Have you ever been harassed in the street? Received a crass message on a dating app? Had a coworker make a comment about your appearance that just didn’t sit right?
You’re not alone.
With the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to log onto Twitter or Facebook and see just how many women are victims of sexual harassment. Whether in person or online, women everywhere have experienced it in one way or another. And with all the new ways the internet has opened avenues of communication, online harassment is more prevalent than ever.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most online abuse takes place on social media. Although men are also subject to online harassment – which includes name calling, derision, and physical threats – the study found that online, women are more than twice as likely as men to experience sexual harassment.
Either way, the #MeToo era has given these training sessions an added urgency, especially when it comes to a full understanding of the movement’s key terms (and how to use them correctly). While the fact that we’re having more transparent, nuanced conversations about assault and abuses of power than ever before in history is inarguably a good thing, it’s also a dialogue that will ultimately prove more productive if we—men and women alike—are all on the same page about what we’re actually talking about. If our shared goal is more open and consistent conversation about #MeToo and all it entails, it’s crucial to get on the same page with terminology.
In her new film, The Bookshop, Emily Mortimer plays the owner of a bookshop in 1959 who scandalises her small Suffolk town by selling copies of a controversial new novel called Lolita. How quaint, you think. How far we’ve come since then. Or have we? Mortimer is not so sure. “Lolita would have a hard time being published today,” she says, sipping a cappuccino in the drawing room of a hotel in central London. “And there’s something wrong about that.”
She’s talking about the climate surrounding the #MeToo movement, whose achievements she relishes, but which she fears has made us lose some of our boldness when it comes to risky material.
“It’s a weird moment that’s both really exciting and wonderful, and also quite confusing. I get scared by the sanctimony sometimes. When everybody thinks they’re right. Life’s not as simple as that. That’s why we need art, movies and books, because they’re exploring the grey areas of life.”
France #MeToo: Standing up to street harassment
Women in the French city of Marseille talk about their experiences of sexual harassment in public spaces and how they deal with it.
She describes a toxic culture of male comedians who continue to cover and vouch for one another, to the detriment of victims everywhere:
“The comedians who choose to shame and attack are the most disappointing of all. Dave Chappelle, a self-proclaimed “feminist,” used his Netflix special as an opportunity to single out one of the C.K. accusers, saying she has a “brittle-ass spirit.” His rambling bit, filled with ignorance and vitriol, isn’t comedy. It’s just another example of a comedy giant misusing his power and platform to hurt someone.”
The Times reports that Weinstein will “face charges in connection to at least one accuser,” Lucia Evans, although the exact charges are not known. Evans has accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004. New York investigators have also been looking into Weinstein’s alleged rape of Paz de la Huerta in 2010.
Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep are among the big names putting political leaders “on notice” in an open letter led by international charity ONE.
On Thursday, director Lee Daniels was interviewed by Bevy Smith on her Radio Andy show Bevelations. The conversation eventually turned to the #MeToo movement, with Daniels asking the question all famous men (and women!) have been asking recently: “Is it crazy enough or have we gone too far? I don’t know, I’m all confused.”
Claiming that he’s never had a sexual relationship with one of his actors, Daniels was adamant in stating, “I never sleep where I shit, I never sleep where I eat.”
On 15 October, actress Alyssa Milano suggested on Twitter that anyone who had been “sexually harassed or assaulted” should reply to her Tweet with “Me Too”, to demonstrate the scale of the problem. Half a million people responded in the first 24 hours.
A barrage of allegations has since emerged against high-profile men in entertainment, the media, politics, and tech. Many deny any wrongdoing. The repercussions are still in flux, but Hollywood’s power dynamics have undoubtedly shifted.
That’s less obviously true in the world beyond, and begs the question: What’s different for the millions of ordinary people who shared their own #MeToo stories? Are the currents of the movement visible in their lives too? How far has the rallying cry been converted into real-world change?
Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly took ownership over the fall of former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has resigned and is facing multiple criminal investigations after the New Yorker published allegations of his physical abuse against women. Cuomo, whose office has historically navigated questions of sexual harassment, “empowerment,” and women’s equality with the grace and subtlety of a dump truck careening through a bike lane, appears to believe himself up for the job.