REVIEW: Women who stood up against workplace misconduct

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by ELYSIAN Magazine

She Said opens with pointed criticism of Donald Trump, but he’s not the villain of this story. The bad guy in this movie is Harvey Weinstein – the man we now know has had 82 women make sexual allegations against him and is a convicted rapist. 

But this movie isn’t about Harvey. This movie is about Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two journalists at the New York Times. These women were determined and worked fastidiously to pull the thread and unravel the truth that women were sexually abused while working for and with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax for decades. 

This compelling work drama had me invested – like put-your-phone-down-and-actually-pay-attention invested.

One aspect of the film I loved is that it is a realistic reflection of working mothers. The pacing reminded me of The Firm or other ’80s movies where the man deals with dramatic challenges as a lawyer (or spy/doctor/convict), and their happy spouse/family just exist behind them, but gender swapped. These journalists are mothers and wives who were living happy lives outside of work, had supportive spouses and well-behaved children. Their husbands were carrying the babies and shushing the kids off camera while our protagonists worked long hours on a project that had a significant impact on the world around them. 

The “women supporting women” seen throughout this film felt as though it was written and directed by a woman – which, of course, it was. The movie was directed by Maria Schrader and the script written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, based on the book by Kantor and Twohey, and truly you can tell. There isn’t competition between Kantor and Twohey; they collaborate. Their boss is not a “Miranda Priestly” diva, but a supportive and hardworking leader. 

The women are not tropes; they are like the women I have known and worked with my whole life.  So often in films women are painted as characters without the human graduations treatment that your average man gets. Too many movies don’t pass the Bechdel Test, and it’s unfortunate that this portrayal of working women is rare.

I must divulge some spoilers, which aren’t really spoilers because this is all technically Old News, and the facts of this story we all watched unfold in real time. The articles that changed the conversation on workplace sexual assault have now been honored with the Pulitzer Prize and are a part of our cultural history.

But, the movie is still worth a watch, because how soon we forget. 

Laura Madden is truly a badass, and her scene had me googling her name to learn everything about this woman who supported her friend, filed her complaints, kept documentation, and went on record calling out the problems she witnessed. 

When Ashley Judd agreed to go on record, I actually shed tears. The courage it took for her to step forward is immense, and I think I had taken for granted what it took for her to put her name down on record and name herself as someone who had been sexually assaulted. I am impressed anew by her and Zelda Perkins and Rose McGowan and every woman who held Weinstein to account.

Really, I loved this movie. It felt like an empowering reminder of how far we’ve come. It is well acted throughout and just well done. I will say, it did feel a little long – my sister fell asleep – but overall I would recommend. I read all of these articles as they were published and followed all of the news stories exposing abusers everywhere. Honestly, I had forgotten many of the details. I had heard of Jodi Kantor but not Megan Twohey, and I’m glad I know more about their lives and contribution to ending Weinstein’s abuse.

Watch She Said, and let’s all remember the men we no longer need to tolerate and the courage it takes to call out someone who is wrong. #MeToo came and went but let’s not forget those who put their names and lives on the line to tell their truths. Abuse of power in any workplace is unacceptable.

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