Throughout much of last year, millions of American women resented that a man who’d bragged about sexually assaulting women had been elected president. Then came an electrifying moment — detailed allegations that another powerful man had sexually assaulted or harassed dozens of women as one of Hollywood’s leading producers.
“It just explodes. It was like throwing a match into a bucket of kerosene,” said Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation, describing the reaction to accusations against Harvey Weinstein that helped launch the #MeToo movement.
Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 hardened the resolve of many women who, when confronted with the Weinstein case in October, saw a rare chance that a serial predator with immense prestige and clout might be held accountable.
The infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that revealed Trump’s boasts helped fuel their outrage.
“We, as victims of that kind of behavior, we had all heard that kind of talk before,” said Weinstein accuser Louisette Geiss. “And then you felt like, oh my gosh, now someone can treat women like that and become president! It was just, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Spillar suggested that the intense response to Weinstein arose directly from Trump’s election.
“The backlash to him and his election was so massive among women that that was the setup,” Spillar said. “I don’t think the Weinstein Effect could have happened without the Trump Effect first, and the massive women’s marches and the protests.”
For some women, Weinstein’s arrest Friday on rape and criminal sex act charges was a relief. It was bittersweet for Danielle Campoamor, a New York-based writer and editor who says she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker five years ago.
“I watched Harvey Weinstein walk out of the police station in handcuffs and closed my eyes and thought about what it would be like to see my rapist walk out in handcuffs,” she said. “It’s something I will never see. But so many women today did, and that’s something.”