Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the company he co-founded. Matt Lauer is gone from NBC. Mario Batali has stepped away from his restaurants.
What was striking about putting together a list of people who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct in recent months was not necessarily the prevalence of the problem — unfortunately, women and gender-nonconforming people have long been aware of the sheer ubiquity of sexual harassment and violence. What was surprising — what felt new about this time in American history — was that of 105 people Vox included on the list, more than 50 have faced legal or professional consequences, from job suspensions to jail time. It’s too soon to tell what the long-term impact of #MeToo will be, but in a number of individual cases, it has produced swift action.
And yet perhaps the most powerful man on the list — President Donald Trump — so far has avoided any consequences at all.
Trump has been accused of sexual harassment, assault, or other misconduct by more than a dozen women, and has been caught on tape bragging that “when you’re a star,” women let you “grab ’em by the pussy.” Despite all this, he remains the country’s chief executive and commander-in-chief, and his press secretary has brushed aside the allegations against him by saying, “the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump.”
There are many reasons Trump hasn’t faced the same consequences as Weinstein and others, starting with the fact that Republicans in Congress — and voters — chose to support him despite women’s reports that he had harassed or assaulted them. Members of Congress criticized him, and a few even withdrew their endorsements, but House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ultimately stayed behind him, just as they do today.
It’s possible that this support could ebb. Trump’s lawyers are fighting a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, who says Trump kissed and touched her without her consent in 2007 — her lawyers have subpoenaed all Trump campaign documents relating to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” If that suit makes it to the discovery phase, the American people could learn a lot more about the allegations against Trump.
Meanwhile, several women who say Trump harassed or assaulted them are calling for a congressional investigation into his behavior. They have been joined in their call by a group of Democrats in the House. “The #MeToo movement has arrived and sexual abuse will not be tolerated, whether it’s by a Hollywood producer, the chef of a restaurant, a member of Congress or the president of the United States,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) earlier this month. “No man or woman is above the law.”
For now, though, the reckoning that began when Bill O’Reilly was forced out at Fox News and accelerated enormously when the revelations about Weinstein broke has left many behind. It has yet to offer much visibility to women of color in low-wage jobs — many of whom, as Vox’s P.R. Lockhart notes, face multiple barriers to reporting harassment. And it has yet to require any accountability of the man who once bragged about his ability to grab women’s genitals, and who today holds power over many aspects of women’s lives.
The coming year will almost surely bring more reports of harassment and assault, more names for the list. Whether it brings real consequences for one of the most boldface names remains to be seen.