In light of Harvey Weinstein’s indictment, Emily Chapman reflects on the past six months of #MeToo and the impacts it has had
At the end of the piece I wrote last October on sexual assault in Hollywood, I noted the positivity I felt from the ability of women to come together in the face of sexual assault. The last 6 or so months’ proceedings have not disappointed me. The #MeToo movement caused shockwaves that continue to take effect today, with the indictment of Harvey Weinstein taking place in the last week.
After turning himself in to the New York police after being formally charged with multiple counts of first and third-degree rape, Weinstein posted a $1m bail and now awaits trial. Despite the seeming victory of the legal measures taken against Weinstein, this is not the end of male dominance and misogyny in Hollywood and across the globe. Weinstein, and others likes him, continue to use their wealth to make their lives as comfortable as possible, even under abhorrent circumstances. This becomes an increasingly sickening concept when considering Weinstein’s wealth implicit in his ability to commit these crimes and get away with them for so long in the first place, manipulating young actresses with the promise of fulfilling their wildest dreams. Whilst the fundamental issues remain relatively untouched, the survival of the #metoo movement means that things are changing: people are listening and giving support to women.
But have we succeeded in making men accountable for their actions? Of course, this is a much more complicated question than can be answered here and now, but as new stories and accusations hit our screens every day, it is worth thinking about how this has affected how men are viewing their own crimes, and whether they are being deterred from committing further ones. Only very recently has actor Morgan Freeman been accused of sexual misconduct on movie sets and in interviews, as well as the #muteRKelly twitter movement after investigations began into the treatment of women (particularly black women) by R. Kelly and his team.
But, as much as I despise writing his name, Weinstein’s actions were the impetus for this feminist movement, and have arguably set up a kind of precedent against which further crimes are being compared. Take Freeman’s sexual misconduct accusations, for example. In more than one article I have read about him, it has been found necessary to identify his actions as ‘no where near as bad as Weinstein’s’, as if this mattered. Unfortunately, on some people, the point of the whole #MeToo movement seems to have been lost. Weinstein has been placed at one end of a horrible spectrum of sexual assaults, with anything to the left of him being considered less of a concern. The reality, however, is that every instance of sexual assault is a revolting and violent crime against an individual, all of which are as completely detestable as each other. It seems absurd that I’m having to clarify this, but this is an active example of the work that is still yet to be done.
With just a quick google search it can be seen how #MeToo continues to be relevant and is changing in nature. New search hits are coming up every couple of hours, and spots on the top lists are now not only reserved for the celebrity cases, but stories about women becoming advocates for #MeToo in their everyday lives. The most significant of these are stories that have come from women in Iran, who have broken the incredibly taboo of sexual assault to join their feminist sisters across the globe in speaking out. Through this it can be seen how the #MeToo movement has evolved over the last few months: now not only something reserved for victims in the celebrity spotlight, it has become an international feminist movement that, with any luck, will shape the future of 21st century feminism.
As bleak as the emergence of accusations against people we may have previously respected and admire are, I still have hope that one day they will come to an end, and we can all bask in the confidence we have that men will not use their power to abuse others.