Trigger Warning: discussion of sexual assault, abuse and treatment of victims in the media
Whether you follow the news or you’re familiar with the Hollywood film industry, or even just on social media, you are likely to recognise the name, Harvey Weinstein. You also probably know about the Me Too movement. In case you aren’t up to date, Harvey Weinstein is a former Hollywood film producer who has been accused of a very large number of sexual assaults dating back to the ‘80s. Since October 2017, over 100 women have come forward, each highlighting the abuse they have faced at the hands of Weinstein, who is currently on trial in New York regarding a number of these allegations.
Looking back to October 2017, when a New York Times article first ‘broke’ the news and brought forward allegations against Harvey Weinstein, not many people would have predicted the impacts this case was going to have on the film industry. Over two years since the initial article, victims are still coming forward, with many of the women having similar stories about Harvey’s alleged abuse of power. The timeline of the Harvey Weinstein ‘scandal’ has been documented here by the BBC, and looking through it seems crazy how after just 1 month of the news breaking, many different women from different parts of the world came forward with their stories.
No doubt that the article triggered a major change in society that resulted in the rebirth of the original Me Too movement online after a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano.
We are now in what is being dubbed as the ‘Me Too Era’, a time where many people feel empowered to come forward with their stories of sexual assault and harassment. From Hollywood to university campuses and the workplace, Me Too is now a common part of the dialogue when it comes to safety at work. The discourse surrounding sexual assault and harassment is finally changing, albeit slowly, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to believing victims. When we talk about people like Harvey Weinstein, too often we look at the victims and why they may not be telling the truth. Too many of us focus on how we can ensure the victims are credible characters, too quickly we forget to ask ourselves how easy is it for people in positions like Weinstein once was to get away with abuse. So today we find ourselves, instead of being aware of abuses of power and how most courts around the world make it extremely difficult for victims, a whole movement is under intense scrutiny. The Me Too movement’s credibility is on the line, Weinstein being acquitted could lead to its collapse. Although it is unlikely for Weinstein to be back in Hollywood if he is found not guilty, there is likely to be a rebuttal against all the people who have come forward against Harvey.
Although the future of the Me Too movement shouldn’t hang on the outcome of the Harvey Weinstein trial, it is likely to have a great impact on how the movement is talked about moving forward. The Me Too movement is so much more than Harvey Weinstein, unfortunately, it is continuously reduced to this one man. Me Too managed to, for the first time this century, unite women both in and out of Hollywood in their attempt at changing history. Hollywood is full of powerful people that use their power and influence to silence victims, this isn’t exclusive to Harvey Weinstein, that’s why the Me Too movement is so important. Victims may be more likely to come forward today, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to believing them. We may be witnessing history, but change takes time, and in case of Weinstein’s acquittal it may be a slow and painful change for many.