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2017: the year sexual predators were finally taken down in Hollywood

The social movement that changed the world.

By Lorna Gray
We've all heard of the snowball effect. 2017 was the avalanche of exposing sexual harassment.
So often all it takes is for one victim to bravely speak up before other victims come forward and the extent of perpetrators' actions are exposed. Powerful predators have long banked on the fact their victims are too afraid to tell.
"Nobody will believe you"
"I can make life very difficult for you"
"It was just a bit of fun"
"You had too much to drink"
Sadly it's often the case that one person who's suffered harassment or abuse is silenced. But this year, the power of social justice has not only exposed sexual predators - it's also shown victims they are not alone.
On 5 October 2017, The New York Times published an investigation detailing numerous claims of harassment against lauded Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein and at least eight settlements between Weinstein and his accusers.
The article and subsequent damning reports about Weinstein sparked a reckoning against sexual misconduct. Ten days after the initial expose, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet."
The former Charmed actress and actress asked people who'd been sexually harassed or abused to tweet #Metoo in solidarity.
Nobody could've predicted the extent of the avalanche that followed.
The #MeToo hashtag amassed nearly a million tweets in 48 hours. People bravely spoke out about times they'd been sexually harassed and sexually assaulted.
Experiences varied from being harassed in the street or at work, with many saying they had to leave their jobs because of it. Others spoke of being raped or sexually assaulted.
The responses were truly heartbreaking and came from famous and non-famous people alike.

Tarana Burke is the original mastermind behind the #MeToo hashtag. She started it as a grassroots movement in 2006 to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities "where rape crisis centres and sexual assault workers weren't going."
"I could never had envisioned something that would change the world. I was trying to change my community," Burke told NBC.
The hashtag rapidly exposed Hollywood as a cesspit for sexual predators in October and many high-profile stars saw their reputations shattered as victims came forward in their droves.
Over 80 women have made allegations against Harvey Weinstein so far - some of these allegations include rape.
High-profile actresses including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, [Kate Beckinsale] and Salma Hayek were among those who shared stories about the previously untouchable producer.
Pandora's box was well and truly opened and suddenly huge names were also being accused of misconduct.
The list of high-profile men who now stand accused of sexual harassment and sexual abuse is seemingly endless - Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, Dustin Hoffman and Ben Affleck to name but a few.
Even the president of the United States Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by at least 15 women.
A few male celebrities also revealed they'd been harassed or abused with Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek coming forward.
Post continues after video: Hollywood's worst sexual assault scandals
The #MeToo social movement has been so pervasive, Time magazine made it their 'person of the year' cover. Their December cover, which usually features the most influential person of the year, instead featured 'silence breakers' who've come up against sexual harassment.
Celebrities Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift, Uber engineer Susan Fowler, lobbyist Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker from Mexico whose name was changed to protect her identity all feature on the cover of Time.
A sixth person is also featured but only her arm is visible as she is an anonymous hospital worker who suffered sexual harassment but doesn't want to be identified for fear of the effect it could have on her family.
Post continues after video: Time magazine announces 'person' of the year
There's no doubt that Hollywood has carried the torch for the #MeToo movement. But harassment is prevalent in Australia too.
An open letter titled 'Me No More' was recently started by women working in the Aussie music industry. The letter aims "to create a safe haven for people to share their stories and seek support around sexual harassment in the music industry." It's been signed by the likes of Tina Arena, Missy Higgins and The Veronicas.
Going forward in 2018, we have a real chance to learn from the past. To learn from these horrific stories bravely shared on social media. To learn that together we are stronger and that even 'powerful' predators can be brought down.
2017 should be remembered for being groundbreaking. A social movement created shockwaves throughout the world.
But now, we have to continue to fight. To make perpetrators accountable and continue to push for greater social change.
Sexual harassment is wrong whether it be a leery comment, slap on the backside or more.
Matt Damon recently tried to distinguish it during an interview with Peter Travers.: "There's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn't be conflated, right?"
Ignoring the fact Matt Damon may well have been complicit when it came to the behaviour of those around him (Weinstein, Affleck...), this statement perpetuates the myth some sexual harassment is less severe when actually, every action creates the overall culture.
Alyssa Milano whose '#MeToo' tweet sparked the reckoning in October sums it up best in her retort to Damon:
"Dear Matt Damon,
It's the micro that makes the macro.
We are in a "culture of outrage" because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous.
I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak. They all hurt. And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted--even welcomed-- misogyny.
We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.
We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.
There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it's still cancer.
Sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and violence is a systemic disease. The tumor is being cut out right now with no anesthesia. Please send flowers. #MeToo"
This is exactly why there needs to be greater education of sexual harassment. 2017 was monumental in bringing it to the surface - can 2018 help take big steps in eradicating it?
As mothers, wives, daughters, nieces, we can make our voices heard when it comes to 'banter' that's actually harassment.
We applaud everyone who shared a #MeToo story and stand with those who couldn't bring themselves to share stories of abuse.
And remember - just two little words caused this avalanche. Me Too.
If you or someone you know needs to talk about any of these issues, contact ReachOut, RAINN or Lifeline for support and advice