Origins and worldwide influence
On 5th of October, 2017, the New York Times published an article in which actress Ashley Judd accused prominent American film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. She was joined in her accusations by other actresses and former Weinstein Company employees, who had had similar experiences with Weinstein.
Five days later, a New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow was published, recounting the stories of 13 more women who described being harassed or assaulted by Weinstein. The articles, and other accusations which followed them, exposed Weinstein’s systematic abuse of women in the entertainment industry, which allegedly took place for decades.
On 16th of October, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women on Twitter to use the hashtag #MeToo if they had also been sexually harassed or assaulted. The term was inspired by activist Tarana Burke, who used the phrase “Me Too” for the first time in 2006, in a campaign meant to reach underprivileged girls who had experienced sexual abuse. Burke recalled in a New York Times article that the phrase came to her in 1997, after hearing a 13-year-old’s sexual abuse story at a youth camp, and feeling unable to share her own story at that moment.
The #MeToo hashtag became viral and turned into an international phenomenon, with women from other countries either adopting the term directly or translating it into their own language. #MeToo became #Ana_kaman in Arab countries, #YoTambien in Spanish speaking countries, #BalanceTonPorc (“expose your pig”) in France, etc. Women around the world shared their own experiences of rape, assault, and harassment. Not just in the workplace, but also in other social situations or in close relationships. Sometimes, they simply shared the hashtag by itself, as a simple but powerful attestation of how common sexual assault is.
Aftermath of the Weinstein accusations
After being accused of sexually harassing and abusing women in the entertainment industry, Harvey Weinstein issued a statement meant to provide a public apology to his victims.
However, the statement was heavily criticised, as many thought the statement sought to justify Weinstein’s behaviour rather than make amends for it. This was because Weinstein attributed his behaviour to growing up in the 1960s, when rules about workplace behaviour were different. His statement implied that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong; moreove...