Abcarian: On the fifth anniversary of the #MeToo movement, the reckoning continues
On 5 July 2018, feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem gave a powerful speech at the United Nations in New York, on the global #MeToo movement. The speech was not merely about the movement’s first five years (it was the first time it had come close to that milestone), but about the issues it represents, on which Steinem was adamant: “There’s a lot of pressure on us to focus on the sexual harassment of women rather than the women’s rights to health care, to education, to freedom of expression …” she said.
On that 5 July, Steinem was speaking at the United Nations Women’s Summit on Gender Equality in International Trade, the first ever of its kind. Over the course of the speech she urged her fellow women of the world to stand on the world stage and lead the world into full gender equality.
She said afterwards, “I have the conviction that we can and we must change the laws of the United Nations to require the United Nations to be a gender equality body. I think that change is possible.” The speech, she said afterwards, had been “a very courageous and brave act.”
It now seems that on that 5 July, Steinem’s message was not only one to be taken on board, but also to be embraced, and that #MeToo is an example of what happens when those two things happen: it spreads. Five years later, its momentum and the accompanying resistance and action it has inspired, are still continuing, with one of their main actors, Time’s Up, and the new movement that is now taking its place, the Global Network of Women Human Rights Defenders, making their way into the world.
The global #MeToo movement, with its many women, is an example of how the power of a movement really is determined by its structure, rather than the women and men who initially