Although this group originally started in 2006, by Tarana Burke and her organization "Just Be Inc.," it really took off in late 2017, after sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein came out. In response to these allegations, many women started sharing their own stories of how they were affected by sexual harassment. After "me too" went viral, allegations against big-name celebrities started coming out, and group entered the international stage, where it became a network of smaller groups working towards the sexual harassment issue. Since then, people within the network have working with lawmakers and business to change the policies regarding sexual harassment, and how it is dealt with in the workplace.
Currently, because this movement is relatively new, no new sexual harassment policies have been created. However, many corporations are in the process of rewriting their sexual harassment policies, so that women feel more comfortable coming forward if they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. Furthermore, these groups are in the process of lobbying in Washington D.C. to create better government policies regarding sexual harassment. This is to ensure that women feel that their voices are being heard and their stories are being believed.
The phrase "me too" was first coined in 2006, by Tarana Burke, a sexual assault survivor herself, to provide empathy and support to other victims of sexual violence, particularly low-income black and brown women. It eventually grew to support all women. Between 2006 and 2017, Burke and her organization, "Just Be Inc.," supported young women in their journey of healing. In October 2017, Alyssa Milano asked her Twitter followers to respond to her tweet with "me too" if they had ever experienced sexual assault. She tweeted this in response to allegations against Harvey Weinstein coming out. Overnight, this tweet went viral, and women all over the world were sharing their personal stories of how they experienced this violence. By 2018, Hollywood actresses were using their own platform to speak out against this issue. Since October, there have been many marches and rallies to spread awareness about sexual violence and show how big the problem really is.
Due to the viral nature of this movement, as of November 9th, 2017, Twitter recorded 2.3 million #MeToo tweets from 85 countries around the world, and Facebook recorded 24 million people participating in the movement, with 77 million posts, reactions or comments associated with #MeToo. Since the initial take-off of the movement, there have been many linguistic and cultural variations of the movement around the world. In some countries, survivors alter #MeToo to their own language, such as Spanish for survivors in Colombia, Mexico and Spain. These citizens use the #YoTambien hashtag for their variation of the movement. In addition, other survivors have changed the #MeToo hashtag to culturally fit within their own society so that the movement can speak more to the needs of the survivors in these other areas around the world. Countries such as France, Italy or Saudi Arabia use these cultural variants: France uses #BalenceTonPorc, Italy uses #QuellaVoltaChe, and Saudi Arabia uses وانا_ايضا وانا_ايضا.
Under “Media Artifacts” below, one can visualize the viral nature of this movement. In this image, one can view the Global Reach of #MeToo from October 16th-November 6th, 2017. Within three weeks, the United States had 520,153 survivors use the #MeToo hashtag, the United Kingdom had 74,125, Canada had 43,359, India had 24,122, France had 15,362, Kenya had 2,022, and China had approximately a mere 400 uses of the hashtag. It was not until January of 2018, where the movement took off in Kenya, China and Pakistan. It took off in Kenya because the #MeToo movement inspired women in Kenya to protest and demand that the Kenyatta National Hospital staff be criminally investigated due to the large number of rape, sexual harassment and sexual violence reports that have taken place in the hospital. It took off in China because a former student of Beihang University posted her story of assault online, thus resulting in the removal of that professor who was also the Vice President of the graduate school. In addition, the movement took off in Pakistan after the public awareness of a rape/murder of a seven-year-old girl names Zainab Ansari. This caused public outrage.
In other industries, companies are working to restructure their sexual harassment policies to make women more comfortable in the workplace. In the service industry, specifically, several states are banning the subminimum wage, so that workers (primarily women) do not have to put up with sexual harassment just to gain an income. Additionally, industries are making sexual harassment trainings more effective and necessary so that sexual misconduct is prevented.
This network is composed of all types of feminists. Originally, Tarana Burke catered toward low-income black and brown girls. As the network grew, it started to include women of all races, LGBTQ+, and even some men. This network is composed mostly of women with multiple identities, so intersectional feminism has a big influence on this network of groups. Because most women have multiple identities, they are able to show how they are marginalized in different ways, and they are able to bring perspectives to the conversation of sexual harassment.
#MeToo does not have one concrete structure. It was created by activist Tarana Burke and her organization "Just Be Inc." After this issue started gaining attention worldwide, #MeToo became a network of different, decentralized groups that work on eradicating this issue.