How #MeToo Changed Our Lives
Written by Claudia Ugbana // Illustrated by Derek Prince Wilson
It’s been three years since, and the movement shows no signs of slowing
Tarana Burke’s expectations of her activist group and slogan, #MeToo, were exceeded beyond a belief she could ever imagine in 2017. Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano, took to Twitter declaring #MeToo, in a tweet that urged women to unite by using the slogan on their social media platforms. The widely recognized hashtag --previously created in 2006-- gravitated through social media turning Burke’s more private activist group into one of the biggest movements to ever impact our world today.
The #MeToo movement would overtake social media and every other media outlet as a result of one story, published in The New York Times by reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, on the decades of sexual assault committed by Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.
Milano, Burke, Kantor and Twohey, although playing a huge part in its crusade, are not single handedly responsible for the explosion of #MeToo. It was the strength and honesty of the victims, the solidarity of mothers and daughters, teachers, and the media, who have made #MeToo what it is today. Entering its third year, #MeToo is still one of the most trending hashtags used on social media to this day. It is responsible for overall increases of sexual assault articles being published, and has contributed to massive shifts in all industries worldwide. It is a force that has made our world “messy, imperfect, and urgent,” said sexual assault survivor and Hollywood actor Ashley Judd in regards to the movement.
#MeToo wasn't strictly meant for just social media purposes, its intent is about empowerment and confidence building. Prior to its explosion, sexual assault had been a no-go topic of conversation in public spaces. Attached to sexual assault is the idea that women should be ashamed and afraid of their experiences. However, #MeToo has created a massive platform for further discourse that welcomes survivors. Its greatest impact has been its rejection of the toxic behavior we have watched reign over our society for decades. The idea that men can overpower, abuse, and silence women is being ridiculed by the #MeToo movement.
It was the strength and honesty of the victims, the solidarity of mothers and daughters, teachers, and the media, who have made #MeToo what it is today.
#MeToo in the Media
The ‘Year of the Woman’ has been a three-year-running crusade most impactful in politics and media publications. Every major publication across the nation declared this sentiment in 2018, following through with 63 percent of all bylines published in the U.S. belonging to women, according to The Atlantic.
This spanned into countless recounts of high-quality investigative journalism that led to even more exposure of sexual assault crimes committed behind closed doors. Due to the media’s influence, Weinstein is not the only culprit being apprehended for decades of abuse. We are all familiar with household names such as R. Kelly, Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cobsy, who all appear to be going down as well.
The media was not only able to keep #MeToo afloat, but inspired a series of other activist groups and movements. One notably popularized movement is Time’s Up, an organization built within Hollywood with the intent of putting an end to sexual abuse in the industry. This new movement was so positively accepted because it gave the so called “regular” individuals a chance to share their voices with big names in the industry by accompanying these celebrities as their dates to award shows and red carpet events.
Numerous celebrities took the Time’s Up initiative under their wing, joining several activists groups and organizations directed toward sexual assault depletions. The movement also strives to battle hiring discriminations -- not only in entertainment, but in all hiring organizations across the world. Time’s Up calls for equal pay amongst men and women, diversity and inclusivity.
The variance of #MeToo is its accessibility to all individuals of all languages and cultures. Although its origination began in the U.S., #MeToo has expanded to Europe, Asia, Africa and many more places across the globe. Sexual assault isn’t seemingly American, it exists in all places. Pew Research Center reported 29 percent of #MeToo tweets used within its reigning time periods were in multiple languages that weren’t English.
Where do we go from here?
According to Burke, we have all been awakened into “a whole new world,” but the predictions of what’s next for #MeToo is beyond the scope of our imaginations. One thing that seems to be certain is that it’s not going anywhere.
We have seen and can expect to see more court cases and even more convictions, as over 100 men have been charged with allegations of sexual assault specific to #MeToo since 2017-- in and out of the Hollywood industry. With current laws being placed in wake of the movement, we can also expect to see huge changes in workplaces and meeting rooms.
The movement has also transitioned into communal settings, educating and administering aid to those in need. Burke tells media outlets she's been working hard to increase revenue for resources needed for her activist group of the same name. Besides working directly with survivors, the group also helps train counselors across the country to help survivors within their own communities.
Ultimately, we can expect to see more stories with user accounts that mention #MeToo and the horrific accounts of sexual abuse accompanying it. The movement unveiled staggering numbers of women who have been sexually abused worldwide; women who no longer wish to remain quiet.
The famous saying “sometimes something bad has to happen before something good can,” has never been more precise as in the terms of #MeToo. The world has been immersed into a new space unafraid to say “time’s up.”