Five years of #MeToo: from Angèle to Sex Education, how the movement has established itself in pop culture

In early October 2017, two articles implicated film producer Harvey Weinstein, triggering a wave of testimonies from victims of gender-based and sexual violence around the world. A shift in the voice of women and in the treatment of violence, even in pop culture: now, the movement is told in the cinema, violence is denounced in music or evoked in successful series. If the subject was little treated 10 years ago by mainstream artists and directors, it is now impossible to miss it, as certain songs in particular have been around the world.

When songs become #MeToo anthems

Some songs have become #MeToo anthems, proudly chanted in protests against gender-based and sexual violence, particularly in France. Others allowed the singers to reveal the abuse suffered in music.

On October 5, 2018, a year after the start of the movement on social networks, under the #balancetonporc in France, the singer Angèle released the title “Balance ton quoi”. Very quickly, he found himself on the radio, social networks. The refrain is taken up in chorus by the demonstrators in the feminist processions. “Drop your what. Even if you talk badly to girls, I know that deep down you have understood. Ditch your what, one day maybe it will change. Ditch your what. So let me sing to you, to go make you into, hmm…” : these words, the Brussels singer wrote after being bothered in the metro of the Belgian capital. “A guy had spoken to me badly and I had a little feeling of hatred and a desire for justice”she explains on the show 50 minutes insideon TF1, in February 2020.

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“Sous mon sein la grenade”: here is another song chorus chanted during the demonstrations in France. Singer Clara Luciani released this title at the end of 2017 (in the album “Sainte-Victoire”), in the midst of the explosion of the #MeToo movement all over the world. “Hey you. What are you watching ? Have you ever seen a woman who fights?“The lyrics, which denounce street harassment, then go on all the radios.

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Sometimes the music also allows the singers to denounce their aggressor. In January 2018, three months after the revelations of the Harvey Weinstein affair and the start of #MeToo, singer Kesha imposed the movement at the Grammy Awards, an unmissable song event in the United States. On stage, she performed alongside Camila Cabello in particular, “Praying”, title of her album “Rainbow”, in which she returns to the attacks she says she suffered from her former producer, Dr. Luke. She accused him of rape in 2014, charges that American justice will reject two years later.

If the interpreter of “TikTok” did not win an award that night at the Grammy Awards, it is of her and her stand against gender-based and sexual violence that we talked about on social networks and in the newspapers. “You put me through hell. I had to learn to fight for myself. We both knew all the truth I could tell”she sings in particular in this title, which moved a whole part of the public to tears. “To those who would try to silence us, we offer two words: it’s over”had declared the other singer Janelle Moréno before the arrival on stage of Kesha.

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Like Kesha, the Quebec singer Cœur de Pirate chose music to denounce marital rape. In “I want to go home”from the album “In the event of a storm, this garden will be closed”, Béatrice Martin denounces the marital rape she suffered a few years earlier. “The #MeToo movement brought out things in me that I had been through”she explains to Daphne Burki in 2018, on Europe 1. “I thought it was time to talk about it otherwise I was going to explode.”

From now on, the series also talk about sexual violence

Several series, some of which have been a resounding success, have chosen to tell about harassment or domestic violence. They highlight what women experience on a daily basis, at home, on public transport or at work.

In the hit series Sex Education, episode 7 of season 2 depicts sexual harassment on the bus. The young victim, Aimee, traumatized, no longer wants to take public transport. She finally overcomes her fears thanks to her friends. A way, again, to take a stand against sexual violence, in a series watched by millions of young people.

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The Unbelievable Detective Series, released two years after the beginning of the #MeToo movement, is it adapted from a true story, based on a journalistic investigation rewarded by the Pulitzer Prize. In this mini-series, we follow the teenager Marie, in a police station, who claims to have been tied up and then raped by a man at her home. But very quickly, the victim becomes accused and ends up, under pressure, saying that she lied. Except that at the same time, miles away, two policewomen are investigating a rapist, with a similar modus operandi.

The series divided into eight episodes recounts in particular the extreme difficulty and the courage it takes for the victims to testify, but also the lack of listening of the police institution vis-à-vis the victims of rape.

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In “H 24 – 24 hours in the life of a woman”, Arte broadcasts, in 2021, 24 shocking mini-films against violence against women. Control, feminicide or sexist dress codes: this “manifest series”denounces based on real facts, “the various forms of abuse that women can suffer at every hour of the day and night”, specifies Arte in the presentation of the series. We can see a husband who beats his wife in a parking lot and a woman who intervenes; a victim who files a complaint 25 years later; another woman insulted on social networks or female footballers who are victims of sexist and lesbophobic violence.

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Movies to tell the stories

The #MeToo movement has quickly taken hold on the big screen. Following thousands of testimonies and dozens of cases revealed publicly, several directors have decided to deal with the subject in films or documentaries, returning to the Weinstein affair or other sometimes older files.

It is a highly anticipated film which will be released at the very beginning of the year 2023: the one which retraces the investigative work of Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, which exposed the Harvey Weinstein affair. The two New York Times journalists investigated for months, breaking years of silence around sexual assault in the American cinema community. In “She Said”, director Maria Shrade tells behind the scenes of this huge investigation that will launch the #MeToo movement (initiated in 2007 by Tarana Burke) all over the world. A film adapted from the book of the same name, published by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor in 2020. They received the Pulitzer Prize for this investigation.

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Released in 2020, the film “Scandal” tells him the fall of historic Fox News television boss, Roger Ailes, dismissed three years earlier after numerous accusations of harassment and sexual assault against him. If this case dates from before #MeToo, it might not have been told if the movement had not taken place. The feature film looks back on the filing of a complaint, in 2016 (and therefore a year before #MeToo), by the former presenter Gretchen Carlson against Roger Ailes, for abusive demotion after she refused his advances. His testimony had triggered several others, ranging from sexual blackmail to sexual assault.

The actions of this press boss, who died in 2017, have been recounted in other works: the series “The Loudest Voice”, on Canal +, and the documentary “Divide and conquer: the life of Roger Ailes”.

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A few months after the return of the #MeToo movement, other directors have decided to tell the story of gender-based and sexual violence on the big screen. This is the case of the film “The assistant”, which retraces the life of a major producer’s assistant over a single day, spent in particular suffering his anger without ever receiving support from his colleagues. To achieve it, the Australian documentary filmmaker Kitty Green met many assistants of big bosses, in several fields.




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Without forgetting the documentary “Gloria Allred: the lawyer of women”, which tells in 2018 the life of this great feminist lawyer, very famous in the United States. For more than 40 years, she has defended women victims of rape, sexual harassment, discrimination or abuse of power. She notably defended accusers of Harvey WeinsteinDonald Trump and Bill Cosby.

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Five years of #MeToo: from Angèle to Sex Education, how the movement has established itself in pop culture