Five years on, key ‘MeToo’ voices take stock of the movement

Once again, disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein sits in a courtroom at trial in Los Angeles while the count of charges against him marks a significant milestone this month: It’s been five years since a brief hashtag – #MeToo – A broad social galvanized motion.

The Associated Press goes back to Luisette Geis and Andrea Constand, accused in two of the most important cases of the #MeToo era — Weinstein, already convicted in the New York case, and Bill Cosby, once convicted and now free. – to learn that their lives have changed, whether they have any regrets, and how hopeful they feel after a certain mixed bag of legal consequences.

And we spoke to the woman who originally coined the phrase — Tarana Burke, a longtime advocate for survivors of sexual violence and a survivor herself — about her journey, the movement’s resilience, and the challenges ahead.

Lewisette Geass: A Sue and a Musical

Overall, Luisette Geiss considers herself one of the lucky ones: When she tried to escape from a hotel room to escape Harvey Weinstein’s alleged advances, the door swung open. She was able to escape.

Geiss, a former actress and screenwriter who, in 2017, accused Weinstein of attempting to force her to watch him masturbate in a hotel bathroom in 2008, is the principal plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against her former studio. was.

But fighting through the justice system—an experience that has greatly disappointed him—was not the only means by which Geass attempted to cope. He has also written a musical.

“The Right Girl” was put on hold by the pandemic, but will be made live on stage sometime in 2023. The show, with a high-profile production team that includes songwriter Diane Warren, tells the story of three women at different levels of power in a workplace. Haunted by a serial sexual predator.

“Finally, you see the judicial system is still not in the right place to take him down,” Geiss said. “It’s really society that gets him down.”

It is a reflection of Geis’s view that the latter has moved faster than the former to assimilate the lessons of #MeToo, though still incomplete.

“I think the MeToo movement definitely gave poachers pause to act on their swarms,” ​​she said. “I think they’ve been warned. And so they’re less likely to do it, but I think they’re still doing it.”

Sometimes, yes, he regretted coming forward. She was concerned about the effect on her children, now 7 and 5 – her youngest was only weeks old when the affair exploded. But it was also her children that made her realize she had to fight.

“Finally, in order to make a big difference for the sake of women and children — for your child, and for my children — it was important that I step up and do it,” she said.

Which is why Geis, 48, continues to encourage young survivors to speak up—even if she understands why they don’t want to.

“You don’t want your name to be synonymous with Weinstein. Neither do I,” he told them about his pitch. “But think what? They’re not going to go away unless we keep yelling about it.”

Andrea Constand: ‘It was the right thing to do’

For Andrea Constand, the main accused in the Cosby criminal case, the past five years have been turbulent, to say nothing of the past decade.

Cosby’s lawyers loudly ridiculed him as a “con artist” during the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era in 2018. Yet a jury convicted the aging comedian of drugging and sexual assault in 2005, and a judge sent him to prison. Then, a Pennsylvania appeals court set Cosby free last year.

Constand went to the police a year after the encounter with Cosby, which he said was consensual. A prosecutor refused to press charges, later saying that he had secretly promised Cosby that he would never be charged – a hotly debated claim that eventually led to the conviction. And the first jury to hear her case in 2017 could not reach a verdict.

During the storm of years, Konstand remained calm. He believes that it is still the early days of the movement.

Constand, 49, said, “I think it was a much-needed time to be able to address the issue of how serious sexual violence is – in the boardroom, in corporations, in the entertainment industry and generally everywhere.” ” It’s months from her home near Toronto, a rural retreat she says brings solitude and peace.

“A lot of trauma was released,” she said. “Keeping a secret can really make you sick.”

The AP does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted, unless they have come out in public.

She continues to work as a massage therapist, while inspiring lawmakers to adopt a legal definition of consent. As jurors from both Cosby’s Pennsylvania trial and Weinstein in New York deliberated, they asked for a definition—but the law was silent in both states.

She has written a memoir, and started a foundation to help survivors of sexual assault through their physical, spiritual and emotional recovery. It has also created a mobile app where the victim can seek trauma-informed services.

Constand said of his 2006 police complaint, “I had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

But despite all the ups and downs, “it was the right thing to do,” she concluded, citing #MeToo movements around the world.

“You have…everyone coming out of that shame and out of that silence,” she said.

Tarana Burke: Keeping the momentum going

Harvey Weinstein. R Kelly. Bill Cosby. Two are in jail, one has been released.

And not precisely to measure the success of the #MeToo movement, says Tarana Burke – in the form of a scorecard of high-profile “wins” and “losers” and through the lens of celebrity.

Instead, advocates for sexual violence survivors say, cultural change should be the key metric. And by that standard, she says, the movement has achieved an “astonishing” amount of money in five years.

“Five-and-a-half years ago, we couldn’t have an ongoing global conversation about sexual violence that was framed inside social justice. It was always framed inside crime and punishment, or celebrity gossip,” she said.

Burke, 49, coined “Me Too” as part of his advocacy work more than a decade before actor Alyssa Milano’s hashtagged tweets in the wake of the Weinstein allegations exploded.

Just six months ago, Burke recalls, she was on an event retreat in California, handing out T-shirts and dreaming of how she could revive her work and join Black colleges and universities to raise awareness. Can raise enough money to tour. When the headlines shifted to #MeToo later in 2017, her first concern was that the work behind her phrase would be cooped up. But he soon realized that he had a huge opportunity.

“The kind of change we need to see lasting change we’re still working on. But the change we’ve made in the last five years will take 20 years to happen (without #MeToo), and it’s unbelievable. ,” He said. Told.

Burke has built up an organization to promote the movement over the years, and has published a crude memoir, “Unbound,” which includes an article about how she herself was raped when she was seven years old.

Burke proudly notes that a new Pew study shows more than twice the support of Americans as opposed to #MeToo. But, she says, the struggle remains, especially in terms of bringing black, Indigenous, trans and disabled women into the conversation and fundraising.

The goal now is to continue the momentum and restore the initial enthusiasm.

Burke likes to remind people that within the first year, nearly 19 million people took to Twitter to say “me too,” attesting to their own experiences in a powerful collective count.

“That’s why we have a movement that can’t be ignored,” Burke says.

Follow AP Legal Affairs Writer MarieClaire Dale on Twitter at and AP National Writer Jocelyn Noweck at

Author: Sayyed Azhar

Experienced News Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the news media industry. Skilled in News Writing, Advertising, Headline Writing, Breaking News, and Editing.

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