Top, left to right: Brett Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Bill Cosby. Bottom, left to right: Matt Lauer, R Kelly, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump (Photos: Getty Image, Rex Features)

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How a year of #MeToo changed the world

One year ago today, the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and the conversation around sexual assault changed for ever. The Pool covered it every step of the way.

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By Emily Baker on

On 5 October 2017 – exactly a year ago, today – The New York Times published an article, in which a number of women accused former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Five days later, 13 more women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape in the The New Yorker. A movement was born.

#MeToo, first coined by social activist Tarana Burke, in 2006, is now a rallying shorthand against sexual assault. It’s become one of the most recognisable phrases in the English language today, having been tweeted millions of times by celebrities, non-celebrities, politicians and more. And it has had real-world consequences, too – Weinstein was fired and has been charged with "rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women”; other dangerous, powerful men were accused and toppled; above all, women’s voices and stories were beginning to be heard. But there’s still so much work to be done.

The Pool has been dedicated to giving women a voice for the last three years, and never has that felt more urgent, important and vital than since last October. Here, to begin our coverage of the #MeToo anniversary, we look back at one year of #MeToo through the eyes of The Pool and our contributors. Scroll through for the best pieces on some of the very worst people as we cover Harvey Weinstein; the #MeToo movement; Time’s Up; the effects in politics, fashion, comedy, the music industry; the apologies; the comebacks; and, inevitably, the backlash.

Harvey Weinstein
 

The one that started it all. The epicentre of the earthquake. The rest of the world found out what most of Hollywood had apparently known for decades: that the sexual abuse of women in the film industry was systemic and came from the very, very top. We reckoned with our own experiences, the silencing of survivors’ voices and watched as women were blamed for the actions of a truly terrible man.

“The Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment allegations are sickeningly familiar”

As the news broke, Jean Hannah Edelstein recognised herself in the allegations against Weinstein, writing about the countless male editors who had taken an interest in her. October 2017

"When older, more powerful men prey on younger women, it hurts. For years”

Pre-empting the #MeToo movement, Caroline O’Donoghue wondered why the news of the allegations against Weinstein hit so close to home. October 2017

“Harvey Weinstein: everyone knew, so who could have done something?”

Why did so many of Weinstein’s peers stay silent? Marisa Bate contemplated the issue of complicity. October 2017

“Why are women – not men – expected to speak out against Harvey Weinstein?”

The Daily Mail published a list of people we hadn’t heard from, yet, regarding the Weinstein scandal. Surprise, surprise, they were all women. October 2017

“These women aren't responsible for Harvey Weinstein's actions”

The paper continued its attack on Hollywood women, printing pictures of actors (and Hillary Clinton) arm in arm with Weinstein, suggesting they, too, had covered up his actions. October 2017

“Sex addiction is not an excuse for sexual assault”

At the time, there seemed to be a concerted effort to excuse Weinstein’s alleged assaults as the behaviour of a sex addict. Why, asked Florence Wilkinson. October 2017

“You shouldn’t need to be a father to understand Weinstein’s actions are wrong”

Matt Damon denied the claim he had covered up Weinstein’s behaviour by exulting himself as a “father of daughters” – an excuse we’d hear countless times, over the next year. October 2017

“One more time: how a woman dresses does not mean she's 'asking for it'”

Donna Karan wondered whether women who were allegedly attacked by Weinstein were “asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality.” Answer: no. October 2017

“Lupita Nyong’o reveals the horror of Weinstein’s predatory behaviour”

The Black Panther actor joined Mira Sorvino, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow in condemning Weinstein and also shared her own story. October 2017

“The infantilising term ‘sex pest’ disguises the horror of harassment and assault”

Rather than abuser or attacker, the papers settled on the term “sex pest” to describe Harvey Weinstein – a phrase that demeans and undermines the traumatic stories of all his victims. October 2017

“There is now a document listing 100 accusations against Harvey Weinstein”

Asia Argento collated a list of 100 women who had rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct claims against Harvey Weinstein. November 2017

“Why are we blaming Meryl Streep for an industry-wide silence that enabled Weinstein’s crimes?”

