When Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story on 5 October 2017, no one possibly could have anticipated the shockwaves that it would cause. 10 days later, Alyssa Milano prompted people to share their own experiences of sexual assault by replying to a tweet with a simple phrase coined by Tarana Burke: ‘me too’. Since then, the #MeToo movement has become synonymous with strength and solidarity, inspiring those who have survived sexual assault and paving the way for change.
Earlier this year, Weinstein entered one of the most awaited trials of the 21st Century, a shell of the man he once was. It is striking, in a way, to witness Weinstein’s palpable fall from grace. It’s so striking because it simply does not happen enough. His career was instantly stalled, his reputation indisputably tainted, with the voices of 87 women enough to quieten the cacophony of his privilege. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years out of a possible 29, so although the evidence was concrete, why are we shocked that the law worked as the law should?
As a society we are not used to the justice system taking these actions seriously. The year prior to the initial allegations against Weinstein saw the trial of Brock Turner, a promising swimmer at Stanford University who was found guilty of five counts of assault. Turner was found sexually assaulting the unconscious Chanel Miller and was given only six months in jail. The #MeToo movement couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.
Actresses recently walked out of the Cesars after Roman Polanski, a man who has admitted to unlawful sexual intercourse with a thirteen-year-old girl, won Best Director. The #MeToo movement has opened up a discourse of support within society, implicating those in power and holding them accountable. Although nothing can undo any of the heinous acts committed, the justice served by the sentencing of Weinstein is as though society is reaching out to victims as if to say, ‘I understand you’.
If Weinstein had not been justly sanctioned, it would have been a dreadful way to end a trial which sparked so much support for victims of sexual assault. Survivors have been given a helping hand, a push to find internal strength, all because of the #MeToo movement. After the trial of Harvey Weinstein, there is even more power instilled into the simple phrase, ‘me too’.
Image credit: Marco Verch