Faces of the #MeToo movement
Faces of the #MeToo movement
Soon after allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October 2017, a hashtag that started on Twitter exploded into a symbol of sexual harassment and assault both in and outside of the workplace. #MeToo, coined in fact by activist Tarana Burke 10 years prior, was the phrase that actress Alyssa Milano used last year to encourage women (and men) to reveal just how prevalent of an issue this is.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of people on social media came out to show solidarity with #MeToo, including many celebrities. Within 24 hours on Facebook, 4.7 million people around the world had engaged in the #MeToo conversation. This momentum has carried the movement beyond the U.S. to countries like the U.K. and South Korea, and has provided a path to more crackdowns on workplace harassment. French speakers use #balancetonporc, Spanish speakers use #YoTambien and Arab countries use the hashtags وأنا_كمان# and وانا_ايضا#.
With this in mind, Stacker found 50 high-profile celebrities who have come forward or made an impact on the #MeToo movement. Though they’re just a few in a sea of voices, these individuals all played a role in further publicizing the #MeToo movement.
Social activist Tarana Burke started using the phrase “Me Too” on Myspace in 2006 in order to promote “empowerment through empathy” for women of color who are victims of sexual abuse. According to the Washington Post, “she was inspired to use the phrase after being unable to respond to a 13-year-old girl who confided to her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, ‘me too.’” She has shown strong support for the movement in its more evolved form today, as well.
The activist and former Charmed actress ignited the more recent #MeToo wave, tweeting on October 15, 2017 that “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Milano has since said that she hopes people will continue to support the movement in the future.
Actress and author Gabrielle Union has long been outspoken against sexual assault (and has been open about her own rape at the age of 19). Union has also come forward with a critique of the #MeToo movement that has resonated with many women as well. She argues that the floodgates have opened due in large part to the efforts of white women, and that women of color, who have been speaking about this issue for years, have been ignored until now.
The Italian actress and model was one of the women who came forward in the original New Yorker article, alleging that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, Argento received a lot of backlash for the revelation, and was forced to leave Italy for Germany. She continued to speak candidly about the toxicity of Hollywood culture at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
About a month after the #MeToo movement began, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas revealed that she was one of the hundreds of young gymnasts sexually abused by former USA team doctor Larry Nassar. After a lengthy trial with dozens of statements given by the victims, Nassar was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
“Kill Bill” actress Uma Thurman told The New York Times that Weinstein had made unwanted sexual advances towards her on more than one occasion. She also alleged that her rebuking led to the end of her professional relationship with director Quentin Tarantino, whom she said endangered her life on set.
Viola Davis delivered a heartfelt speech to attendees of the Los Angeles Women’s March earlier this year. She said of the movement, "I am speaking today not just for the 'Me Toos,’ because I was a 'Me Too,' but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence," she said.
After tweeting during the early days of #MeToo, the Modern Family actress gave a speech during the LA Women’s March along with other celebrities, and is an active member of the activist group Time’s Up. The group has set up a legal defense fund that “provides subsidized legal support to those who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or abuse in the workplace.”
During the production of her 1998 film “Playing by Heart,” Angelina Jolie alleges that Weinstein had made sexual advances towards her in a hotel room. She told the New York Times that she decided never to work with him again on those grounds.
The #MeToo movement has drawn members from a diverse group of communities, including authors. Writer and mental health advocate Nikki Dubose revealed on Twitter that she was sexually assaulted by family members as a child, on set as a model and harassed by the director of her agency when she tried to come forward.
Isa Dick Hackett
This writer for the Amazon Studios show The Man in the High Castle revealed that Amazon programming chief Roy Price sexually harassed her at Comic-Con. Price is said to have propositioned her repeatedly, and ignored her protests. Amazon suspended Price after Hackett told her story to the press.
Model and actress Cara Delevigne shared a story in October 2017 in which Weinstein called her to ask about her sexual preferences, then later invited her to a hotel room in which he asked her to kiss another woman. She described the experience as uncomfortable and “terrifying” in the hopes of inspiring others to share their stories.
Actress Laura Dern has been a leading activist in Time’s Up, and was honored for her work in May 2018 at the Feminist Majority Fund’s Global Women’s Rights Awards. She has also expressed the importance of representing intersectionality when discussing these issues, and explained how men can get involved in the movement.
Nyong’o wrote a detailed op-ed in The New York Times about several encounters with Weinstein — one in which he asked her to give him a massage and another in which he invited her up to his hotel room. He told her that “If [she] wanted to be an actress, then [she] had to be willing to do this sort of thing." He said he had "dated famous actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.”
In October 2017, Reese Witherspoon opened up about her experience with sexual assault at the Elle Women in Hollywood event. She said that a director assaulted her when she was only 16, and she hoped that young women would know that raising consciousness about these issues would help them gain the support of allies in Hollywood.
Jennifer Lawrence went on CNN to say that she has been groped and harassed by executives and producers in Hollywood. She once had to essentially strip naked, called the incident “dehumanizing.”
