Long Reads

A year of #MeToo: our most powerful essays

“MeToo represent hundreds of thousands of forced smiles, un-dodged squeezes, ignored refusals and horror. In stockrooms and staffrooms, in bathrooms and boardrooms.”

It’s been a year since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein first came to light and sparked an unprecedented global movement in which women (and men) came forward in their millions to say #MeToo.

12 months later, a lot has changed.

The disgraced Hollywood producer currently stands accused of sexually assaulting, abusing or raping more than 80 women, while numerous other high-profile men, including Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, James Franco and Ed Westwick, have also faced allegations. These men have been removed from companies, erased from films and stripped of accolades. The message is clear: enough is enough.

But while great strides have been made, there is still a long way to go; you need only look at the case of Brett Kavanaugh for proof. It is up to all of us to stand, together, and fight for the change we know we deserve.

Here, Stylist takes a look back over the past 12 months by revisiting some of our most powerful and memorable essays, to celebrate all that the #MeToo movement has achieved so far, and to inspire further action in the next year and beyond.

Us too: it’s time to make every Harvey Weinstein feel small

In the weeks after the allegations against Weinstein first came to light, Stylist urged our readers to speak up. You can revisit the empowering cover feature, written by associate editor Anna Fielding, by clicking the link below.

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“Why all men must take responsibility for stamping out sexual harassment and abuse”

The #MeToo movement quickly proved that sexual abuse was not just a women’s issue and, in response, men took to social media with pledges to take responsibility under the hashtag #HowIWillChange. Freelance journalist Patrick Clarke explained the lessons men could learn from the early days of the movement – and how he planned to change his own behaviour in response.

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Why that cropped elbow on Time’s Person of the Year cover matters so much

In December, Time magazine was widely criticised for seemingly cropping one of ‘The Silence Breakers’ off of their prestigious 2017 Person of the Year cover. However, the stray elbow actually made an incredibly powerful statement about reporting sexual assault – as Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray explained.

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#MeToo should be about calling out men’s bad behaviour – not assauging their guilt

As women (rightly) started leading the conversation around sexual assault under #MeToo, it quickly became apparent they were also being made responsible for shouldering the emotional labour of men’s guilt. Freelance writer Emily Reynolds explained why this was so problematic, and looked for a solution.

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Lucy Mangan: “2018 is our year to take real action”

As January rolled around, marking the start of a new year, Stylist’s columnist Lucy Mangan explained the need to keep the momentum of #MeToo going throughout 2018 – and beyond.

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“The huge problem with men’s silence on sexual abuse at the Golden Globes”

All eyes were on January’s Golden Globes ceremony as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements continued to gain momentum across the globe. But while the majority of women at the awards wore black in solidarity with the movements, and made impassioned speeches about the importance of the cause, the men of Hollywood remained silent. That choice spoke volumes.

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Powerful stories from the women who confronted sexual predator Larry Nassar

The known number of women and girls who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former US gymnastics team doctor, currently stands at 265, after more and more of his victims came forward under #MeToo. Stylist’s digital commissioning editor Sarah Biddlecombe shares some of their stories.

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“What the Aziz Ansari story tells us about our attitudes to sex and trauma”

In early January, Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual assault, leading to a global debate about the meaning of consent. Here, Stylist’s digital women’s editor Moya Crockett argues that not every negative sexual encounter can be classed as assault - but that this doesn’t mean these experiences are unworthy of discussion.

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“Why I recognised myself in the Aziz Ansari allegations”

As the conversation around consent continued, three women reflected on how the allegations made against the comedian had affected them.

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“Why this Black Mirror episode is the most important one so far”

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has always tapped into our collective unease about the modern world, with its sharp, suspenseful and satirical stand-alone dramas often exploring our techno-paranoia in great detail. In its latest season, which dropped in January, one episode was almost entirely dedicated to the ongoing conversation about #MeToo and sexual misconduct – in its own bitterly unique way…

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“Why we must boycott art produced by men accused of sexual assault”

As more and more men in Hollywood were accused of sexual assault and abuse, one question consistently arose: do we have a collective responsibility to boycott their films? Absolutely, argued freelance writer Laura Jane Williams.

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“No model should be afraid to go to work”

Accusations of sexual exploitation and misconduct were levelled against photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber at the beginning of 2018, marking the fashion industry’s turn to come under the spotlight for scandals that had been subdued and ignored for years. Here, Stylist’s fashion director Arabella Greenhill explained why the industry’s reckoning was long overdue.

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“Ryan Seacrest proves that the burden of dealing with assault still falls on women”

In March, presenter Ryan Seacrest was accused of assault by his former personal stylist, Suzie Hardy. Despite this, he was still a prominent figure on the 2018 Oscars red carpet, where he was interviewing attendees for E! – including many who had been vocal in their support for #MeToo. Not only did this put the supporters in an incredibly difficult position, it also proved the burden of assault still falls with women – five months after the #MeToo movement began.

