What #MeToo Has Changed for Women…
The #MeToo movement has changed policies across industries, but there’s still work to be done. A year into #MeToo, hotel workers are getting panic buttons, runway models are getting private dressing rooms, and proposed laws are supporting sexual harassment victims. The results of the explosive allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein have transcended Tarana Burke’s #MeToo hashtag to exact real change across every industry, from vulnerable workers in fashion, food and hospitality demanding stronger protections and more support in filing sexual harassment and assault claim, to state legislatures proposing and passing laws to protect victims of sexual harassment and assault.
The Moment #MeToo Exploded
A little more than a year ago, actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write “me too” as a reply to this tweet.” This stemmed from the stories by The New York Times and New Yorker about allegations of sexual assault by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Within twenty-four hours after Milano’s tweet, #MeToo was retweeted more than 500,000 on Twitter and over 12 million times on Facebook. Facebook reported that within the USA, where the movement started, over 45% of people know at least one person that used the hashtag. Although there are changes being made around the world when it comes to sexual harassment, we still remain deeply divided about how to respond to sexual assault and all forms of gender-based violence.
A survey done by YouGov on behalf of The Economist on September 2018 shows a small but clear shift against victims. In less than one year, the percentage of adults in the US who agree that men who sexually harassed women at work 20 years ago should keep their jobs increased from 28% to 36%.
#MeToo Does Not Discriminate
Activist Tarana Burke created #MeToo in 2006 to build a conversation around sexual violence, especially among young women of color. However, we must keep in mind that sexual harassers do not discriminate. Women and men of all sizes, races and gender identities are vulnerable. It is important that women and men come together to embrace a message of transparency, accountability, and inclusion.
How #MeToo has Changed the Fashion Industry
An American Psychological Association survey found that just under one-third (32%) of workers said their employers had taken new actions to address and prevent workplace sexual harassment after #MeToo. In fashion, Conde Nast announced it is no longer using models under age 18. Also, the media giant whose publications include Vogue, Glamour and Vanity Fair, will no longer allow alcohol on its sets, and any shoot involving nudity, sheer clothing, lingerie, swimwear, simulated drug or alcohol use, or sexually suggestive poses, must be approved in advance by the subject. The Model Alliance rights group called for a contract protecting against sexual harassment that includes enlisting an independent third party to file complaints to, so that models don’t have to report allegations to the people paying them.
#MeToo Has Changes at Work
Low-wage women, who often live paycheck to paycheck, and women who are working in the U.S. illegally are the most vulnerable. A survey of nearly 500 Chicago hotel housekeepers revealed that 49% had encountered a guest who had exposed himself. Janitors who work the graveyard shift and farm workers have had trouble defending themselves against predatory supervisors. The stories finally becoming public highlight how sexual harassment subverts women’s careers. Seventy-eight percent of women say they are more likely to speak out now if they are treated unfairly because of their gender. Simply because women are being believed.