‘She Said’: How Do We Watch Movies After #MeToo?


JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures

Director Maria Schrader, Carey Mulligan, and Zoe Kazan for “She Said”

Nearly three years after Harvey Weinstein’s initial conviction in February 2020, the Clara Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles found itself mirroring the proceedings of the New York courthouse that delivered the initial blows to the disgraced film mogul. Weinstein’s 2022 trial—on similar charges as the sexual assaults that he was convicted of in New York—is unmistakably symbolic, returning Weinstein to the courts and to national headlines even though he has already been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Since the initial hearings, dozens of women have spoken up against him, igniting the now-household name of the #MeToo movement. As the court dismissed for deliberations on November 18, 2022, Judge Lisa B. Lench employed a singular line of bias prevention to the bench: None of the jurors were to watch the trailer for Maria Schrader’s film, “She Said.”

An adaptation of the 2019 book of the same name, the semi-biographical drama follows New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (played by Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan) as they bravely report, write and publish the initial article detailing abuse allegations against Weinstein. At its most gripping, the film features several of his victims recounting their ordeal, while Weinstein hardly appears throughout the feature, only justifying his presence through passing scenes and snippets of dialogue (voiced by Mike Houston).

The lack of Weinstein’s appearance in the film is evident from the title card: the phrase “he said, she said,” a slogan meant to dismiss female narratives, reworked to one that centers on them entirely.

Co-head of Latin’s Intersectional Feminist Alliance (IFA) and senior Megan Riordan weighed in on the film industry’s shift to include female-driven perspectives. “It’s empowering to be able to see yourself in the media,” Megan said. “As it says in the name, a large part of IFA is the piece of intersectionality: Seeing female-driven stories that include different perspectives such as race, class, ability, and other circumstances is powerful.”

“She Said” was released shortly after “Tár,” a deliberate drama on a disgraced musician, and before “Women Talking,” the aftermath of the serial abuse that occurred on a religious colony—posing it among 2022’s most compelling films on themes of sexual abuse. Despite the range from feature to feature, “Women Talking” exposes the gendered language of violence and revenge, while “Tár” circumvents the role of a man entirely. All three explore unchecked dealings of power that the screen often misdirects.

While sexual abuse is not an exclusively contemporary crisis, sexual education courses have undergone a nationwide renaissance to match the pace of modern media consumption habits. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have been the primary providers of sexual health resources for young adults. The organization, known for its efforts in abortion access, provides lessons on consent, diversity, and media literacy, all while being the targets of the increasingly hostile legislators in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions.

Upper School Latin and sexual education teacher Elissabeth Legendre said, “Latin students are lucky to have any consent programming at all. Illinois is one of only a handful of states that require age-appropriate consent programming in schools.”

She added, “The #MeToo movement prompted conversations about sexual assault and the ways that some people in power were using their power to abuse other people. I think it united a community of survivors and let people know that they weren’t alone, while also revealing to folks who have never experienced sexual violence just how prevalent and harmful it is.”

Movies about the #MeToo movement struggle to exist in any one genre. It’s reductive to call these films dramas, restrictive to call them nonfiction, and plain incorrect to call them historic. Like the political corruption present in the Nixon-age thriller “All the President’s Men” that Schrader drew inspiration from, there is no visible end to the era of abuse, and women’s stories of sexual violence won’t be mere history to future generations unless they’re acknowledged in the present.

“There are so many unreported rapes and unreported sexual assaults and unreported horrible people in the [film] business itself,” freshman Caitlin Creevy said. “I don’t think there will ever be enough headlines in the media bringing light to victims.”