Posters of Meryl Streep emblazoned with “she knew” began appearing across Hollywood. Kuba Shand-Baptiste wished we could focus on the real bad guys, rather than trying to split the #MeToo movement. December 2017

“Harvey Weinstein’s rehab clinic is offering a #MeToo therapy course”

Weinstein entered The Meadows for “sex addiction” treatment – a centre that also offers women rehabilitation to “work through the roots of their sexual and relational struggles”. Yes, really. February 2018

“How non-disclosure agreements became a secret weapon to silence women”

Harvey Weinstein – along with Donald Trump and Fox News – used NDAs to silence women. But what are they, and how do we stop their misuse? April 2018

“Georgina Chapman – and the culpability of wives”

In an interview with Vogue, it appears Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, truly had no idea of her husband’s monstrosities. But should actors still wear her dresses? May 2018

“Footage has emerged of Harvey Weinstein inappropriately touching woman during meeting”

A video of the mogul touching, hugging and making sexually explicit comments to a young woman is being used in a civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, UK police dragged their feet in charging Weinstein, despite an 11th victim coming forward. September 2018

The #MeToo movement


The words that flipped the conversation, from focusing on Weinstein to listening to women everywhere who have been assaulted, abused and harassed. #MeToo became a guiding light for talking about experiences that had previously remained in the dark.

“#MeToo – the post-Weinstein rallying cry of solidarity”

As the #MeToo hashtag spread across Twitter, Marisa Bate added her own voice to the millions of women calling out their harassers. October 2017

“After the ‘Me Too’ response to Harvey Weinstein, do we need “Him Too”?”

Rather than asking women to expose their own trauma, Sali Hughes wondered if we needed a new movement to call out men. October 2017

“Men are finally speaking up about assault but words and hashtags aren’t enough”

Men began to question their own behaviour and publicly support women – but we need more than just words, argued Kat Lister. October 2017

“Who am I supposed to tell when a man sexually harasses me in front of our friends?”

The idea that women didn’t report sexual harassment before #MeToo is a myth, argued Marie Philips. It’s just that no one listened to us before there was a label for it. October 2017

“With allegations of sexual harassment, who do we believe – and when?”

Jane Fonda asked why we have only listened to the stories of famous, white women, causing Kat Lister to wonder why credibility seems to depend on numbers and status. October 2017

“What happens when you publicly name a man when discussing #MeToo?”

On Twitter, Kate Leaver publicly named the man who had sexually harassed her. What followed was a slew of trolling, name-calling and accusations of lying. October 2017

“Rose McGowan speaks out after 20 years of silence”

Speaking at the Women’s Convention in Detroit, Weinstein survivor and actor Rose McGowan delivered a poignant, defiant speech in support of all sexual-harassment victims. October 2017

“Post-Weinstein, Natalie Portman is seeing past experiences differently. She’s not alone”

Natalie Portman realised that, while she had never been a victim of sexual abuse, she’d definitely been harassed and made to feel uncomfortable on film sets. November 2017

“Women are furious. How are we going to use that anger?”

Lynn Enright and Uma Thurman were – and still are – angry over the mistreatment and abuse of women at the hands of powerful men. But perhaps we can use that anger to change things, they wrote. November 2017

“These powerful women in film are standing defiantly in Weinstein’s wake”

Weinstein’s former assistant, and the first woman to break her NDA against him, Zelda Perkins, was honoured at the 10th-anniversary ceremony of Women And Hollywood. It was a defiant showing of solidarity from Hollywood women, and Rachael Sigee was there to witness the bittersweet celebration. November 2017

“2017 was the year of The Silence Breakers. Next year, it’s time for action”

TIME magazine declared The Silence Breakers as Person Of The Year, with Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu and Isabel Pascual (not her real name) on the front cover. December 2017

“Women in Hollywood will use the red carpet to stand up for #MeToo”

In the shadow of the Weinstein scandal, the world looked to how awards season would tackle the issue. The answer? Black dresses on the red carpet of the Golden Globes. December 2017

“Weinstein sabotaged Salma Hayek’s career – and distorted Frida Kahlo’s legacy”

