On October 15, actress Alyssa Milano urged people who had experienced sexual harassment or assault to share the hashtag “metoo” in the hope that it may help people understand “the magnitude of the problem”.
Within 24 hours, Facebook reported that there had been more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions by 4.7 million people around the world. On Twitter, 1.7 million engaged with the hashtag in a matter of days.
Milano’s call-out struck a nerve with women in the wake of the sexual assault allegations levelled at heavyweight Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. At last, a man of substantial influence and wealth, was being held to account for his behaviour. At last, after decades – no, centuries – of denials, dismissals and even persecution, the accusers were the ones wielding the power.
But that online uprising, and the swell of bravery and push for accountability that came with it, probably wouldn’t have happened were not for President Donald Trump.
Listen: Holly, Mia and Jessie talk about why the #MeToo TIME cover was so important and how we couldn’t have the reckoning without Trump. Post continues below…
This was a man who was accused of sexual assault by no less than 10 women in the lead up to his election last November. A man who said his wealth and influence meant he could touch women’s genitals without their consent: “You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.” A man who
Yet on January 20, the world watched as this billionaire real-estate mogul (turned reality television host turned Republican presidential candidate) was sworn into the most powerful office in the western world. There, behind the Resolute desk, he was shielded by his station, even more untouchable than before.
That stirred something deep within in a lot of people; women especially, and sexual assault survivors even more so.
As Mia Freedman put it on Mamamia Out Loud this week, “there’s this visceral anger and fury and rage that’s been unleashed in women after Donald Trump was elected, that wouldn’t have been there if Hillary Clinton was.”
Listen to the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud…
Of course, the person we really ought to thank for #metoo aren’t behind the towering black fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
They are Tarana Burke, the activist who coined the slogan 10 years ago for African American sexual assault victims. Alyssa Milano, who reinvigorated it for 2017. Ashley Judd, Kate Beckinsale, and the more than 50 other women who came forward against Harvey Weinstein. The millions more who shared their stories with the world.
And of course, those who accused and exposed a future President, and sparked a fire in us all.