A year on, there’s already a depressing familiarity to the #MeToo cycle. First comes the revelation. Then days of salacious headlines. Then the moment of reckoning: a powerful man either loses his job. Or he doesn’t. And on we go until it all happens again. When #MeToo first exploded, I shared the optimism about its capacity to create change: not just for the victims of the rich and famous, but also for those whose transgressions are never going to be newsworthy. Today I’m much warier.
It’s undoubtedly satisfying seeing some big cheeses get their richly deserved comeuppance, but it has its limits. Sometimes a genuine expression of remorse and a promise to do better might be preferable. And the very thing that has made #MeToo impactful – its short-circuiting of the due process that has failed women for decades – was only ever going to work against a handful of predators, in part because the more revelations that emerge, the more they lose their capacity to shock. But also because exposing a few famous men for what they are is probably not the most effective way of reshaping what men can and can’t get away with in workplaces far from the media glare.