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“The Ulster rugby trial proves why women are scared to report rape”

Also in March, rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were acquitted of rape while two others, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, were acquitted of exposure and perverting the course of justice, respectively. Following the decision, made while #MeToo was still at the forefront of people’s minds, #IBelieveHer quickly began trending on social media, as people pledged their solidarity to the victim. As details of the trial came to light, freelance writer Elle Griffiths wrote on why the case confirmed every woman’s worst fears about reporting sexual assault.

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“Why #IBelieveHer is the only positive to be found in the Ulster rape verdict”

Male codes of silence may frequently win out in cases such as the Ulster rape case detailed above – but, this time, there was one big difference.

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“Why I stand with the unnamed woman at the centre of the Ulster rape trial”

Following the furore around his acquittal, Paddy Jackson eventually made a public apology for his treatment of the woman at the centre of the trial. Here, freelance writer Sarah Arnold, who chose not to report her own experiences of sexual assault, explained why she chose to stand firm in her support of the anonymous victim.

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Why we need to talk about R Kelly’s immunity to the #MeToo movement

By April, the public takedown of Harvey Weinstein had changed the cultural landscape irrevocably – yet inexplicably, R Kelly remained unaffected by even the most atrocious allegations against him. Freelance writer Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff asked why women of colour were being ignored under the global movement.

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An open letter to all sexual assault survivors

As fresh allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled at R Kelly, who had already proven his immunity to such accusations, Natalia Ribbe, who was sexually assaulted by her boss, wrote an open letter of support to survivors everywhere

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“A TV show about the #MeToo men? Spare me the redemption narrative”

Still in April, just six months after the #MeToo movement began, news came to light that a TV network was reportedly working on a show exploring how accused men have been affected by #MeToo. It was really was not what the world needed at that point…

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“The men of Arrested Development need to check their f**king privilege”

The show had become nothing more than the story of three wealthy men who were willing to excuse everything, and the disgusted fans who were forced to listen to their gaslighting, as Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray explained.

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“In the face of male mockery, we must stand behind Terry Crews”

Actor Terry Crews, who says he was sexually assaulted by a male movie executive, has remained a vocal male voice in the #MeToo movement – but in June, he was still being ridiculed by peers such as 50 Cent. Here, we pledged our support.

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“How the #MeToo movement gave us the power to speak out on sexual harassment”

After keeping quiet for years about suffering sexual harassment from senior colleagues, author Emilie Pine explained how the #MeToo movement gave her the courage to speak out against the men who had abused their power over her for years.

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No, Lindsay Lohan, talking about harassment doesn’t make women “look weak”

Over the course of #MeToo, Lindsay Lohan made a number of problematic comments about sexual assault and harassment, especially around women’s choice of whether or not to report what had happened to them. But she was not alone; her words reflected the widespread and misplaced belief that there is strength in silence.

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‘I was upskirted. I spoke out. This is what happened’

After a man took a photo up her skirt at a music festival, Gina Martin launched a campaign to make upskirting illegal in the UK. As she continued her work on changing the law, she told Stylist why women should never have to accept assault as part of their daily lives.

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Women discuss the conversations they’ve had with men about #MeToo

10 months on since the first explosive story about Harvey Weinstein was published in The New Yorker, women shared the conversations they had had with various men in their lives about the #MeToo movement.

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“We can’t turn a blind eye when feminists are accused of sexual misconduct”

In August, The New York Times ran a piece stating that Asia Argento had paid off a young man who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was below the age of consent. The story made for uncomfortable reading, as Argento had been one of the most vocal women in the #MeToo movement, having alleged that Weinstein raped her when she was 21. Here, Stylist argued why we should face that unease, rather than look away from it.

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We need to discuss this Netflix show’s portrayal of sex and consent

As the conversation about consent continued to go mainstream, one show in particular stood out for tackling the topic so well: The End of the F**king World, which Netflix has since commissioned for a second series. Here, we explained why its portrayal of sex and consent was so powerful – and so vitally important.

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The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is more relevant than ever in the #MeToo era

Lauryn Hill’s seminal debut album turned 20 at the end of August. Stylist’s editorial assistant Moya Lothian-McLean explained why it means more to her now than ever before.

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How the #MeToo movement helped bring Bill Cosby to justice

It took almost an entire year, but at the end of September, Bill Cosy became the first celebrity to be convicted and sentenced following the #MeToo movement. Here, we take a closer look at how #MeToo helped bring him to justice.

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You can read more of Stylist’s coverage of #MeToo here

Images: Getty, Rex, Unsplash, Erin Aniker