Understanding the #MeToo Movement: Here are the Facts

What Is the #MeToo Movement?

In October 2017, the hashtag "MeToo" made international headlines. This hashtag was used to start a conversation about women’s sexual abuse and harassment and to demonstrate the extent to which it occurs in our society. Since then, this platform has been used to spread awareness, encourage women to come forward with their own experiences of sexual violence, demand accountability, and challenge workplace, legal, and political structures that allow for abuse of power.

How Was the #MeToo Movement Established?

The #MeToo Movement was first established by American activist Tarana Burke in 2006. After dealing with her own experience of sexual violence, Tarana realized that survivors needed better support, funding, and resources, particularly young women of colour in low-income communities.

In 2017, #MeToo gained traction when over 50 sexual assault allegations were made against American film producer Harvey Weinstein. On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano used #MeToo on twitter, to prompt other women around the world to share their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment. In the first 24 hours, millions of people had used the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media. Due to tremendous involvement in the movement, the Canadian Press named the public conversation of sexual assault and harassment “the story of the year”.

What Resulted From the #MeToo Movement?

A variety of changes resulted from the #MeToo Movement. The following list is not exhaustive, however, the list below does show how the #MeToo Movement created overall positive and necessary changes to the way survivors are viewed and treated in society.

  • The #MeToo Movement and Weinstein allegations resulted in the creation of the TIMES UP Legal Defense Fund which serves to create safe workplaces, equity among all people, and disrupt abusive power systems.

  • The AFTERMETOO Movement was created by actresses Mia Kirshner and Freya Ravensbergen and film producer Aisling Chin-Yee, which serves to activate change against sexual violence and addresses the increased demand for sexual violence support services across Canada.

  • The #MeToo Movement has made it easier for some women to share their stories and has increased their confidence that they will be believed.

  • The number of survivor allegations have increased on a national and regional level. Between 2016 and 2017, Statistics Canada noted a 13% increase in police reports of sexual assault in Canada.

  • Bill C-65, the federal anti-harassment and violence legislation was fast-tracked and passed by the House and the Senate with the goal to keep Canadian workers safe. The Canadian government has also increased their budget to prevent workplace and gender based violence.

  • The increased focus on sexual assault has prompted employers to re-evaluate and improve their sexual harassment policies.

Overall, the #MeToo Movement has brought to light the extent of sexual harassment around the world and has helped demonstrate that long-term change is required in order to adequately provide support and justice for survivors of sexual harassment and assault. It is clear that existing processes and protocols do not adequately serve survivors of abuse, however, by continuing the conversation, we are getting closer to a world where survivors are heard, supported, and given the justice they deserve. For more information, resources, and ways to get involved, go to https://metoomvmt.org/

Written By: Jasper