Allegations of sexual harassment, assault and inappropriate behaviour recently came out against famed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Actresses like Rose McGowan, Lupita Ngong’o, Molly Ringwald, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and more spoke out about their experiences with Weinstein leading to Weinstein being stripped of his CEO position in The Weinstein Company and being expelled from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The #METOO movement was another result of the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Alyssa Milano tweeted the following: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
What occurred afterwards was a mass movement on social media of people all over the world posting the #METOO onto Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It was intended to bring light to the extent of sexual harassment and assault in the world, showing us all how many people have been hurt. The solidarity between us all was overwhelming. Some chose to actually tell their stories, as a form of catharsis, while others chose not to provide details of their trauma beyond admitting that it had happened.
Shortly after the movement started, Buzzfeed News reported on the #METOO movement and how it was started ten years ago by a black woman in Philadelphia. Tarana Burke is a “longstanding advocate for sexual assault victims” and started the campaign to help sexual assault survivors in minority and marginalised areas of the city.
“It started off as a community campaign… because a lot of times we take it for granted whether people even know they survived a thing,” she said, explaining the roots of her campaign to Buzzfeed News.
It’s a great campaign and it is great that Buzzfeed News and other members of the media wanted to make sure we all knew how the #METOO movement came about, particularly in the age of Twitter activism and white feminism.
Of course, there were problems with the #METOO movement, as with many others. It placed responsibility on the victims rather than the perpetrators, urging women to step forward and speak out rather than forcing those committing these acts of depravity to own up to their actions. There were also concerns raised over the traumatising nature of seeing people’s sexual assault stories all over social media, possibly contributing to survivors’ post-traumatic stress. In addition, many were worried about the so-called ’24-hour news cycle’ and how it could become tokenistic if we weren’t careful. Thankfully, the allegations have not been swept under the rug and the conversation surrounding sexual harassment and assault has continued on.
Despite these issues, which are very prominent and poignant concerns, I loved this movement and I really enjoyed the solidarity that came out of it. It has since spurred on movements to protect victims from the perpetrators and to hopefully stop sexual harassment and assault in the future. One such movement concerned people experiencing it in the media. The Second Source is a newly created group, set up by leading female journalists, that is working to stop sexual harassment in the media and inform people of their rights in cases of harassment and assault, in England specifically. The group has cross-party political support and is backed by leading political figures like Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, and Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.
It is wonderful that people are standing up and allying with each other, making sure to bring light to these situations and stop them from happening again. The #METOO movement was immediately seceded by the #IHEARYOU movement, where people (mostly men) tweeted #IHEARYOU in order to show the victims that they are being listened to. It was also used to show that their pain and trauma won’t simply be erased in a world that usually favours the word of the predator in question, particularly when that predator is in a position of power.
After the Harvey Weinstein allegations, there have now been many other public figures who “have been accused of sexual misconduct”. These have included famed comedian Louis C.K, Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick, House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck and several more. It is heartbreaking to know that people are having to work in industries where they are not being treated right and aren’t listened to when they speak up – thankfully we’re listening now.
Anthony Rapp’s statement against Spacey, wherein Rapp alleged that Spacey climbed on top of him on a bed when Rapp was only 14, Netflix have since announced they will definitely cancel House of Cards after Season Six and may try to find a way to remove Kevin Spacey’s character from the narrative entirely.
People need to start taking responsibility for their horrific actions and we all need to continue doing what we’re doing: standing together and allying with survivors of sexual harassment and assault, making sure that their experiences aren’t just pushed aside.