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One year of #MeToo: A timeline of events

Silke Wünsch eg
October 15, 2018

After several women publicly accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, #MeToo, the hashtag that would become the emblem of a worldwide movement of empowerment, was launched a year ago.

#metoo banner
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/M. Fludra

On October 5, 2017, The New York Times published the article "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades."

Several female actors claimed that Hollywood's most powerful movie mogul had sexually abused and coerced them. Many actors' careers were only made possible by being in the good graces of the powerful producer. 

Everyone in the industry seemed to know about what was going on, but it was deliberately overlooked.

October 15, 2017: 

Ten days later, Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this sentence: 

And tens of thousands took up her call. 

Far beyond Hollywood's glimmering lights, all over the world, women who had experienced similar violence made their voices heard under #MeToo. Men as well. The hashtag was used some 200,000 times on Twitter in just the first day.

By day two, that number had risen to more than half a million. Women and men briefly described what had happened to them.

Milano received answers to her post that were shocking, even despite — or perhaps because of — their brevity: "I was nine…" Women wrote about grandfathers, stepfathers, bosses, and neighbors. And pain — pain that would not go away even as the years went by.

The hashtag #MeToo started trending on Twitter in more than 85 countries, spurring offshoots in other languages.

Victims revealed cases from the music industry, as well as from politics and the business world. Names such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump were heard, but high-ranking politicians in other countries also were accused.

Here's a look back at events that happened after the breakthrough scandal. 

October 24, 2017:

The scandal reached the fashion industry. Condé Nast, the publisher behind magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ announced it would no longer be hiring photographer Terry Richardson, after a Sunday Times article asked why he was still working for prestigious fashion magazines despite being regularly accused of sexual assault.   

In January 2018 the influential photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber were also suspended from working with different fashion magazines after a New York Times article published testimonies of models accusing them of sexually exploiting them. 

European Parliament member Terry Reintke holding a placard with the hashtag "MeToo"
European Parliament member Terry Reintke holding a placard with the hashtag "MeToo" Image: Reuters/C. Hartmann

October 25, 2017:

The European Parliament member from Germany and Green Party politician Terry Reintke had already described in September how she had been a victim of a sexual attack in the German city of Duisburg.

In the aftermath of the #MeToo debate, the EU Parliament decided to deal with similar occurrences within its walls. The legislature passed a resolution: Cases of harassment and assault were to be investigated, cleared up and sanctioned.

October 29, 2017:

Actor Anthony Rapp claimed through the online magazine BuzzFeed that House of Cards lead actor Kevin Spacey had made unwanted sexual advances toward him when he was 14. 

Spacey came out as gay in an apology to Rapp. A growing number of men also accused the star of sexual misconduct, including 20 employees of London's Old Vic theater. Spacey was artistic director at the Old Vic theater in London between 2004 and 2015. 

Netflix ended House of Cards  without him and Ridley Scott reshot Spacey's scenes in his already completed filmAll the Money in the World, replacing the disgraced actor with Christopher Plummer. 

November 1, 2017:

Author Anna Graham Hunter wrote in Hollywood Reporter column "Dustin Hoffman Sexually Harassed Me When I Was 17," recounting her experience as an intern on the set of the 1985 film Death of a Salesman.

In the following weeks six more women revealed their similar cases from the 70s and 80s.  

That same day, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon stepped down. According to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian, Fallon had inappropriately touched journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer multiple times on the knee during a dinner back in 2002, until she threatened to slap him.

November 12, 2017:

Hundreds of women, men and children came together in Hollywood to attend a "Me Too Survivors" march. They paraded down Hollywood Boulevard with signs and banners in protest against sexual abuse and rape. Their path also led them over the Walk of Fame, the sidewalk filled with the stars of legendary Hollywood figures, some of whom stood accused.

Swedish Academy postpones Nobel

November 24, 2017:

The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature every year, was also rocked by a scandal. The husband of one of the academy's members was accused of sexual assault. His name was later revealed; French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault was also a prominent figure of Sweden's cultural scene. 

In October 2018, he was  found guilty of rape.

December 6, 2017:

Time magazine announced its annual Person of the Year. Following Angela Merkel (2015) and Donald Trump (2016), it chose "The Silence Breakers," people who had spoken out as part of the #MeToo movement.

The accompanying article included the original founder of the term "MeToo," Tarana Burke, as well as stars such as Taylor Swift and Ashley Judd. The magazine underlined that its yearly selection was about honoring people who, in whatever form, impact social debates. In 2017, the magazine said, these people were the innumerable "Silence Breakers."

January 1, 2018:

Over 300 women from the US film industry started the foundation "Time's Up" against sexual harassment. Hollywood stars such as Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julienne Moore, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Susan Sarandon, Uma Thurman and Cate Blanchett are among its supporters. The fund provides subsidized legal support to people who have experienced sexual harassment.

January 3, 2018:

The first specific allegations in the German film industry were made. Actresses and former co-workers accused director Dieter Wedel of violent and sexual harassment in the 1990s.

Back then, Wedel was in charge of highly successful German TV films and series — and known for his iron-fisted approach on set. Several actresses spoke of harassment, even rape, in hotel rooms. Wedel denied the allegations and announced he would take legal action.

January 6, 2018:

At the Golden Globes Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, most guests showed up dressed in black out of solidarity with the #MeToo movement and the victims of sexual violence.

Oprah Winfrey made a rousing speech. "For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up," the talk show host said.

Nobody, she added, should ever have to say "me too" again. The audience and millions of TV viewers were so enthralled by Winfrey's words that many would like to see her as a candidate for the next US presidential election.

January 9, 2018:

French film star Catherine Deneuve  and 100 other French celebrity women published an open letter in newspaper Le Monde, harshly criticizing the "denunciation campaign" against men. "Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense," the women wrote.

April 26, 2018:

Comedy star Bill Cosby was found guilty in a sexual assault trial based on a case from 2004. Many other women came out with similar accusations.

On September 25 he was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. 

August 20, 2018:

The New York Times reported that actor Asia Argento, one of the prominent Harvey Weinstein accusers, had allegedly assaulted former co-star Jimmy Bennett while he was still a minor. 

September 27, 2018:

A hearing was held to question US Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused him of sexually assaulting her while they were in high school. 

A whirlwind FBI investigation was conducted after the testimony. The Senate voted to appoint Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Judge on October 6, a controversial decision that was seen as a setback for the #MeToo movement.

October 5, 2018:

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad  for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.