For its Person of the Year, Time has chosen “the silence breakers,” the women who helped spark our cultural reckoning with sexual harassment and assault by coming forward with allegations or supporting those of others. The women, as the magazine put it, “started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced.”
Here are some of the highlights from The Washington Post’s coverage of the movement throughout the year, in roughly chronological order:
Taylor Swift’s legal battle
Swift is on the Time cover in connection to her legal battle with former radio DJ David Mueller, which took place before #MeToo became a household phrase. Swift said Mueller put his hand under her skirt while taking a photo with her at a 2013 backstage meet-and-greet, and he said he was fired after she reported the incident to his employer. As part of our coverage of Mueller’s suit against Swift and her countersuit back in August (the jury ruled for her), Lavanya Ramanathan wrote her perspective on why many women could relate to the singer’s blunt testimony: On the stand in her groping case, Taylor Swift was every woman. And that’s what’s so sad.
The Harvey Weinstein allegations
After the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were first reported in the New York Times (including an accusation by Ashley Judd, who’s on the Time cover) and the New Yorker, Dan Zak and Monica Hesse, along with other reporters, spoke to 67 people in the producer’s orbit to chronicle his three-decade history of abuse. Read their story: Violence. Threats. Begging. Harvey Weinstein’s 30-year pattern of abuse in Hollywood.
Tarana Burke, creator of the “Me Too” phrase
In the wake of the Weinstein allegations, the #MeToo hashtag, which survivors used to tell their stories, started to trend on Sunday, Oct. 15, helped along by celebrities like Alyssa Milano. But the use of the phrase in the context of sexual misconduct has been credited to Tarana Burke (also recognized by Time), who created it via a MySpace page in 2006. Her movement came out of her time as an activist and organizer working with young girls in marginalized communities. Read Abby Ohlheiser’s story about her (The woman behind ‘Me Too’ knew the power of the phrase when she created it — 10 years ago) and Burke’s piece she wrote for The Post (#MeToo was started for black and brown women and girls. They’re still being ignored).
The Post also put out a call to survivors in the Washington area, who told their stories on video (#MeToo: A movement or a moment?).
Roy Moore and others accused in politics …
Last month, The Post set off a political firestorm with its story in which four women alleged that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had inappropriate relationships with them when they were age 18 or younger, including one when she was 14 years old (Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32). More allegations followed.
The Moore story led to the hashtag #MeAt14, in which women posted images of themselves when they were that age: Women respond to Roy Moore allegations by reminding the world what it looks like to be 14.
The Post also reported on allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), plus the resurfacing of the discussion of allegations against President Trump (‘My pain is everyday’: After Weinstein’s fall, Trump accusers wonder: Why not him?). Some senators shared their own #MeToo stories.
… media/entertainment …
A Post investigation by Irin Carmon and Amy Brittain reported on eight women who alleged Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls, and Paul Farhi wrote about allegations against NPR’s top editor, Michael Oreskes.
Other media and entertainment figures who have had repercussions from allegations include Kevin Spacey, John Lasseter, Garrison Keillor, Mark Halperin and the Metropolitan Opera’s James Levine, not to mention Bill O’Reilly earlier this year.
Steve Zeitchik spoke with almost a dozen publicists about how the scandals have thrown Hollywood’s “reputation management machine” into crisis mode. After the New York Times reported allegations of sexual misconduct against Louis C.K., Elahe Izadi wrote about how women in stand-up comedy face uphill battles even aside from sexual harassment (Grappling not only with Louis C.K., but sexism and power in comedy).
… and business
Danielle Paquette and Elizabeth Dwoskin investigated allegations of misconduct in the TED Talks empire. Dwoskin wrote about misconduct allegations against investor Steve Jurvetson, while Paquette wrote about issues such as how confidentiality agreements hurt — and help — victims of sexual harassment.
What happens when you report sexual harassment at work?
After interviews with eight women who reported sexual harassment at work, from an assembly-line worker to a prison guard, Jessica Contrera reported that “in many workplaces, the handling of these claims can be a hushed process, shrouded by confidentiality agreements and legal proceedings that can go on for years. … For many, the decision to report was as life-altering as the incident itself.” Read her story: They were sexually harassed at work. They reported it. Here’s what happened.
#MeToo in the restaurant industry
Maura Judkis and Emily Heil spoke to 60 workers in the restaurant industry who had stories of sexual harassment or assault. “The guy tried to feel me up, and I stuck a fork in his leg,” one of them said. Read their story: Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?
Not everyone felt the need to participate in #MeToo:
Some women had concerns about telling their stories in public, as chronicled in our stories by Ohlheiser and Lisa Bonos:
Let’s not forget…
While topics like sex slavery and rape amid war and genocide are not typically thought of when we think of the #MeToo movement, they are still sex-related crimes that affect millions around the world. Here is some of The Post’s coverage from 2017:
This post has been corrected to clarify that Tarana Burke wasn’t on the cover of Time but was recognized in the cover story.