Respect Equality

Five years after it took off, around half of Americans support the #MeToo movement

Although the MeToo movement was founded in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, the social media campaign took off in 2017.
Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in Los Angeles in 2017.
Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in Los Angeles, on Nov. 1, 2017. Tarana Burke (center) founded the movement in 2006. The Associated Press/ Damian Dovarganes

Story at a glance

  • Five years after the #MeToo movement went viral, a survey from Pew Research Center shows around half of Americans support it in 2022.

  • However, differences in opinion emerged along party lines, with more Democrats supporting the movement than Republicans.

  • Women younger than 30 tend to express the strongest support for #MeToo. 

Five years after the #MeToo reckoning shook up powerful institutions and brought down the likes of Harvey Weinstein, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) say they strongly or somewhat support the movement.

That’s according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 6,034 U.S. adults. 

In 2017, the #MeToo movement gained momentum on social media thanks to celebrities urging those who have experienced sexual harassment and assault to share their stories. 

But the term was initially coined by activist Tarana Burke, who founded the movement in 2006. 

Just 21 percent of those surveyed say they currently oppose the movement, while Democrats are about three times more likely than Republicans to support #MeToo. Around 70 percent of Democrats report support compared with more than 20 percent of Republicans. 

Women are also more likely than men to say they support the movement (54 percent vs 42 percent), as are younger adults compared with their older counterparts. 

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The #MeToo fallout was not isolated to Hollywood, however, and reports of sexual harassment permeated industries and lead to the resignation or firing of other high-profile figures, including Matt Lauer, former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Charlie Rose and Kevin Spacey, to name a few.

In the years since, attitudes around handling sexual assault, especially in the workplace, have shifted for some, as a greater emphasis was put on believing accusers. Around 60 percent of Americans feel those who report assault or harassment at the workplace are more likely to be believed in 2022 than in 2017, according to the survey. This belief rings true even among those who oppose the movement.

Overall, women younger than 30 are the strongest supporters of #MeToo. White adults are also more likely than Black or Hispanic adults to oppose the movement — a finding likely due to the fact more white adults are Republican, authors said. But “white Democrats are actually more likely than Black and Hispanic Democrats to support the movement,” they added. 

Regardless of demographic or partisan differences, 70 percent of individuals surveyed agree that people who commit sexual harassment or assault in the workplace are more likely to be held responsible now, compared with five years ago. 

Forty-six percent of respondents still feel it’s extremely or very common for individuals who experience harassment or assault at the workplace not to report the incidents, and few feel false reports are common.

When it comes to behavior adjustments in the wake of the #MeToo movement, nearly half of those surveyed say increased focus on workplace harassment has made it “harder for men to know how to interact with women in the workplace.” 

Common reasons given for support of #MeToo include sentiments that women deserve respect or equality and that the campaign brings attention to sexual harassment and assault. Others say it holds abusers accountable, brings old stories to light and that the movement helps support victims.

In contrast, opposition to the movement stems from concerns about lack of due process, and that individuals should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Some cite the potential for false accusations and that the movement is more about attention, money, or other motivations apart from bringing perpetrators to justice, authors noted. 

Despite attitudes around the movement, there’s no doubt of its lasting impact in America and overall global influence. Recent cases have bolstered activists in China, and similar campaigns have played out in India, Japan, Australia and other countries, though to varying degrees of success. 

Efforts are still ongoing in other sectors in the United States, too, with some feeling additional progress has yet to be made.