Salma Hayek revealed Harvey Weinstein had bullied her into a full-frontal lesbian sex scene with Ashley Judd on the set of the Frida Kahlo biopic, Frida. Later, she would express disappointment that she didn’t tell her story earlier. December 2017

“Why Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is my feminist hero”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who oversaw the sexual-abuse hearing against US gymnastics coach Larry Nassar, not only ensured justice was served, but also that women’s voices were listened to. January 2018

“We need men in the #MeToo movement”

Terry Crews and Brendan Fraser came out with their #MeToo stories, reminding us that we need men to speak up, too. February 2018

“Humanitarian aid workers’ #MeToo moment has been a long time coming”

Sophie Wilkinson spoke to aid worker Megan Nobert, who was raped while working as an aid worker, as sexual-abuse claims rocked big-name charities Oxfam and Save The Children. February 2018  

“Should we be surprised by the allegations against Morgan Freeman?”

By now, not really, said Yomi Adegoke. May 2018

“Cancelling the Nobel Prize in Literature proves the power of #MeToo”

Eighteen women accused photographer Jean-Claude Arnault of sexual assault, leading to the cancellation of the Nobel Prize in Literature. It was a welcome indicator of how far-reaching and disruptive #MeToo had become. May 2018

“Post-#MeToo, the film industry has spent a year taking a long, hard look at itself. So, has anything actually changed?”

The BFI London Film Festival made a concerted effort to celebrate women directors, but the same couldn’t be said for Venice… August 2018

“How Hollywood is responding to Asia Argento”

Weinstein accuser Argento had allegations of sexual assault against a minor levelled at her. It was an unimaginable turn in the story of #MeToo – and one that campaigners had to reckon with. August 2018

“This is what you need to know about those Cristiano Ronaldo rape allegations”

The rape allegation against superstar footballer had all the hallmarks of a classic case – an NDA, hush money and a police investigation. September 2018

Time’s Up
 

When words became actions. The movement started in Hollywood, and so did the response. There were black gowns, uncomfortable awards speeches and red-carpet interviews that tackled a lot more than who wore what.

“No more silence, no more excuses – ‘Time’s Up,’ say the women of Hollywood”

At the turn of the new year, women in Hollywood announced their Time’s Up campaign – an initiative that aims to raise money for a legal fund for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. January 2018

“‘Here are the all-male nominees’” – Natalie Portman slays the system”

At The Golden Globes, Natalie Portman wasn’t scared to point out that all the nominated directors were men. January 2018

“Inspired by the #TimesUp campaign, British women want action, not just words”

MP Jess Phillips rallied British women to launch our own version of Time’s Up. January 2018

“Natalie Portman spoke about the rape fantasies she was subjected to aged 13”

At the Los Angeles Women’s March, Natalie Portman recounted how the sexualisation of her body by Hollywood execs changed her career. January 2018

“Cannes has long celebrated powerful predatory men. Now, women are demanding change”

Eighty-two women stood together on the red carpet of Cannes Film Festival, sending a strong message that women must be prioritised. May 2018

Politics
 

When #MeToo began, the most powerful man in the world had a catalogue of allegations against him and openly bragged about assaulting women. He still does, but the world view is starting to shift and politicians are finding it harder and harder to ignore women. Before the last year, Brett Kavanaugh might have slipped into the Supreme Court, unnoticed.

“Politicians join the #MeToo movement and speak out about sexual harassment”

Theresa Villiers, Anne Jenkin, Jess Phillips and more spoke out about the sexual harassment they’d faced, bringing the #MeToo movement into the heart of Westminster. October 2017

“As sexual harassment allegations swirl, Theresa May looks decidedly unfeminist”

While it felt uncomfortable to expect a woman to clean up a mess created solely by men, it seemed as though Theresa May wasn’t doing enough – or anything – to tackle the accusations of sexual harassment in Westminster. October 2017

“Here’s a rundown of the sexual allegations made against Trump so far”

Among the millions of women saying #MeToo were the alleged victims of Donald Trump. Kat Lister told the stories of the 16 women who say they have been sexually harassed or abused by the president of the United States. December 2017

“Christine Blasey Ford and the power of speaking out loud”

Ford told her story of how she was allegedly sexually assaulted by US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. September 2018

The Fashion Industry
 

Galvanised by the #MeToo movement, individuals within the fashion industry began to take action against the insidious culture of abuse that is, and has been, so pervasive. Some of the most powerful men working in the industry were finally called out for their actions, but, with bad behaviour still tolerated – and, in some cases, celebrated – it’s apparent there’s a very long way to go.

