The #MeToo movement has led to a national reckoning over sexual abuse in the US. And it's proving that few people are too powerful to fall.
What’s the issue?
Until recently, victims of sexual misconduct often felt too intimidated to come forward, or were silenced when they did. The #MeToo movement has started to change that dynamic. Last year, allegations started rolling in against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. One after another. After another. After another. Since then, the list of powerful men accused of sexual misconduct has kept on growing. Jeffrey Tambor. Matt Lauer. Charlie Rose. Al Franken. Roy Moore. Louis CK. Kevin Spacey. Tom Brokaw. Morgan Freeman. Junot Díaz. To name just a few. This led to the creation of Time's Up – an initiative to get victims of sexual abuse in low-income jobs legal help, and push anti-harassment legislation.
Has it made its way to DC?
Yes. Last year, everyone found out that some senators had been settling sexual abuse claims with taxpayer dollars. And a lot of politicians resigned after allegations against them surfaced. To top it off, Congress requires an accuser to undergo counseling, mediation, and a "cooling off" period before filing a lawsuit. Earlier this year, the House unanimously passed a bill that would stop alleged harassers from using taxpayer money to settle claims. Big deal since the House rarely does anything unanimously. Then, the Senate finally passed a bill – different than the House bill. So, unclear what happens next.
What do critics say?
What about due process? That #MeToo makes things harder for men attempting to figure out how to act around women at work. That the media coverage around allegations is unfair and everyone needs to calm down.
What do supporters say?
That for a long time men have gotten away with sexual abuse, partly because women are either ignored or discredited when they come forward with an allegation. And this needs to be fixed by ending workplace sexism.
What can my elected reps do?
Your lawmakers both at the state and national level can help define what qualifies as sexual abuse in the workplace and set standards for legal action against alleged abusers.
The #MeToo movement has brought sexual abuse out from the shadows and into the national conversation. Candidates may be asked to address the issue to determine their willingness to create actionable change.