When Tarana Burke started the #MeToo movement in 2017, it spread all over the globe, spurring mountains of discussion about sexual violence and harassment, including at UC Berkeley.
After a conference in 2018, the Berkeley Center for Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law recruited more than 48 activists, academics and lawyers to write a book called “The Global #MeToo Movement,” which discusses the impacts of the movement. In the book, the various authors describe what led to laws against sexual harassment in their countries and how the #MeToo movement impacted their work.
“This book is an ode to the resistance of millions of individuals: a striking testament to their sheer bravery and endurance, their ability to rise above,” said Nicole Khoury, a campus senior and lead research fellow at the center, in an email. “It is crucial to shining a light on the intersectional and heterogeneous nature of the #MeToo Movement, and crafting a collective consciousness to learn from and relate to others’ experiences.”
The book’s authors come from 28 different countries and represent every continent except Antarctica. In recruiting authors for the book, the center wanted a wide range of perspectives to represent how different kinds of people experience harassment.
According to Ann Noel, the co-director of the center’s sexual harassment and violence working group, factors such as someone’s race, class and age impact the likelihood that they will experience harassment and whether people will believe them if they speak out about it.
“The benefit of the #MeToo Movement is it gave women a sense of how prevalent the problem was and the ability to communicate with each other internationally and nationally to address the issue, to get their societies out of denial and to start working together to change it,” Noel said.
The book found that there are disparities across the globe on how countries respond to sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, Noel added.
Some countries like Canada examined and adjusted their anti-harassment laws in response to the movement. Meanwhile, other countries such as the United States created a commission to investigate the issue, yet no action has been taken, according to Noel.
“Laws matter — they set standards. But (laws need) to be enforced and they are not enforced unless the culture supports a belief that sexual harassment is a problem that needs to be dealt with,” Noel said. “We saw here in the United States as an example a real reckoning after all the media attention to Harvey Weinstein. Finally … women were being believed.”
In hopes of continuing that trend, “The Global #MeToo Movement” contains what Noel described as a lot of important information about how to address harassment in people’s own countries, for women, by women.