When Tarana Burke’s movement became a mass phenomenon in the fall of 2017, #MeToo’s expansion led to both exhilaration and anxiety: Was this reckoning sustainable? Would it lead to backlash? Two years later, the answer to both questions is yes. Below are a series of moments that demonstrate the ways #MeToo has woven itself into American culture this year. The list is not comprehensive. It is a collection, instead, of developments, both real and fictional, that stood out to us, highlighting how far #MeToo has come—and how far it has yet to go.
Gayle King’s Explosive Interview With R. Kelly
“Why now? Why would they come out now?” That’s what R. Kelly asked Gayle King in one of the quieter moments of the very loud interview he gave responding to accusations that he’d abused women and pursued underage girls over decades. Questioning the timing of allegations is a first-line, reflexive, think-no-deeper defense heard often from accused men amid the #MeToo reckoning. King did not miss a beat in replying, “Because we’re in a different time when women are speaking out, and now women feel safe saying the things about you.”
It’s true we’re in a different time. It’s also true that women have tried to speak out against Kelly for many years, as Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary made clear with its spotlighting of dozens of self-identified victims of Kelly’s. Renewed media attention to Kelly’s hardly hidden trail of allegations coincided this year with criminal charges being filed in Illinois, New York, and Minnesota. Kelly’s move was to go on CBS and scream and cry that he’s not a “monster”; his on-camera histrionics reached a level where his own publicist had to step in and calm him down. Maybe Kelly had taken inspiration from other recent displays of male outrage meant to convey innocence. But the question afterward wasn’t about how a man like this could be guilty. It was rather: What wouldn’t a man like this do? — Spencer Kornhaber
E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump