Long Reads

Two years of the Me Too movement: read our most powerful essays

5 October 2019 marks two years since the #MeToo sparked a global movement. Here, we share our most powerful essays from the last 24 months.

It’s been two years 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.

24 months later, a lot has changed.

The disgraced Hollywood producer is currently awaiting trial for five charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act, rape in the first degree, and rape in the third degree. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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 two years 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 two years 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 2017, 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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“The huge problem with men’s silence on sexual abuse at the Golden Globes”

All eyes were on January’s Golden Globes ceremony in 2018 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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“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 third season, 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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“The Ulster rugby trial proves why women are scared to report rape”

Also in March 2018, 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 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 2018, 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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“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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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 2018, 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 2018. Freelance writer Moya Lothian-McLean explained why it means more to her now than ever before.

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The horror of the Brett Kavanaugh case proves women can’t afford to stop fighting

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After a year of great strides for the #MeToo movement a push back from regressive forces was inevitable. Writer Elle Griffiths examines what we learnt from the Brett Kavanaugh case.

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How #MeToo has affected our daily lives: Five women share their stories

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One year after the #MeToo movement went viral, five women recount how a global movement has affected their day-to-day lives. 

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The Philip Green saga proves NDAs shouldn’t be used in sexual harassment cases

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If the rich and powerful can simply silence their accusers, what was the point of the #MeToo movement? Moya Crockett examines the allegations against Philip Green.

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Amanda Bynes shouldn’t be begging for our forgiveness in a #MeToo world

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There’s a serious problem with the way we talk about fallen female stars, even after a year of #MeToo, says Daisy Buchanan.

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An open letter to men who think #MeToo means they can’t mentor women

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In a post-#MeToo world, many men report feeling uncomfortable about mentoring female colleagues. But it’s not hard to avoid being a creep – and women need good men to support their careers.

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Rose McGowan on leaving Hollywood behind and being an outsider in the wake of #MeToo

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Rose McGowan has always been an outsider. Here, she tells Stylist’s Anna Fielding why it’s the best place for an activist to be.     

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“What happened when I went to lobby my MP about workplace sexual harassment”

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Sexual harassment in the workplace remains a global problem, but how can we make a real change? Stylist’s Moya Crockett spends the day learning how to lobby.

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The Joe Biden allegations prove men don’t have to sexually harass women to make them feel uncomfortable

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Several women have accused potential presidential candidate Joe Biden of inappropriate touching. Invading someone’s space isn’t necessarily sexual harassment – but we should still talk about it.

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The best books to read in the post-#MeToo era

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As we continue to feel the after-effects of #MeToo, fiction can help us to process.

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“Why don’t we care more about Donald Trump’s sexual misconduct allegations?”

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Trump says the inquiry is "a witch hunt"

It’s been a week since writer E. Jean Carroll came forward with allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Where, asks Christobel Hastings, is the outrage?

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“My rape felt so ‘ordinary’ that I still have to convince myself it happened”

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“Despite #MeToo, I’m not sure we’ve collectively adjusted our comprehension of the word ‘rape’ to encapsulate experiences that feel ordinary. "

Warning: the following article may be triggering for some readers.

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She Said’s Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey: “Harvey Weinstein had all the power in Hollywood, but we had the facts”

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Together, they brought down Weinstein. Now, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey reveal what it took to break the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement.

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This piece was originally published in October 2018

To read more of our reporting on MeToo, click here

Images: Getty, Unsplash, Guy Bell

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