WE WERE PLEASED TO SEE Nicole Arthur lampoon director Barry Levinson’s new film, Disclosure (Film, 12/9/94), rather than buying into its glossy portrayal of workplace sexual harassment, as film critics in the Washington Post and other mainstream media have done. We applaud Arthur for drawing attention to Disclosure‘s dated suppositions about sexual harassment.
One of the film’s strong women characters states that “sexual harassment is not about sex. It’s about power.” However, the film’s treatment of the subject completely belies this statement, providing a glamorized view of sexual harassment as an act of seduction, with Michael Douglas confused by his attraction to his harasser. Popular mythology often blames women for bringing sexual harassment on themselves through dress or behavior. Disclosure casts Demi Moore as a sexual aggressor in mile-high heels who trumps up harassment charges as a form of corporate gamesmanship. Although the film tries to show some positive examples of women in power positions, the old stereotypes undercut these attempts to be evenhanded.
Considering all the real-life stories of women and men who’ve fought back against harassment, it’s a sad commentary that the first major film on the subject falls into such clichés and plays upon men’s insecurities.
Members, Sexual Harassment Task Force, Capitol Hill Women’s Political Caucus, Capitol Hill