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‘I’m not making trouble. I’m making progress’

With all of the revelations of sexual misconduct and the toppling of famous directors, actors and anchors, one would think that it’s easier to come forward and speak out. Nope, says Nell Scovell. The veteran TV writer and creator offers her humble opinion on why our culture discourages people standing up for themselves, and how men can help.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meantime, Hollywood writer Nell Scovell talks about the culture of harassment that has plagued her industry.

    Tonight, she shares tonight she shares her Humble Opinion on why it’s still so hard for women to speak out.

  • Nell Scovell:

    Oh, yes, me, too.

    Recently, I shared my story about being sexually manipulated by a boss when I was just starting my career as a TV comedy writer. I was in my 20s. He was in his 40s. Now I’m in my 50s.

    Three decades later, going public has stirred up a lot of fresh emotions. But when a friend recently asked me, aren’t you happy about the MeToo movement, I was thrown. Happy?

    Of course I feel relief and satisfaction that women who can are raising our voices and naming names.

    But happiness doesn’t really factor into this. With all the toppling of famous directors, actors and anchors, you may think it’s become easier to speak out about this.

    Nope. Hollywood is still a place where if a powerful person behaves inappropriately, and you call them on it, you run the risk of paying the price, which reminds me of an old Jewish joke.

    There’s a terrible pogrom in the shtetl. All the villagers are rounded up by the Cossacks and lined up against a wall for the firing squad.

    The rifles are cocked, and the head Cossack says, before we open fire, does anyone have any last requests?

    One of the villagers raises his hand timidly and says, as a matter of fact, I do.

    His neighbor leans over and whispers, shh, don’t make trouble.

    We’re conditioned to see the world through the eyes of the people in power even when our backs are up against a wall.

    By standing up for ourselves, somehow we get branded as the troublemakers.

    Shh. We’re not.

    Writer Zora Neale Hurston observed, “If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

    As difficult and as awkward as speaking out can be, those who can should. It’s our responsibility to so many who must remain silent.

    And I don’t agree with people who say that it’s time for male colleagues to shut up and listen. Just the opposite. We need men to add their voices to ours. They can also help by sharing salary information and telling us about job opportunities. They can hire women and promote them.

    And the next time a woman makes a request and someone whispers, shh, don’t make trouble, I hope she tells them, I’m not making trouble. I’m making progress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Hollywood writer Nell Scovell.

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