#MeToo movement is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It went viral in October 2017 as a hashtag on social media strives to encourage women from all over the world to speak up about harassment and sexual violence. Over half a million women have tweeted Me Too on Twitter. The movement was formed in 2006 by Tarana Burke to help survivors of sexual violence, especially black females as well as other underprivileged young women of colour, find pathways to recover.
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The #MeToo began viral after a Hollywood actress, Alyssa Milano spoke up. She urged women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to speak out and post “Me Too” to show the immensity of sexual assault following accusations of sexual misconduct including rape made by over 70 women against famous Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the women who have spoken out about being harassed or raped from the producer. Thus, the MeToo hashtag is used to show support towards women and to disclose their own abuse stories too.
In February 2020, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison. He was found guilty of committing a first-degree sexual act against production assistant Miriam Harley in 2006 and of third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013.
Individuals who came forward to reveal that they had been the victim of abuse are called ‘The Silence Breakers’. Following Weinstein’s conviction, the group has released a statement stating that “Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist. He is going to jail but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused.”
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Me Too movement left its mark at the Cannes Film Festival 2018. Cate Blanchett led 82 actresses, producers, and directors who marched on the red carpet protest to demand equal pay and an end to sexual harassment. The festival distributed 40,000 flyers to guests to remind that sexual harassment is punishable in France by three years in prison and a £40,000 fine. The movement received support from Hollywood actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Salma Hayek and Reese Witherspoon. As prominent figures, their voices are crucial to bringing attention to the movement.
Me Too founder Tarana Burke, reflecting on the movement which rose to prominence following the revelations of Weinstein allegations in 2017 describes the last two years as “incredibly significant”. Her impact has inspired others. Women in Hollywood including Shonda Rhimes, Natalie Portman and Kerry Washington among many others, started a group known as Time’s Up. The group is dedicated to fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and beyond. The group credits Burke for being one of its founding aspirations.