is a good chance someone else is to. It’s probably a related behavior.”
The practice of documenting all cases of harassment is called “Me Too Evidence” and term that actually pre-dates the current #MeToo movement. Me Too evidence can help corroborate experiences between multiple people who have been harassed when they finally come forward.
Exploring Common Misconceptions
“There’s a common misconception that harassment is about sex. It’s more about the power dynamic,” Moshman says.
“The documentary explores the science behind harassment, the neurology behind it. So far, it appears to have more to do with the power dynamic and not the actual act.”
Sarah is also looking closely at that power dynamic when men are harassed in the workplace. “With men, there is a lot of masculinity behind it. ‘Should I have been able to stand up to it’ is a common question men face,” Moshman explains.
A Better Workplace For Everyone
It’s been said many times that harassment won’t end until leaders within organizations take responsibility for creating a safe workplace.
“Harassment is in the eyes fo the receiver. Leadership has to set the tone for what is tolerated, ‘here is where we draw the line.’ Management has to explain the experience and I don’t know if management is really doing that.”
Moshman describes one call involving the entertainment industry. A female actress was being described in a lewd manner while a female and her male boss were on a call. Her boss quickly told the man on the other side of the line know, “we don’t talk about people that way.” The man apologized and the situation was quickly rectified.
“It’s about giving men the tools to stand up for women and to have actionable solutions we can put into the workplace to make it a safer environment,” Moshman says.
Deep Into Production
During our discussion, Moshman revealed that her $50,000 Kickstarter campaign was aimed at completing production on NEVERTHELESS. She has already interviewed 16 men and women, allowing them to share their own experiences with workplace harassment and providing tools that can help change the narrative.
The Kickstarter campaign will provide Moshman with the money necessary to rent more equipment and finish filming by the end of 2018 with plans to release the documentary at the top of 2019.
At the time of our interview, she has raised $47,127 from 513 backers. Because Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” platform, the next five days will be crucial.
You can donate to the campaign before Monday, April 2 by CLICKING HERE.
Here’s a quick look at the unfinished documentary:
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.