A Night With Jodi Kantor

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Jodi Kantor is an American investigative journalist who most recently won a Pulitzer-prize in 2018 for her public service with partner Meghan Twohey. Kantor is one of the two women to break the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations revealing Weinstein’s true character. A domino effect had sparked and women around the world started sharing their stories of sexual harassment that they had previously buried in the depths of their past.

 

Kantor and Twohey tirelessly interviewed women and listened to the stories they were now ready to tell. Kantor explained to us that interviewing these women was similar to a surgical procedure; if done correctly and with great vigilance, the outcome would result in success, but if done insensitively, there would be no outcome at all.

 

These women were putting their lives on the line and it was a lot for Kantor and her partner to ask of women who didn’t have much to start off with. Kantor explained that it wasn’t fair what they were asking these women to do and nothing would make it fair. They were cleaning up a mess and spreading a message that they shouldn’t have had to deal with in the first place. After all the pain and trauma, they had already experienced asking them to share intimate details about an event they wanted to forget about was difficult. Many of these women with great bravery were willing to share their stories because they knew the cycle would continue, if not. Kantor told us whenever they asked, “What are we getting out of this? What will happen to my career and my family?” She would reply with this, “There is a power that comes with telling your story. It can’t change the way it happened, but it can rewrite history and be donated to public good.”

 

Kantor couldn’t promise anything to these women, but that their stories would be heard and their silence would end. Many women find telling their stories to be healing in a time where they feel isolated. Silence will eventually control you, but you have the power to control it.

 

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Kantor explained that we are living in a new revolution of sorts. Women are speaking up! Something so foreign to those who were regularly groped in the workplace and it was normalized to the point where people didn’t see it as problematic. As older women read these allegations from years ago finally coming out, they dig deep inside and also find the strength within themselves to find their own truth. “We look back at the contour of our lives and asses the last 40, 50, 60 years after all these allegations,” commented Kantor. We come together in reflection and discuss the behavior that was not only accepted in social situations, but that was encouraged and then later covered up.

 

Kantor and her partner were followed by people hired by Weinstein in order to track who they were talking to and what kind of information was slowly coming to light. Harvey Weinstein didn’t even know how many secretive settlements he had made throughout the years because he simply lost track. There is a total of eight women as of right now that have collected between $80,000 and $150,000 EACH. The saddest part about these secretive hush money settlements came down to Weinstein continuing to act this way and the group of people around him that helped him cover up his tracks along the way. No one stood up and said this is wrong, but everyone sat down and said how are we going to make this go away.

 

While Kantor was up on the stage explaining to us her trials and tribulations, I wondered to myself how scared she must have been and what kind of risk she was putting herself in, but that’s the business of reporting. That is what journalists do, they report the facts and make the public aware of what’s happening around them. “Confronting the powerful is why we got up in the morning, it was the women we were scared for,” said Kantor. She explained that she was putting almost nothing on the line compared to the women who were willing to share their stories. All they were doing was giving them a platform and nothing more. Readers are the true heroics because as writers you do your job by informing the public about the truth, but it is how readers react that makes a change like #metoo. She left us with one piece of advice as a writer, a mother, a daughter, and a wife, “Private pain can be turned into collective strength.” Change will never be if we can’t share our mistakes for the benefit of other’s lessons.

 

Images provided by the author.