Icelandic singer Björk opened up on Facebook with details about the sexual harassment she faced from Danish director Lars Von Trier. She said that she “became aware that it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will, and the institution of film allows it.” Von Trier has denied all allegations, but called the #MeToo movement “brilliant.”
A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay is one of the members of the Women of Color subcommittee within Time’s Up. She took to Twitter to show her support for those who demand inquiries into rapper R. Kelly’s “history of abuse.”
Evan Rachel Wood
In February 2018, Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood was one of three women to testify in front of Congress about her experience as a victim of sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder. The goal was for Congress to expand the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act beyond federal level and into all 50 states. Wood has also talked about relating to her TV character, Dolores, who finds the strength to stage a rebellion in season two of the popular HBO show.
In a Q&A session at Northwestern University, comedian and actress Jenny Slate discussed the “gray areas” of sexual interactions. She suggested that students seek out society’s hidden injustices and, “have a conversation about how coercion has somehow been built into what is a ‘normal’ sexual experience.”
When Gwyneth Paltrow was working on the Weinstein-produced movie “Emma,” the Hollywood mogul invited her to his hotel room for a massage and she refused his advances. She kept quiet until #MeToo, because she was afraid he would ruin her career—a feeling shared by many of the women who have come forward.
In an essay for The New Yorker, ‘80s teen movie actress Molly Ringwald revisited her experience watching her film “The Breakfast Club” with her 10-year-old daughter in light of the #MeToo movement. Ringwald reveals that a scene in which her character is touched without her consent now feels uncomfortable and inappropriate.
Will and Grace actress Debra Messing said that she knew nothing of Weinstein’s behavior and was “shocked to hear the news.” Furthermore, she has said that the fallout from the movement has helped her realize how many times she herself has been sexually harassed and hadn’t fully understood it.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A feminist writer and strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told CNN about being a victim of sexual assault and has said that she is “cautiously optimistic” about the movement’s ability to spark lasting change. She told The Guardian, “It’s either the beginning of a revolution, or it is going to be a fad. We just don’t know.”
Country artist Sheryl Crow revealed on Twitter that she had experienced her #MeToo moment as a backup singer. The tour manager had told her to keep quiet because he could help her career, which she wrote about in a few songs later on her first album. She also recently joined the Recording Academy's new task force for diversity and female inclusion.
Best-known for playing Captain America in the Marvel movie franchise, Chris Evans has advised that the best way for men to be allies in the #MeToo movement is to “listen more and speak less.”
James Van Der Beek
In October 2017, Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek revealed his story of being groped and harassed as a young man in Hollywood. He tweeted that he “understands the unwarranted shame, powerlessness and inability to blow the whistle,” adding, “There’s a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome.”
After comedian and actress Charlyne Yi tweeted in support of #MeToo in October 2017, she detailed an encounter with comedian David Cross, in which he verbally harassed her and made racist jokes. Cross has since said that the exchange was a misunderstanding and apologized.
The model and actress is vocal about her support for the #MeToo movement, but has said that she believes posting on social media isn’t enough and that women and men need to take action (like voting) to create real, tangible change.
Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino was one of the first women to tell someone about being a victim of Harvey Weinstein nearly two decades ago, but was ignored and kept quiet until The New Yorker piece was published in 2017. According to Sorvino, “after [she and a few other women] rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.”
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky’s story has been re-examined in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair of her affair with the president: “Until recently (thank you, Harvey Weinstein), historians hadn’t really had the perspective to fully process and acknowledge that year of shame and spectacle. [...] I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent.”
Rupi Kaur is an Indian-Canadian poet and author who has written extensively about being a victim of sexual abuse. She has said that she hopes the #MeToo movement leads to an “abuse-free” world.
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez
After Weinstein groped her in 2015, Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez went to the police and later captured an audio recording of Weinstein admitting to his behavior. When she went public with this information, however, she found that Weinstein had used his connections to discredit her in the tabloids. Her story was one of the most detailed in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker piece.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with several others, shared her own #MeToo experiences on NBC’s Meet the Press in October 2017. She said a senior faculty member at the school where she worked as a law professor sexually harassed her and tried to assault her. "What it means now that so many people have spoken out is that it's a way to say ‘we're here for each other,’” Warren added.
On her podcast “Unqualified,” actress Anna Faris divulged that a director once slapped her behind on set. She says that she didn’t know how to react to it, but that it “made her feel small.” She also discussed objectification in the industry, and that what used to be dismissed as the status quo is being re-examined for the harassment it really is.
Actress Jenna Elfman started her #MeToo Instagram post by thanking her husband for his respect and support. She also shared that many men had tried to physically force themselves on her, and she felt she had to “stay loyal” to them. She attested that men and women both need to call out bad behavior, and keep each other accountable.
Earlier in April 2018, reporter and TV host Katie Couric announced that she would be tackling many of the issues of the moment—including #MeToo—in a new docuseries called “America Inside Out.” Couric has also shared stories about the “gross” sexual and verbal harassment she has experienced throughout her career at CNN and The Today Show, including being praised for her breast size and treated in other “marginalizing” ways.