5 years on, key #MeToo voices take stock of the movement
When two people of different genders came together in a hotel lobby in mid-October to share stories about their experiences of sexual harassment, the reaction from the audience — in a room made especially tense by the presence of two women who had come to speak about their experiences — was swift and furious. The men were told to “shut up” about the allegations against their alleged aggressors, while the women were admonished to “stop whining.”
What followed was a series of powerful, personal reflections by women of all ages. As women of color were speaking up about the power dynamics in the room, the men began to talk back. They were told that the women were being “pussywhipped” and were “suspect” after allegations that they had committed “grope rape.”
The women were silenced and humiliated, and those who had spoken up — from actresses Asia Argento to comedians Leslie Jones to the founders of #MeToo — were also forced to defend and support each other, and to accept and validate the actions of men who had broken the law and hurt women.
As the #MeToo movement becomes increasingly larger, this was the final showdown in the debate: How do you reckon with sexual harassment and assault that isn’t the focus of the story? What happens when women do speak out — and are silenced, belittled and disrespected by a society that does not believe them?
Over the past six months, the movement has grown and developed, and the stories of the thousands who have come forward have changed minds and changed the conversation. The women who spoke have also created new relationships and shared stories that, for the first time, are open about the way the system devalues and devalued their experiences as women. But what happens when those stories are treated as hearsay or hearsay? What happens when the women have to start from zero and rebuild their own