#MeToo activists cautious about plans for long-term progress

Global Business

McDonald’s workers protest inside of a McDonalds restaurant in south Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, McDonald’s workers have voted to stage a one-day strike next week at restaurants in 10 cities in hopes of pressuring management to take stronger steps against on-the-job sexual harassment. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A year ago a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano with the hashtag #metoo started what’s been called a revolution for women.

The phrase had first been used in 2006 to raise awareness of undisclosed sexual assaults.

This time, it triggered an ongoing worldwide reckoning that has brought down powerful public figures.

As CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports, some in the U.S. aren’t sure what kind of lasting change it will bring.

It was one of the most powerful moments for the #metoo movement: democracy activist Ana Maria Archila cornering Republican Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator.

“I have two children,” she shouts at him. “I cannot imagine that for the next fifty years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?”

Archila was outraged that Flake was supporting the confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh despite allegations of sexual assault that dominated the global news agenda.

Once confirmed he would be able to shape the future of womens’ rights for the next generation and potentially beyond.

Alyssa Milano, The actress who resurrected the hashtag #MeToo almost 12 months earlier, was among those protesting Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment, even though he’d repeatedly denied sexual-misconduct allegations.

“I never tried to find justice for my pain because justice was never an option,” she told demonstrators outside the Supreme Court.

Now it might be.

#MeToo erupted worldwide when Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein was brought down by multiple sexual assault allegations from his past for which he’s now facing trial.

The effect has been profound for organizations like Futures Without Violence.

Kiersten Stewart, the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Futures Without Violence, said: “We think the me too moment is a turning point in the fights against sexual harassment and sexual violence.

“We’re seeing dramatically increased requests for things like technical assistance. So my organization trains employers and works with unions on how to get rid of sexual harassment.”

But data from the Pew Research Center shows sexual harassment in the workplace is as polarizing as any other political issue in the U.S. President Donald Trump has often been the target of metoo’s anger.

Nikki Graf, one of its research associates, said: “We find that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to see men getting away with it and women not being believed as major problems. For example, 60% of Democrats said women not being believed is a major problem compared with 28% of Republicans.”

And if this has been a turning point for women across the world, some advocates are cautious about what it can achieve.

Kiersten Stewart added: “Our U.S. Congress, for instance, hasn’t reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. It used to be easy and agreed upon and now we’re having to fight to get that passed.”

Even if that law act has been given a short-term reauthorization until early December, lawmakers may be forced into more long-term action if voters continue to channel this movement at the ballot box in next month’s Congressional elections.

Caren Goldberg discusses the impact the #MeToo movement has had on corporate culture

CGTN’s Jessica Stone spoke to Caren Goldberg about the impact the #MeToo movement has had on corporate culture.