MeToo Movement: Five Years On, How A Hashtag Shook The World


France: By forcing the world to wake up to the daily sexual abuse suffered by women, the #MeToo movement became a social revolution of historic importance. Its legacy is still being determined.

It began with a tweet: on October 15, 2017, US actor Alyssa Milano invited women to share their experiences of sexual harassment under the words “Me too”.

Within a year, the hashtag had been used more than 19 million times, according to Pew Research Center – pushing the issue of sexual assault to the top of the global agenda.

Of course, the movement sat on the shoulders of decades of feminist struggle – even the phrase “Me Too” was a decade old, created by activist Tarana Burke for a charity aimed at survivors of abuse.

It caught fire in the wake of an explosive New York Times investigation about film producer Harvey Weinstein who, it transpired, had for years been raping and assaulting women, many in the industry, and getting away with it.

A reckoning came for many powerful figures in the entertainment industry.

Kevin Spacey was dropped from “House of Cards” and Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” was reshot to replace him with another actor.

The heads of Amazon Studios, Fox News, CBS and Vox Media were forced out.

Actor James Franco, opera singer Placido Domingo, comedian Louis C.K., fashion photographer Terry Richardson, celebrity chef Mario Batali – barely a week went by without another illustrious name being shamed.

The most serious allegations led to jail time for previously untouchable figures: Bill Cosby, once considered “America’s dad”, singer R. Kelly, and the ultra-connected financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The pressure spread beyond the entertainment business to embroil politicians, sports stars and major tech firms such as Google and Uber.