#MeToo: the movement and Marlborough

By, Alex ’19, Allie ’19, Bridget ’18, Noor  ’20 and Kaelyn ’20

Teacher Opinions

Teachers, administrators and faculty spoke out about the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, sparking discussion across the Marlborough community.

Head of school Dr. Priscilla Sands said that she sees potential for the movement and its possible impact on the Marlborough community.

“I am hugely hopeful because I think that until women started to talk about [sexual harassment], it felt really lonely. Women have always had these experiences, but they were never highlighted,” Sands said. “I am very excited to be at Marlborough at this time. What I really want is for the students to graduate with a strong sense of themselves. After all, education is about finding our voice.”

Head of World Languages Dr. Elizabeth Vitanza said the #MeToo movement will affect future generations of women.

“I think the #MeToo movement is going to help your generation to not tolerate stuff. Women in my generation and older we just said ‘well that’s just the way men are.’ Enough,”  Vitanza said.

Vitanza also said she believes girls here at Marlborough can help spread the message of the movement.

“I think that girls at Marlborough should go and work on someone’s campaign Republican or Democrat, go get a woman elected, go work at the downtown Women’s Center, go be a teacher go into a field where you can inspire future generations of woman,” Vitanza said.

Head strength and conditioning coach Lindsey Yocum said students can help by talking to other women.

“I think the first thing for either a student or someone in the community is to go to a shelter go to groups and talk to women. I think this is probably one of the most powerful ones just because everyone either is a mother, has a daughter, knows a woman, loves a woman,” Yocum said.

Head of the English Department Deborah Banner said that facilitating these types of conversations is something they aim to do in classrooms. In her Gender and Sexuality class, Banner said she aims to encourage conversation about the movement and its effects.

“I think that one of the consensus that we reached in the classroom was that raising people’s awareness of the fact that [sexual abuse and harassment] is a problem is worth discussing at any level,” Banner said.

Due to the movement, teachers have been finding out that they have to make certain curricular choices such as adding or eliminating films or novels.

English Instructor Dr. Adam Lowenstein said that in his Jewish American Literature class, there has been some discussion about whether to incorporate a Woody Allen film into the curriculum, especially after the recent controversy.

Advisories have also been discussing the One Love organization, which was founded to raise awareness on the consequences of sexual assault, and its important messages.

English instructor David Long said his view on how important this conversation was to talk about during advisory.

“I think that one of the most successful parts of the advisory program is when we looked at the One Love scenarios. I feel like this is something that we appreciate the opportunity to talk about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and ways in which girls and women can empower themselves to not be mistreated or to identify inequality,” Long said.

The #MeToo Movement has also spurred conversation about former Marlborough teacher Joe Koetters who was convicted of sexual abuse of a student.

English Instructor Chris Thompson said that Marlborough has already been  ahead of the #MeToo movement.

“I think Marlborough is already talking about all these issues very seriously, going back to the time of the Joe Koetters scandal here, so I don’t know that the #MeToo movement has affected us much since we really had to jump forward that time,” Thompson said.

Some such as Director of Educational and Counseling services Dr. Marissa Crandall are optimistic of the movement’s potential impacts beyond Marlborough and beyond the entertainment industry.

Crandall said that she hopes the movement will continue and affect industries outside entertainment.

“I hope it will, I’m sure it will. I’m concerned that there will be backlash in any industry, but industries outside Hollywood especially… I do think that Hollywood in America has a pretty wide reach so I think there will be ripples in other industries,” Crandall said.

Student Opinions

Marlborough students said they were first exposed to the movement by witnessing the trending #MeToo hashtag on social media. Many said they believe social media is a good way to bring focus to these sexual harassment issues.

Jessie ’19 said she believes the #MeToo movement is powerful because it has given people a platform to share their stories.

“I think it’s empowering that people sharing their stories in the #MeToo movement are empowering others to come out with their story… It doesn’t stop the problem of sexual harassment or assault, but I think that every little bit of awareness helps,”Jessie said.

Gaby ’20 said she thinks it is especially important for celebrities to use the platforms they have to talk about the #MeToo movement and spread the message to their large audiences.

“I know there are things like putting in policies in workplaces and having higher securities, but I think social media is definitely a start and a great way to engage with a really, really large audience,” Gaby said.

Due to the spread of people’s stories and the words #MeToo trending all over social media, the question of whether the movement would have a lasting impact, or just fade away arose. Many Marlborough students agree that, although the movement is creating positive change, it won’t have lasting effects unless it develops outside the hashtag.

Kate ’18 said that while she is not sure if the #MeToo movement will last on social media, she said she believes the movement’s message has already had lasting effects.

“I do think that if [the movement] does not stay around, the ripples that have been created will stick around. I don’t know if it will endure as a hashtag. I don’t know if the movement will last in name, but definitely in impact,” Kate said.

While there has been an increase in people’s awareness because of the #MeToo movement, many Marlborough students said they feel that everyone should begin to take action for the message to really make an impact. Emilynne ’20 added that the message of the #MeToo movement must build outside the hashtag to bring actual change to society.

“It’s great that we’re finally talking about something that we generally don’t talk about and that maybe we can start solving the problem. But if the most we ever do is tweet ‘#MeToo,’ that’s not going to get us anywhere… So, we have to capitalize on the fact that it is now in the public view. We have to do something about it,” Emilynne said.

Through the Advisory program, students are learning about the issues #MeToo has raised. There are many students who have said they want to learn more about the topic and how they can help the movement.

Lux ’18 is in the Honors Research program at Marlborough, working on a research project related to the movement. The project is focused on the role of women as directors and storytellers in the film industry and specifically on whether or not hiring a female filmmaker mitigates risk of movie failure compared to hiring a male filmmaker.

Frisina said that she noticed that women have been objectified in movies and seen as props, rather than being front and center. She said she sees a direct connection between her research and the #MeToo movement.

“For so long, it’s been the men [that] are the ones telling the stories, so [it] is the only perspective that’s been released, and it’s what is making the movies, so it’s important that we have female storytellers to bring authenticity to movies and redefine how women are seen in society,” Lux said.

Many Marlborough students said they understand the importance of women having a voice in both movies and in the world, and know that the #MeToo movement is a step in the right direction, but also that everyone must continue to discuss these issues and fight for equality.

“It feels like a vindicating thing to have a movement like this at the national level when it’s something that it is so taboo to talk about, but making it seem pretty grounded in women that are seen as role models. I don’t think Marlborough is a stranger to talking about this kind of conversation. I think that Marlborough has always been ahead of the movement,” Kate said.

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