“Is the fashion world finally addressing the Terry Richardson sexual harassment allegations?”

Caryn Franklin MBE wrote a timeline of her quest to call out alleged sexual harasser Terry Richardson. Finally, four years later and thanks to the power of #MeToo, the fashion industry begins to listen. October 2017

“Women weren’t the sole enablers of Terry Richardson – so why single them out?”

Another article – this time from The Daily Beast – blamed the women Terry Richardson photographed for covering up his actions. Sigh. October 2017

“What should fashion week look like in a post-#MeToo era?”

Laura Craik wondered how – and if – fashion week would change. February 2018

“Is fashion’s #MeToo movement all talk no walk?”

It looked like the fashion industry would work to solve its sexual-assault problems, but the fruits of those efforts never seemed to materialise – especially when Roman Polanski appeared on the front row of a Miu Miu show. July 2018

Comedy
 

We had always been told that women couldn’t take a joke, but, once #MeToo met the world of comedy, it turned out that none of it had been that funny in the first place.

“Have you heard the one about Harvey Weinstein in the bath? It wasn’t funny”

James Corden spent most of his time presenting the amfAR gala making misguided and borderline offensive Weinstein jokes. October 2017

“Aziz Ansari and the sad familiarity of the ‘bad date’”

A story, published on Babe.net, about Aziz Ansari launched a thousand conversations about how bad dates can often lead to bad sex – and coercion. January 2018

“Women already knew Cosby was guilty. Are the courts finally catching up?”

Bill Cosby was finally found guilty of drugging and molesting a woman, in what felt like the first victory of the #MeToo campaign. April 2018

“Nanette is not just a queer woman’s story – it’s a revolution”

In a rare positive #MeToo story, comedian Hannah Gadsby told her story of sexual assault in a groundbreaking stand-up routine. June 2018

“10 months after a sexual-misconduct scandal, Louis CK is welcomed back with a standing ovation”

The comedian appeared on stage for the first time since the sexual-misconduct allegations against him – to a standing ovation. August 2018

The music industry
 

It didn’t take long for women in the music industry to stand with their Hollywood sisters, as they addressed exploitation, abuse and majorly screwed-up power dynamics. Kesha was at the forefront of the conversation; R Kelly was lurking at the back.

“Is 2018 the year #MeToo will finally tackle toxicity in the music industry?”

Women in the music industry joined forces to create the Stop campaign, in an effort to tackle the deeply ingrained misogyny and sexual harassment in the music industry. December 2017

“The 2018 Grammys were all about women – until it came to them actually winning anything”

Stars at the Grammys wore white roses and Time’s Up pins – but the ceremony itself failed to celebrate women. Except Kesha, who delivered a powerful, emotional performance. January 2018

“Sexism, drugs and rock ’n’ roll – when will the music industry finally wake up to #MeToo?”

While the rest of the world reckoned with #MeToo, the music industry ignored it. Eve Barlow explained why – and how it can change. March 2018

“R Kelly’s fall edges closer as Time’s Up campaign supports boycott”

Rapper R Kelly was the subject of a boycott, after he was accused of keeping young women against their will inside his homes in a "cult-like" system. May 2018

“Lily Allen: the music industry needs to face up to the prevalence of abuse”

The pop star looked back on the abuse she’d faced throughout her career, and called for change. September 2018

The Apologies and the Comebacks
 

Whether they failed to actually say “sorry”, made excuses or reminded us they were “fathers of daughters”, the way men talked about #MeToo was invariably awful. They waded in with opinions, but started to realise that, this time, perhaps no one wanted to hear them.

“Should an apology be enough to give serial sexual harassers a second chance?”

