New York magazine
Sexual Assault Image Credit: New York magazine
Sexual Assault Image Credit: New York magazine

Was It Worth It? - Is It Still? Will It Ever Be?

Those who came forward about sexual assault and harassment tell about everything that followed.

Rebecca Traister

These questions hover over a conversation about gender and power abuse one year after Christine Blasey Ford testified that she had been sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in high school; two years after investigative journalists published the accounts of women who’d been harassed and assaulted by Harvey Weinstein; three years after Roger Ailes stepped down as head of Fox News after being accused of harassment and coercion by women on his network; 28 years after Anita Hill testified about what she experienced working alongside Clarence Thomas.

What has happened to the people who told their stories has been intense and strange and often difficult. It has included some celebration and relief, sure, but also unwelcome exposure, threats, and thrown drinks and epithets; the undermining of their characters, the misconstruing of their intentions; a realignment of their identities; familial and romantic rifts; money and jobs lost. And through it all, an indifference to these effects from the same public that has used their stories as the raw material of a headline-grabbing, ground- shifting national argument.

WHAT IS THE WORTH, exactly, of stories that are told mostly by women? To judge the worth, we have to be clear about the cost.

This fall has offered space for some assessment of all that happened so rapidly. New books have been published, including Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said and, soon, Ronan Fa


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