President's Message -DECEMBER
Amy T. Brantly
WLALA President 2017-2018
The holidays are in full swing and our calendars are filling up fast with parties and celebrations. WLALA’s own Holiday Reception, where we celebrate our new Life Members and the new members of the Los Angeles Judiciary, is tonight at the beautiful City Club. And, our Annual Giving campaign, where WLALA Foundation raises money for scholarships, grants and fellowships, among other things, has also commenced. The next month will surely be a time for giving, celebrating and looking forward to a new year and the positive changes that it will bring.
One recent area of positive change that I think deserves special attention is the apparent sexual harassment revolution. Starting with the allegations against Harvey Weinstein in October which detailed decades of allegations of sexual harassment against actresses and others and resulting in several other women coming forward against alleged harassers including Ben Affleck, John Besh, George H.W. Bush, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, Al Franken, John Conyers, Mark Halperin, John Lasseter, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer. In total, some 35 men from various industries have been accused of misconduct from lewd texts to rape. The allegations against sexual predators also gave birth to the #metoo movement on social media demonstrating how widespread and common sexual harassment is. Twitter alone reported that more than 1.7 million women and men have used the hashtag in 85 countries.
This revolution has been levied not by women alone, but also by many high-powered men who have spoken out on the need for change. Many have pondered why the response has been so powerful this time as sexual misconduct and harassment have spurned the headlines for decades. What makes this different? Some have said it is because the women who accused Weinstein did not need fame or fortune and, therefore, did not suffer from the usual credibility issues. I personally have wondered whether it may be in part a reaction to the election of a President who bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women. Whatever the reason, I hope that this recent revolution will result in social change so that perhaps my daughter, and millions of her contemporaries, won’t join the #metoo movement as they grow older.
Of course, the backlash to this revolution has also taken hold. As more allegations surface, more people, both men and women, have called some of the accusations overly sensitive or a witch hunt. And, some men have reiterated support for what I call the “Mike Pence philosophy” – refusing to interact with women for fear that they will be unjustly accused. And while a man’s right to due process is obviously critical, it is also vital that our society takes these allegations seriously and that we all stand up to those who use power to sexually harass and abuse others. I am hopeful that the recent overwhelming support for victims will make some predators think twice before striking again and realize that sexual harassment and sexual assault is not normal, okay, mere flirting, or a man’s God-given right.
WLALA will continue to monitor these issues as well as issues relating to equal pay, reproductive rights and the promotion of women in our profession. Next year will bring many new programs on these issues. We hope that you will join us in continuing to “Be The Change.” Happy Holidays and best wishes in 2018!!
 See e.g., www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/anita-hill-on-weinstein-trump-and-a-watershed-moment-for-sexual-harassment-accusations