Whilst the term is commonly attributed to US artist Tamara Burke, who used the term ‘me too’ on social media in 2006, the hashtag became a global phenomenon from July 2017 onwards to highlight the prevalence of experiences of sexual harassment and gender-based violence. The immediate context for this was the revelations about US film producer Harvey Weinstein and other prominent figures.

The spread of #MeToo has been mapped by United Nations (UN) Women who have shown its worldwide distribution.

Although the issue (and awareness of it) was far from new, #MeToo is widely credited in the UK with shining a ‘spotlight’ on the problem and galvanising action (across generations of campaigners). In its wake, workplace sexual harassment and gender-based violence have become a focal point of concerted campaigning, investigation and advocacy across women’s and equalities organisations, trade unions and political parties. It has spurred debate and commanded public attention. It is for the historians of the future to assess its lasting effects and to examine the extent to which it has been a significant catalyst for social, legal and cultural change.

Further reading

Karen Boyle, #MeToo, Weinstein and Feminism (London: Palgrave, 2019).