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15th of October 2018

Health



One Year After #MeToo, Examining a Collective Awakening

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One Year After #MeToo, Examining a Collective AwakeningImageCreditCreditFranziska Barczyk

By Maya Salam

Oct. 5, 2018

Gender Letter helps you keep up with the world, and the women shaping it. Tell me what you think at dearmaya@nytimes.com.

One year ago today, The New York Times published a landmark investigation about how Harvey Weinstein had for decades paid off sexual harassment accusers.

Culturally, the article hit like a meteor, drastically altering the landscape around how sexual misconduct is perceived, sending the #MeToo hashtag viral and, in turn, triggering an avalanche of accusations against powerful men. It wasn’t long before #MeToo wasn’t just a turn of phrase — it was a movement.

That’s a lot for one year … and it felt like it.

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“We’ve never seen something like this before,” said Joan Williams, a professor at Hastings College of the Law who studies gender dynamics at work. Some Americans expected a similar domino affect after Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas in 1991, but it didn’t happen, she went on. #MeToo has caused a “norms cascade,” or “a very abrupt change in social norms,” she said.

In the months since, government organizations and advocacy groups like Rainn, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence group, have worked to meet the heightened demand spurred by #MeToo.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by Rainn, has seen about a 30 percent increase in calls since the rise of #MeToo, and last Friday — the day after Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee — was the busiest day in the hotline’s 24-year history.

This week, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which is administered by the nonprofit National Women’s Law Center, reported that more than 3,500 people in all 50 states had reached out for legal help with sexual harassment at work.

The fund, which has amassed $22 million in donations, was created in January to help working-class women — janitors, nurses, farm workers, those in service jobs — and defray legal costs associated with reporting harassment. So far, it has committed to funding 51 cases.

And in June, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that investigates harassment claims, reported that it had seen its web traffic triple since #MeToo took hold.

What will the next year bring?

It’s hard to know.

On Friday, Judge Kavanaugh cleared a crucial procedural vote in his quest for a Supreme Court seat, setting up a final vote as early as Saturday — despite allegations against him by multiple women and a late stand on Thursday by several thousand protesters.

If there is one thing that is clear, though, it’s that a collective awakening has occurred, and that the endurance of the #MeToo movement will continue to be tested.

Further reading

• “Have we helped the survivors who risked everything?” News organizations have dedicated abundant resources to sexual misconduct accusations in the past year, but whether this effort has had a tangible effect depends on who you ask. [Daily Beast]

• From Weinstein to Kavanaugh in one exhausting year. Women bared their souls, yet somehow men are casting themselves as victims, writes the author Roxane Gay. [New York Times Opinion]

• “It’s easy to ignore that there’s a problem.” Students weigh in on the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh and what conversations about consent look like on their campuses. [The New York Times]

• #MeToo plots hit television. Some shows collapse trauma into an episode, “chopping it into beats and bending it into arcs, but a few understand that the subject is big enough to fill whole seasons,” writes Amanda Hess, a Times culture critic. [The New York Times]

• In other news: Postpartum doulas fill a void in the United States health care system, where there is no program for new mothers the way there is in many other countries. [The New York Times]

• Secret safe houses. A group of Latina women across the country have been working in secret, turning their homes into shelters for abused immigrant women. [The California Sunday Magazine]

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From the archivesImage

Yep, this was a real headline in The New York Times — excerpted from a speech given by a woman named Ella Starr in April 1894.

Ms. Starr had given the speech — to a group known as the Professional Women’s League — after interviewing six bachelors, including a lawyer, a newspaper writer and a merchant.

She had asked each man the same question: Do men care for intelligent women?

“I should not want my wife to try to solve the problems of the future,” the merchant said.

“Men like the society of clever women, but they would rather marry fools,” said the lawyer.

And the newspaper writer said he’d want his wife to have “ordinary intelligence, and, above all, she must be a woman who will not nag those about her.”

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Tell me what you think at dearmaya@nytimes.com.

Maya Salam reports on gender issues for The New York Times. Follow her on Twitter @Maya_Salam.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A2 of the New York edition with the headline: #MeToo, One Year After Weinstein. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | SubscribeGender LetterWelcome to Gender Letter, a weekly newsletter on women, gender and pop culture. Sign up here or follow us on Instagram.The New York TimesWhat 18 Looks Like Around the World — Through Girls’ EyesFranziska BarczykDamaging a Man’s Good Name Versus Damaging a Woman’s LifeIllustration by Franziska Barczyk, Photos by Jennifer Law/Getty Images and Paul Hosefros, via The New York TimesChristine Blasey Ford Pushes Back: Here’s What Might Happen NextMore in U.S.Johnny Milano for The New York TimesAmong the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built ‘for the Big One’Gabriella Angotti-Jones/The New York TimesThousands in Florida May Not Get Electricity Back for WeeksChang W. Lee/The New York TimesIn Areas Hit by Hurricane Michael, Lines for Necessities Grow LongerJames Nord/Associated PressFirst Came a Flood of Ballot Measures From Voters. Then Politicians Pushed Back.D'Arreion Toles, via FacebookWoman Is Fired After Video Shows Her Blocking a Black Man From His CondoNhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News, via Associated PressTo Avoid More California Wildfires, a Utility Tries Shutting Off the PowerTrendingAmong the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built ‘for the Big One’Woman Is Fired After Video Shows Her Blocking a Black Man From His CondoJamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance: What We Know and Don’t KnowTrump Says ‘Rogue Killers’ May Be Involved in Saudi Journalist CaseOpinion: If You’re Not Scared About Fascism in the U.S., You Should BeElizabeth Warren Releases DNA Results on Native American AncestryPrince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce She’s PregnantHow an Unlikely Family History Website Transformed Cold Case InvestigationsM.I.T. Plans College for Artificial Intelligence, Backed by $1 BillionOpinion: Harvard and the Myth of the Interchangeable Asian

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