#MeToo: How one tweet shook up the world

“If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” This is the tweet Alyssa Milano, actress and activist, posted on the 15th October 2017. Inspired by the message of activist Tarana Burke, who came up with the slogan. Milano was unprepared for the many reactions how the hashtag would take over the world. The tweet might be considered as the start of a new feminist wave. Women and men shared their experience with sexual abuse on social media and powerful people were accused of harassment. One of these powerful people that was accused, is Harvey Weinstein. On 6 January, Weinstein’s trial started in New York. The 67-year old was accused by over hundred women of sexual abuse, but his trial is only focused on the rape of two of those women. The impact of #MeToo is undeniable, especially in the United States the hashtag proved its importance. Sexual abuse goes much further than only Hollywood.

One of the major changes, due to #MeToo, is the introduction of protections for those who are self-employed, from actors to farmworkers, from cleaners to makeup artist. Those who work for employers with fewer than 15 employees are often women of colour. When these workers are harassed they have nowhere to turn. 

Thanks to the hashtag, New York expanded its sexual harassment law to cover independent contractors and improved protections for domestic workers. Furthermore, California broadened its law to offer protections for people harassed in business relationships.  

#MeToo also showed how much sexual abuse goes unpunished. The hashtag encouraged organizations to start up and help the survivor. One group of women started the organizations Time’s Up and they created a fund to help victims in low wage industries to get legal representation. Since the fund launched in January 2018, it has raised $24 million and connected over 3500 people with attorneys to pursue legal action. One person who got help through the fund is Brittany Hoyos, who claims an older co-worker at her workplace began making unwanted advances towards her when she was just 16 years old. Despite the fact that she refused, he began spreading rumours telling the opposite story about her at work, and in the end, it was Hoyos who got fired. Hoyos stated in the New York Times: “Just because you’re going through a lower job in society’s eyes, that doesn’t mean you should have to go through the obstacles and challenges that I did.”

Maybe one of the most important changes caused by #MeToo is that people around the world are now seeing how widespread sexual harassment and assault is. Survivors learned, as more and more victims spoke out, that they were not alone. A survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research showed how Americans respond to the movement. The polls find American workers view the #MeToo movement more favourably than unfavourably. More than half of the women had a favourable opinion, compared with 4 in 10 men; just over 3 in 10 men view the movement unfavourably. 

There is much to say about the #MeToo movement until this day it is still receiving criticism worldwide from working-class people to people in power. But from the changes in federal law to creating funds to help survivors proves the impact of #MeToo is undeniable.

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