What’s Next for the #MeToo Movement?

More than nine months have passed since the #MeToo Movement opened up a much-needed conversation about sexual violence, gender equality, women’s human rights, and other related issues…

One courageous person at a time, the wounding that has been happening in the shadows is now moving into the light — creating a larger collective wave of healing, reconciliation, and social change.

And yet… there’s still a long journey ahead as we address the concrete shifts needed to move reforms forward in a significant and permanent way.

(This pathway forward was a primary topic of conversation during Shift Network’s recent #MeToo Dialogues. See below!)

In the months since the #MeToo movement began, many of us have experienced a constant onslaught of media sound bites around stories of predation and abuse. Yet there have not been enough public spaces for deep and raw dialogues, where we can more fully understand the implications of the complex stories that are emerging… and shine the light on the path moving forward.

It has been powerful to witness the many individuals that have found their voice as part of this collective sea change, and we need to encourage these new voices to continue speaking out in new and powerful ways.

But we now also need to marry these powerful words and stories with powerful action. Dr. Astrid Heger, another speaker in our dialogue series, finished her dialogue with a provocative question: “How do we energize the women in this country [and beyond] to take charge and make things happen?… All of the changes we’ve been able to bring about, they came from women…”

Women who feel inspired to take action would be wise to support the institutionalization of these changes by making significant legal shifts in the U.S. and beyond, as Marisa Tomei points out in her video interview below. And women can also lead the way by helping create policy shifts at organizations in every industry.

In addition, we need to seek out media that shares the stories of more women of color, as well as transexuals and gender-nonconforming people, who are not equally represented in most mainstream media.

It’s time to end the cycles of victim blaming and shaming, and instead offer witnessing, support, and resources for the ongoing healing journey.

And then, of course, there are the day-to-day shifts we can each make as we navigate the world.

If you feel the call to be part of this evolution, here are three powerful steps you can take right now from three leaders on the front lines:

  1. Dismantle the social and structural barriers to ending sexual violence.  

Tarana Burke, Civil Rights Activist, Founder of #MeToo Movement, reveals how to remove the social and structural barriers to equality and empowerment:

  • Continue to offer empowerment through empathy for survivors who need to be witnessed as part of the healing journey.
  • Dismantle the ecosystem that has allowed sexual predators to thrive.
  • Institutionalize this work so it’s sustained beyond a hashtag and beyond this moment of visibility.

2. Work to change the laws and provide access to funding.

Marisa Tomei, Academy Award-winning zctress and producer, shares her perspective from working within #TimesUp’s legal committee and on the key legal changes and ongoing support that are needed to create lasting change:

  • Change the statute of limitations so women are able to litigate sexual violence crimes (and other crimes) that occurred in the more distant past.
  • Continue to provide needed funding for victims to access the support they need through the #TimesUp fund and other vehicles.
  • Pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. so women living in this country will have the equal status we’ve never had under law. As unbelievable as it is, this legislation has not been ratified by enough states, so women don’t legally have equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.

3. Embrace a long-term strategy for social change.

Eve Ensler, playwright, performer, producer and activist, shares her wisdom gleaned from decades of work dedicated to end sexual violence — and reminds us that each new movement builds upon previous ones.

  • Be patient, as movements don’t just happen overnight! They take years of trust, friendship, listening, being criticized, being on the front lines… and more.
  • Honor the women who have come before us and build alliances with them. Integrate their wisdom, knowledge, and energy instead of brushing them aside.
  • Trust women on the front lines and take our lead from them.
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