The MeToo movement began in 2006 when Tarana Burke created the phrase, however, it was popularized in 2017 when Alyssa Milano encouraged victims of sexual harassment and assault to speak up on Twitter to increase the magnitude of the campaign. It did exactly that.
In October 2018, a year after Milano started the hashtag, it had been tweeted more than nineteen million times, emphasizing how much impact the movement had on social media.
Allegations against Harvey Weinstein in October 2017 were one of the first to come out of this revival of the #MeToo movement, creating an uproar amongst the Hollywood and entertainment crowd. It gained momentum as celebrities started to tweet about their experiences or simply used the hashtag #MeToo, indicating that they, too, were victims of sexual harassment.
During the award season of 2018, similarly, celebrities in the masses all wore black to show their solidarity to those victims of sexual assault, in particular those who were victimized by men in positions of power, such as Harvey Weinstein, as well as Kevin Spacey, R. Kelly and Donald Trump.
Although this got the word out about #MeToo to a higher level and increased its significance in 2018, it still did not change the fact that so many people in power had violated others and it had not particularly impacted their career or their status at all. This is why Weinstein being found guilty is so influential in the battle against sexual harassment and is so significant for the #MeToo movement.
In February 2020, Weinstein was found guilty with third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act. Although he has been accused by more than eighty women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, and only charged for two instances, he still faces up to twenty-five years in prison. Had the jury not acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, Weinstein may have even faced a life sentence. He will face his official sentencing on 11th March.
Although Weinstein was not charged for the majority of the cases that he was accused of, the fact that he is facing a substantial amount of prison time is still a success for the #MeToo movement. When people in power see that there are consequences to their actions, then maybe they will be less likely to commit such acts.
Despite the involvement of celebrities, such as wearing black on the red carpet and tweeting the hashtag, being a step in the right direction when it comes to tackling sexual violence, the guilty verdict of Weinstein accelerates the movement much further. When the accused people are facing their consequences, it is then that we can understand the significance of their actions, and start to believe victims, and try to prove them right instead of trying to prove them wrong. It may also mean that more victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault may come forward, as it can be seen that justice can be served, even when up against such a powerful person and that their voice and their stories do matter.
It is evident that Weinstein being found guilty for third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act is a success for the #MeToo movement, however, there is much more to be done. Weinstein was only one case in the hundreds of people that have been named, and so more action needs to be taken in order for the victims of sexual harassment and assault get their justice that they so greatly deserve, and for the #MeToo movement to change and improve more lives.