The Globalisation of #MeToo

2016 was thought to be a year that shook the world. Actors and actresses and musicians passed away, shootings and police stories of violence were everywhere, and Donald Trump was elected President. 2017 has been terrible for different reasons, but possibly more important for the course of human history. In recent months, the Harry Weinstein sexual harassment scandal shook the world, not just because such a big name in the movie business had committed this horrendous act again and again, but because it was soon revealed to the public that so many others had as well. While the argument could be made that this was simply a problem that was affecting the Hollywood movie industry, America’s natural soft power, especially through the movies which are exported and translated to such a large part of the world, made this much more of a global issue, and one that politicians are slowly having to adjust themselves to. From actors to politicians, musicians to comedians, no branch of men in power has been untouched by this. What impact will these scandals have, if any, on other states keeping this in mind? The answer is: more than you would think.


While this was just a Hollywood problem and politicians and their constituents could write it off as simply one that juice cleanse obsessed womanizers had involved themselves in, and a problem to address solely in that industry, the sudden exposing of so many others such as politicians in powerful offices and trusted men in power means that the problem began to reveal more issues with the global society at large.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, 2015. Some rights reserved.


While the Bill Clinton scandal with Monica Lewinsky back in the 1990s was seen as problematic, it has now become a joke, a woman looking to blackmail a man in power for money. The frequency of these problems now has revealed an underlying issue. This current scandal has exposed numerous politicians from all different places and positions of power. Al Franken, a U.S. senator, was accused of sexual harassment of two women, including forcibly kissing and groping. Jeff Hoover, Kentucky speaker of the House, was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate text messages. Roy Moore, a judge and politician from Alabama, was accused of sexual misconduct with five teenagers. Those are just the infamous American cases. In Britain, ‘over the past month, allegations about sexual misconduct in politics have led to the resignation of Michael Fallon as defence secretary, investigations into two senior ministers, Damian Green and Mark Garnier, and the suspension of the whip from Conservative backbencher Charlie Elphicke. Tory MPs Dan Poulter, Daniel Kawczynski, Stephen Crabb and Chris Pincher have been referred to their party’s internal disciplinary procedures.’ Several MPs have also been suspended for various parties. One of Theresa May’s most senior officials has been accused of possessing pornographic material. The list goes on. France’s Macron has been handed a petition already with 100,000 signatures in three days to treat sexual harassment in the work place as a national emergency. The Facebook movement of the #MeToo worked with globalization to create a global movement. Awareness of the problem is spreading, and politicians are being asked to address it.


Donald Trump, the man who so callously was filmed saying ‘Grab her by the pussy’, insisted upon supporting Senate candidate Roy S. Moore despite his party’s protests. He himself has been, he feels “wrongly” accused of being a sexual predator, and claims that the women are lying. Sparked by a fear that this man is the President of the United States and questions about what this means for the society that elected him, women are beginning to speak out. Most are prepared to listen.

What implications does this have for the world at large? What implications does this have for state relations? If this movement can truly take off, then it will mean that many men in power will soon, at the cries of their constituents, find themselves out of a job. Much like what is happening in the U.K. and in the U.S., many political seats will be left available to be filled, perhaps by sorely unrepresented women, or, at the very least, by men that aren’t found to have a history of such crimes. France is demanding that this be treated as a national emergency; will other states do the same? The fact that three of the main seats on the Security Council are faced with this problem, the fact that in each case their influence is so global, that these stories are all over the press, leads one to wonder if the rest of the world might begin to recognize a problem too. For some, such sexualisation of gender is innate in the culture, and this is a difficult task to overcome.


In the U.S., part of this difficulty is due to acts such as the The Congressional Accountability Act which means that women often have to suffer in silence with their aggressors and are unable to add their voice to the many coming forward. However, if there is enough of a movement behind it, these laws can change. If these laws can change in the U.S., in a country where the President himself has been accused of being an aggressor, this could serve as proof that change can happen.

Globalization means that all states are more or less interconnected, through trade, technology, or state relations. Why can’t a movement spread through one of these routes? Why can’t a Facebook hashtag, used to demonstrate the breadth of the problem, help to bring about real change in states?