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ME TOO – This is a Shift of Narrative

ME TOO – An update on the movement’s news today.

#MeToo: the latest step in a centuries long political struggle for women to simply control our own bodies.

Alyssa Milano wrote a post on Twitter: “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘Me Too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Within 20 minutes, the post had 10,000 replies. By November #MeToo had been tweeted over 2.5 million times and in over 90 different countries

A year on from the high profile allegations made on Harvey Weinstein and the #Metoo movement is rising up through the use of the hashtag on social media platforms, internationally used. From its origins in the US, the impact of the movement spread rapidly, with millions of women around the world sharing their own stories of rape, assault and harassment in the workplace. Most cases will never meet the public eye in the way the Weinstein scandal did, with famous faces coming forward day after day to deliver lurid and disturbing details of the director’s alleged predatory behaviour. But a glance at local media reports reveals that almost every country in the world has had its own #MeToo moment: From Britain’s Westminster scandal to “Australia’s Weinstein” Don Burke and journalist Shiori Ito’s unprecedented public discussion about her alleged rapist in Japan, #MeToo has provided an opening in the Japanese media to discuss sexual harassment and assault. The hashtag and movement has reverberated across the world.In Spain it became #YoTambien, in France it became #BalanceTonPorc, roughly translated as “expose your pig”; in Italy #quellavoltache (“That Time When”). In Israel, a Hebrew phrase translated as “Us Too”. This never would have happened if the Hollywood stars didn’t make the movement bigger with use of the hashtag making rapid movements globally via social media. Expansion has only encouraged more women to speak up.

As a viral campaign, part of the success of #MeToo was to do with how deeply personal it felt. Within days our social media feeds were flooded with friends and family members adding their stories. “Of course, me too,” a friend added simply on Facebook, neatly summarising the depressing inevitability that she too had experienced sexual harassment. Surprise was the stance men took: “I knew it happened, but I had no idea it was this bad” was a common phrase.

Tracey Spicer said online networks had “changed everything. “Almost all of the whistleblowers who’ve approached me do so via Twitter (direct message) or Facebook (private message) before a phone or email conversation,” she said. “Our personal devices are such an intimate part of our lives, these women feel comfortable using social mediums – at any time of the day or night – to share details about these experiences. And it’s easy to connect with other alleged victims. For example, in the Don Burke case, the first whistleblower was able to easily connect me with two women in the US.”

Map of world, with hashtag progression.

The influx of celebrities

The women who initially kicked started the Hollywood influx of the #MeToo hashtag at the 19th annual Golden Globes were; Actor Michelle Williams, actor America Ferrera, actor Jessica Chastain, actor Amy Poehler, actor Meryl Streep, actor Kerry Washington, actor Natalie Portman, activist Ai-jen Poo, and activist Saru Jayaraman.

Countless celebrities wore all black to the Bafta Awards to commemorate the movement and to stand in solidarity with the women who have come forward with #MeToo. The movement also perpetrated the Brit Awards, The Baftas and The Grammies where almost all attending celebrities wore a white rose and dressed all in black and wore a black pin saying ‘TIMES UP‘ to raise awareness for the #MeToo campaign and help raise funds for the movement.

Nicole Kidman publicly spoke directly to the women speaking out about sexual harassment whilst in the workplace: “I believe you.” Kidman’s appearance in ‘Big Little Lies’ released eight months before allegations against Producer Weinstein were published in The New York Times. The progression of the #Metoo movement coincided with the production of the series and women speaking up about sexual harassment.

Lady Gaga said that sexual harassment in the music business was ‘the rule, not the exception’ when she started in the industry. Gaga was 19 when she suffered sexual assault she said she spoke up about it at the time but the “boys club” culture that was carried by producers meant her allegations weren’t taken to justice. She said;

 “What I hope is that these conversations come together — that it’s not just about equal pay on one side… or equal billing over here… and then assault on this side. But that it all comes together and that this movement is all of those things.”

Following the most recent scandal of R-Kelly within the documentary Surviving R-Kelly the artist is finally under investigation following the many allegations of rape, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and indecency. R-Kelly is a man who, for years, has rested on the laurels of his almost 30-year reign in the music industry and his pull with the black community in particular. Kelly has almost been untouchable up until this point, even with allegations of running a sex cult full of teenage women, his lengthy child pornography trial, his marriage to the then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah, even name-checking her on his 1991 debut single “She’s Got That Vibe”, a song about sexual attraction to a slew of women.

Kelly himself has vehemently denied all allegations against him. It’s not yet clear what this investigation, perhaps the biggest threat to his career in years, will yield. But I can’t help but feel hope that, thanks largely because of black women themselves (as usual), this could be the beginning of the end of the reign of the former king of R&B.

The industry unfortunately has a long way to go in terms of completely obliterating sexual harassment and inequality. Although the movement has ensured justice for those who have endured such horrific assaults and injustices.

To find out more about the recent happenings with the movement follow my Twitter feed = >

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