Actor Bryan Cranston said we should offer forgiveness to sexual harassers who “put the work in and were truly sorry”. Maybe, but not before our anger is accounted for, argued Daisy Buchanan. November 2017

“The rise of the nonpology”

Lots of apologies arose in the wake of #MeToo, but not one of them actually seemed to be sorry for their actions. Sali Hughes listed all the ways men accused of sexual harassment or assault said “sorry, not sorry”. November 2017

“Too busy being a perv to say you’re sorry? This apology generator is just what you need”

As men accused of sexual assault struggled with making sincere apologies, some clever (and hilarious) coder created an online Celebrity Perv Apology Generator. November 2017

“Mel Gibson’s solidarity with sexual-assault victims is hypocritical and unwanted”

The alleged abuser praised the #MeToo movement for throwing “light” where there were “shadows” and spent the month spouting his views on chat shows like Graham Norton. Oddly enough, he had a film to promote at the time. November 2017

“We didn’t ask for Matt Damon’s thoughts on sexual harassment – and they are the worst”

In an unnecessarily long interview, actor Matt Damon stuck up for his actor mates, told us that the severity of an accusation “depends what the accusation is” and reminded us that he has four daughters. December 2017

“No, Matt Damon, you can’t appropriate #MeToo for innocent men”

Matt Damon opened his mouth again, this time to ask for praise to be given to the “shitload of guys” who haven’t committed sexual crimes against women. December 2017

“Mira Sorvino and Greta Gerwig just delivered a masterclass in apologising”

Actors Mira Sorvino and Greta Gerwig sincerely apologised for working with alleged abuser Woody Allen – something the men of Hollywood had so far failed to do. January 2018

“Our desire to rehabilitate men is classic ‘himpathy’”

Rachael Sigee wrote about the frustrating trend of feeling sorry for men accused of sexual misconduct and harassment, while their victims were questioned. February 2018

“Just six months after #MeToo began, is it too early to debate ‘comebacks’?”

Matt Lauer, Louis CK and Charlie Rose were all prepped for public comebacks, only six months after #MeToo first began. April 2018

The Backlash
 

Sexual assault is a difficult topic to discuss, and some people just didn’t want to talk about it. It felt like we’d only just opened our mouths, when we were told to shut them again. From terrible takes to feminist infighting, one thing was clear: men were not enjoying the tables being turned.

“The real problem with the term ‘witch hunt’ when it’s used by Woody Allen”

Woody Allen, a man who has been accused of sexual assault himself, said the #MeToo movement was akin to a “witch-hunt atmosphere” against Harvey Weinstein. Kuba Shand-Baptiste pointed out that Allen had co-opted a phrase most often used to persecute women and people of colour. October 2017

“One hundred French women speak out against #MeToo”

“Insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression," read the open letter disclaiming the #MeToo movement, signed by 100 prominent French women. January 2018

"In criticising #MeToo and Dylan Farrow, Germaine Greer is victim-blaming"

Germaine Greer said women with allegations against Harvey Weinstein were “whingeing” and that women should tell their abusers “no” at the time of the harassment. Terry Gilliam also had some unwarranted opinions on #MeToo, telling victims “that’s the price you pay”. January 2018

“Don’t let the media tell you that the #MeToo backlash is about younger versus older women”

As the tabloids jumped on Greer’s #MeToo comments, they began to pitch older and younger generations of women against each other. But we need to stay united, said Lynn Enright. January 2018

“The most powerful ‘life coach’ in the world has a dangerous take on #MeToo”

Tony Robbins said women were using the #MeToo movement to gain fame and take down men. April 2018

“When Ian McEwan uses the word ‘mob’ he hurts Weinstein’s alleged victims”

When asked about the #MeToo movement, the author said he would rather reserve judgement and leave it to the courts – oddly referring to harrowing testimonies, investigative reporting and criminal charges as a “mob”. May 2018

“Has Casey Affleck just graduated from #MeToo school?”

Casey Affleck appeared out of nowhere to give his unwanted and misguided views on the past year. August 2018

@emilyrbakes @littlewondering

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Top, left to right: Brett Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Bill Cosby. Bottom, left to right: Matt Lauer, R Kelly, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump (Photos: Getty Image, Rex Features)
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