Women's voices: from slavery to the #metoo movement
In October 2017, following sexual abuse allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, the viral spread of the #MeToo hashtag on social media sparked an unprecedented global wave of women disclosing their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment. Within a 24 hour period the #MeToo hashtag was tweeted more than 500,000 times and featured in 12 million Facebook posts. For many, this represented a watershed moment of social progress. But what lessons does history hold for the #MeToo movement?
The end of the American Civil War offered emancipated African Americans equal protection under the law for the first time - including granting black women the right to bring rape charges against white men. Similarly to #MeToo, the period saw an escalation of disclosures of sexual violence, with black women seizing upon the opportunity to redefine their past abusive relationships with white men.
In this lecture, Elizabeth Barnes recounted her research journey through the history of this wave of revelations and explored how the pattern of progress followed by sustained backlash continues to be felt today.