One year ago today, The New York Times published its article about movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault and sexual harassment, something that had been going on for years. When, after the article’s publication, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted arguably the most important ‘Me Too’ tweet asking women on Twitter to use #MeToo if they had experienced a similar kind of abuse, it seemed like the world was beginning to shift. The movement took off at high speed, with more and more victims coming forward to tell their story. A new celebrity seemed to be accused of sexual harassment every week, and it seemed as if the #MeToo movement might actually make a change in how we view sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Today, however, the movement seems to have died from the public eye. It’s no longer in the news, doesn’t feature on the front page of The New York Times, and the worldwide conversation it sparked about sexual assault seems to have disappeared. So, what happened?
It might not be front-page news any longer, but the movement still exists.
Sexual assault charities across the world have been coming together as a result of the massive coverage, and working together to continue fighting into the future. Tarana Burke, who founded the ‘Me Too’ movement in 2006, is quoted as saying: “Before MeToo went viral…there were scores of organisations and advocates around the country who have been working for systemic change.
“Folks who have been on the battlefield for a long time are emboldened and ramped up because we have new advocates, we have new allies.”
The movement has encouraged women to work together and lift each other up, especially in workplaces and industries. For example, 150 farm and domestic workers travelled to Washington DC in April this year, advocating as one for the outlaw of sexual harassment to cover not only them but others originally left out of the law.
Time Up’s Legal Defense Fund is also still helping women to stand up against sexual harassment.
During the height of the movement, the Fund was supported by a number of celebrities alongside the public, and reached an astounding $22 million. The money is still going to good use, administrated by the National Women’s Law Centre. The women’s rights legal organisation is using the money to establish a network of lawyers and PR professionals who will work to provide assistance to those who need it; and it has worked, with numerous women benefitting from the fund, such as the McDonald’s employees who sued the company for harassment in May.
At the same time, the movement has begun to address the gender pay gap.
Earlier this year, a group of British Members of Parliament started the online campaign ‘#PayMeToo’ advocating for equal pay with male co-workers. Led by the Labour MP Stella Creasy, it helps give advice to women about tackling the gender pay gap. Earlier this year, all UK companies with more than 250 employees had to publish their Gender Pay Gap, marking a huge step forward raising awareness of the issue and bringing to light the companies ignoring the 2010 Equality Act, which states that it is against the law to pay people who perform the same job differently because of their gender.
The movement has also helped to fund community organisations.
While the Harvey Weinstein scandal was by no means the beginning of the fight against sexual harassment, it has helped to raise awareness and provide funds for smaller community charities across the country.
Tarana Burke described the movement as a “blessing”, saying: “It has given me the largest platform I’ve ever had in my life to be able to talk about survivors of sexual violence, to be able to talk about the reality of sexual violence.” She has started a fund for community services herself.
#MeToo may look as though it’s died down, but it is still working hard behind the public eye.
And although it’s making progress on the sexual violence front, the public still need to support the movement in any way they can – from keeping the conversation going on social media to helping to fund the organisations behind it.