On October 15 of last year, Alyssa Milano took to Twitter and encouraged her followers to raise awareness of sexual abuse and harassment by using the hashtag #MeToo. The phrase had previously been popularized in 2006 by abuse survivor Tarana Burke. This time around, it developed more traction because it coincided with a series of revelations about famous men guilty of abusing their power for sexual gain.
A week before Milano’s tweet, Harvey Weinstein was the subject of a revelatory New York Times article, and in quick succession, a light was shined on Lawrence G. Nassar, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, and Russell Simmons. In December, Time magazine named the “Silence Breakers” its 2017 Persons of the Year.
The momentum continued to build. For men who were watching from the sidelines, there were mixed emotions. Certainly, no one was defending Weinstein, but for some, the situations surrounding Aziz Ansari and James Franco fell into a confusing gray area. And it was hard to have a conversation about having mixed feelings without being shouted down for failing women or being a supporter of assault and harassment. The movement needed time to breathe without a bunch of dudes poking holes in it.
Still, when people are reprimanded for asking questions, all it teaches them is to stop asking. It doesn’t get them on your side or help them on the road to an epiphany. Considering this, we wanted to offer a place to start these discussions. In February, we asked readers to submit questions they had in light of the #MeToo movement and the harassment revelations, and we submitted them to a group of smart women with a comprehensive understanding of gender, consent, and the critical issues at the center of the movement.
Please read through their answers and jump into the comments with your thoughtful, balanced reactions. We think this is a discussion that is important and ongoing.