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Cass R. Sunstein

Harvey Weinstein and the End of Self-Silencing

As the #MeToo movement shows, changing social norms can expose injustice. But in other situations, the opposite can occur.
Will social upheaval follow?

Will social upheaval follow?

Photographer: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

The continuing revelations about Harvey Weinstein tell us something important about sexual harassment and sexual violence, and also about civil-rights movements and social change more broadly.

In brief: Because of social norms, people often shut up. Even if they are humiliated, hurt or angry, they will not say a word. It is only when norms start to shift that people feel free to disclose what they have experienced, and to say what they think.