Jodie Foster doesn’t think Twitter is the way to tackle sexual harassment, and we disagree

The general takeaway from the #MeToo movement and the public accusations against certain men in Hollywood is that people are believing women and taking their stories seriously, which is great. However, as many allegations have been brought to light via social media, Jodie Foster has announced Twitter accusations are “not the right way to go.” We have some thoughts on that, but first, here’s what Foster had to say about the sexual misconduct revelations in an interview with CBS This Morning:

“It is an amazing moment in time and, you know, in order to do it justice, I think we need a bigger dialogue and a much more complicated dialogue,” said Foster. “But this time is necessary and I’m really looking forward to what happens next, like all social justice movements. I think we’re all looking forward to how we can heal, and we want to hear voices. We want to hear the other side as well, in order to really change things. Justice by Twitter is not the right way to go.”

For starters, a lot of the individuals who have come forward can only go to Twitter or social media as a platform to share their sexual harassment stories. Some victims aren’t granted interviews, were not contacted by The New York Times, don’t have the resources to file a civil suit, and therefore their only tangible course of action is to speak publicly on social media. For some sexual harassment cases there is no HR department to turn to. For some sexual assault cases, the victims only find the courage to speak about the situation years after the incident.

Justice by Twitter might be the only way to go for some women.

As for “we want to hear the other side as well,” well, unfortunately, for most sexual harassment cases the only way to “hear” the other side is if the victim files a civil lawsuit. But as we all know, women historically are afraid to make their harassment known for fear of bullying, losing their jobs, or worse. For sexual assault, the only way to “hear the other side” is to contact the police, and we cannot express enough the numerous reasons why people don’t report sexual assault to authorities (not being believed, reliving the trauma all over again, desperately wanting to move on with their lives, fearing public and personal retribution, etc.).

What we think Foster was getting at is that there needs to be a global (in the idea sense) discussion about harassment. Workplaces need better sexual harassment training, and everyone can benefit from empathic judgement-free discussions about what is or isn’t sexual misconduct.