In October of 2017, Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein was exposed to have harassed and assaulted over 50 actresses in a timeline that spans over three decades. As more women came forward in regard to their experiences with Weinstein, women worldwide began to share their own experiences of sexual assault and violence. These shared experienced are what ultimately sparked #MeToo, a movement that demonstrated the degree in which sexual harassment and assault exists in society. #MeToo has since become a worldwide movement to combat sexual violence in society; however, the movement actually began years ago.
Tarana Burke, a social activist, created the “me too” movement in 2007 as a product of her nonprofit work with victims of sexual assault. Fast forward 10 years and the #MeToo movement has become so influential that these women, or “The Silence Breakers” were named Time magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year. Alison McKee, a professor within the Radio, Film, and Television department at San Jose State University, focuses her work on gender issues and film theory in American cinema. In the wake of the news, she acknowledged the positive social impact of raising awareness but notes that the issue is not exclusive to the film industry.
“You just look at Washington, and system of hierarchical power and that happens. I’m concerned about the men and woman in the cube in the office,” said McKee, surrounded by the film posters that fill up her office wall. “In private enterprise who’s doing the same kind of thing. It happens all over, it is not unique to the high-profile film, and TV, and Washington.”
The #MeToo campaign was a catalyst for more awareness and discussion of a critical issue, but McKee said she was hesitant to say that it will fix things because once the “cool” factor fades away, change might not come. “I don’t think you do away with years and years and sometimes even centuries of this kind of thing overnight with a me-too campaign,” said McKee. “Every single woman I know has stories. I don’t want us to be distracted by it’s cool to put up a me too sign and not work for it on the daily interactions or call out your colleagues.”