The case of Harvey Weinstein was one of the most prominent and talked-about cases that came to light thanks to the Me Too movement, which allowed a large number of women in film, and in a wide variety of industries to raise their voices about the abuse they received simply because they were women. This Monday, Harvey Weinstein was convicted of 2 of the charges against him in a New York court and may face up to 25 years behind bars. But exactly what does this mean for the Me Too movement, what has been accomplished so far, and what must be done to continue?
As if they were dominoes, after Weinstein’s case thousands of women raised their voices, at home and abroad, to denounce and expose situations of sexual harassment and abuse at work and in their daily lives. That these voices were heard and attended to, as it happened and continue to happen, shows an incipient change in our society, a change that came to stay and is reflected in all the actions that have been taken as a result of coming to light of the situations lived by these women. What happened with Weinstein, now in the hands of justice, is but the most prominent reflection of all that is happening in the film industry, and of the changes that our society needs to see in the world.
While this transformative movement, indicative of the violence against women that continues to exist in the world, was not only strong in the film industry, the disparity between gender and power in it made it one of the most affected. This is precisely why the changes are so evident. If we take into account that this is an industry in which we all have some form of participation, either directly or as spectators, this explains the strength of this movement in the beginning, and how it managed to promote women’s rights in so many other aspects and industries not related to film.
What happened with Weinstein not only led to the creation of the Me Too movement. Other important movements within the industry, such as the Time’s Up revolution (fueled a great deal by Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon and others including Oprah Winfrey), also sought and still seek to make women’s rights visible and respected, pursuing equality in wages and also in positions of power. What is important about these movements is that they are bringing about social change, not only in the film industry but also in a large number of places and spaces where women’s rights were ignored and violated for decades.
Over 80 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct that lasted decades, but the case did not take hold until late 2017 when The New York Times published an extensive report detailing many of the charges and calling for action. The article, and what happened afterward, is what we know today as the Me Too movement which, while founded more than a decade before this breakthrough occurred, it was the social networks in the wake of the scandal that functioned as amplification vehicles for millions of voices who were previously unable to tell their realities.
The Me Too movement, in addition, to directly and massively rebelling the classist, sexist and violent tendencies existing in the entertainment industry, also allowed a lot of actresses and workers to be supported in an atmosphere of containment and security, as well as seeking to bring the perpetrators of these situations to justice.
This Monday, February 24, the goal was achieved. Although the Weinstein case and its allegations were only the tip of the iceberg, the simple fact that the defendant was brought to trial and indicted is one of the greatest victories for the movement because it showed that, no matter how powerful a person may be, a woman’s rights must be respected and occupying a position of power will not be a guarantee for that person to get away with it, as was previously the case. Unfortunately, of the five charges against the former producer, only two were brought to trial, which did not qualify him for life imprisonment, something that was expected and would have been even more important, not only for the film industry but also for all those individuals and groups fighting for the advancement of women’s rights.
However, the fact that such a famous person in such a high position in the Hollywood production chain as Weinstein was was brought to trial and indicted, showed that nowadays no one is unpunished and that women’s rights are finally receiving the place they should always have had. The Me Too movement, with the prosecution and conviction of Weinstein, has not only shown that it works, but that it is at its peak, and that it will not stop until all cases of harassment and violence against women are stopped and charged once and for all.
And it is precisely there, in not stopping, that lies the point of focus that the movement must have in the coming months. It may seem that, after this important victory, everything is done and things can be solved on their own. However, the struggle for rights and the search for equality is not something that can happen for a while and then stops. If the Me Too movement stops, if critical voices are silenced and don’t illuminate all these situations of continued and blatant violation of rights, no one else will. To continue to have an effect, the Me Too movement must take Weinstein’s prosecution as a sign of its worth, and become stronger. The moment when we all stop looking to the side, join our voices in this quest for truth and justice, is when we will be able to say, with all conviction and once and for all, that we are really helping to create the change that we want to see reflected in our societies. We have the strength to do so, and it is in our hands to dare to use it to make a difference.