A social movement
The #metoo movement is a social movement that has gained significant momentum in recent years and aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence. The genesis of the #metoo movement began in 2006, more than 10 years before the hashtag #metoo was first used on social media. Human rights activist Tarana Burke founded a counseling center called “MeToo” with the goal of supporting young women, especially Black women, who have experienced sexualized violence.
The hashtag is trending and attracting international attention
Tarana Burke worked on the development of #metoo for over 10 years before the movement became a social media hashtag. In 2017, famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by several women of abuse of power, including sexual harassment and rape of young actresses. (cf. Ohlheiser, 2017). The allegations created a media debate about sexism and sexual violence, especially in Hollywood and in the acting industry. Other actors and public figures who were accused also got into focus of public attention. Triggered by the scandals surrounding Weinstein, in 2017 Alyssa Milano appealed to the public on the platform Twitter (now X) to use #metoo as a hashtag to highlight the true extent of sexualized violence. Within a few days, the hashtag was posted thousands of times on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. (cf. Loney-Howes, 2019)
Sexual violence is part of the public discourse
Although progress has been made, challenges remain. Critics argue that the movement sometimes leads to public trials without due process or undermines the presumption of innocence. Others point out the need for intersectionality within the movement, emphasizing that certain voices, such as those of marginalized communities, may not receive the same attention and support as those of privileged groups. Nevertheless, the #metoo movement has brought the issue of sexual violence to the forefront of public discourse and encouraged society to address these daily issues. It continues to evolve and shape ongoing conversations about consent, accountability and the need for structural change to create a safer and more equitable environment for all.
- Ohlheiser, A. (2017): The woman behind “Me Too” knew the power of the phrase when she created it – 10 years ago. Washington Post.
- Loney-Howes, R. (2019). The Politics of the Personal: The Evolution of Anti-rape Activism: FromSecond-Wave Feminism to #MeToo. In B. Fileborn & R. Loney-Howes (Eds.), #MeToo and thePolitics of Social Change (S. 21–35). Palgrave Macmillan