Time magazine’s Person of the Year 2017 was “The Silence Breakers.” This represents the people who have come forward to report harassment and abuse they have experienced in the past as part of the #MeToo Movement remain silent while enduring harassment began to come forward, creating an even greater movement. Within two days of Milano’s first Twitter post, there were more than 1 million tweets, and more than 12 million posts on Facebook in one day. In the following months, the effects were felt not only in the movie industry, but also in media and the political world, as many prominent people were denounced.
The #MeToo concept (spreading empathy by sharing your own experiences) was actually first used 10 years earlier by the civil-rights activist Tarana Burke in her program for black women who had been victims of sexual violence. Milano appears to have used the same phrase unknowingly. The explosive response to #MeToo this time was initially resented by Ms. Burke because white women had ignored the movement when it was associated with black people, and only responded when other white people that started last year. The origin of this was a scoop by the New York Times in October reporting on sexual harassment accusations directed at the movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Ten days later the actress Alyssa Milano called on others to share their own experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #MeToo, initiating this huge movement. Harvey Weinstein is a fervent advocate for eradication of poverty, gun regulation and health insurance reform, has donated large sums of money to the Democratic Party, and supported the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns. When the article first came out, the point that accusations had been made against Mr. Weinstein drew attention. Yet almost immediately, women who had been compelled to were involved; but, she later voiced her approval.
At the time of this writing, it has been nearly five months since the initial article, and there are starting to be voices pointing out some of the side effects of #MeToo as the movement continues to spread. There are reports of some companies making rules (or requiring self-regulation by the men) to prohibit business trips and meetings involving one man and one woman, and men inviting women to share meals. It may become necessary to consider the risk of impediments to information access and business planning imposed on women as an over-reaction to the #MeToo activity.