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This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced.

In some cases, criminal charges have been brought. Emboldened by Judd, Rose McGowan and a host of other prominent accusers, women everywhere have begun to speak out about the inappropriate, abusive and in some cases illegal behavior they've faced. When multiple harassment claims bring down a charmer like former Today show host Matt Lauer, women who thought they had no recourse see a new, wide-open door. When a movie star says MeToo, it becomes easier to believe the cook who's been quietly enduring for years. Judd says she was sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein when she was 29 years old.

It's an ingenious way that we've tried to keep ourselves safe. All those voices can be amplified. That's my advice to women. That and if something feels wrong, it is wrong—and it's wrong by my definition and not necessarily someone else's. Weinstein said in a statement he 'never laid a glove' on Judd. The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe. They're part of a movement that has no formal name.

But now they have a voice. In a windowless room at a two-story soundstage in San Francisco's Mission District, a group of women from different worlds met for the first time. Judd, every bit the movie star in towering heels, leaned in to shake hands with Isabel Pascual, a woman from Mexico who works picking strawberries and asked to use a pseudonym to protect her family. Beside her, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, eight months pregnant, spoke softly with Adama Iwu, a corporate lobbyist in Sacramento.

A young hospital worker who had flown in from Texas completed the circle. She too is a victim of sexual harassment but was there anonymously, she said, as an act of solidarity to represent all those who could not speak out. From a distance, these women could not have looked more different. Their ages, their families, their religions and their ethnicities were all a world apart. Their incomes differed not by degree but by universe: Iwu pays more in rent each month than Pascual makes in two months.

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But on that November morning, what separated them was less important than what brought them together: a shared experience. Over the course of six weeks, TIME interviewed dozens of people representing at least as many industries, all of whom had summoned extraordinary personal courage to speak out about sexual harassment at their jobs.

They often had eerily similar stories to share. In almost every case, they described not only the vulgarity of the harassment itself—years of lewd comments, forced kisses, opportunistic gropes—but also the emotional and psychological fallout from those advances.

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Almost everybody described wrestling with a palpable sense of shame. Had she somehow asked for it? Could she have deflected it? Was she making a big deal out of nothing? Why didn't I react? She remembers the shirt she was wearing that day. She can still feel the heat of her harasser's hands on her body. Millions of people responded with the hashtag MeToo when Milano urged them to post their experiences on Twitter.

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I don't know if I'll ever be the same. I have not stopped crying. I look at my daughter and think, Please, let this be worth it. Please, let it be that my daughter never has to go through anything like this. Burke, founder of a nonprofit that helps survivors of sexual violence, created the Me Too movement in to encourage young women to show solidarity with one another.

It went viral this year after actor Alyssa Milano used the hashtag MeToo. And I think it's really powerful that this transfer is happening, that these women are able not just to share their shame but to put the shame where it belongs: on the perpetrator. Nearly all of the people TIME interviewed about their experiences expressed a crushing fear of what would happen to them personally, to their families or to their jobs if they spoke up. For some, the fear was born of a threat of physical violence. Pascual felt trapped and terrified when her harasser began to stalk her at home, but felt she was powerless to stop him.

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If she told anyone, the abuser warned her, he would come after her or her children. Those who are often most vulnerable in society—immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income workers and LGBTQ people—described many types of dread. If they raised their voices, would they be fired? Would their communities turn against them? Would they be killed? After director James Toback denied accusations by dozens of women that he had sexually assaulted them, Blair spoke out about her encounter with him.

He called the women liars. But their stories were so similar to mine, and they were such credible women. There was no agenda other than they wanted to share this story, be free of this story. And in a magazine interview, he called the people who said this about him 'c-nts' and 'c-cksuckers. And I wanted to give a face to these now more than women who have come out. Juana Melara, who has worked as a hotel housekeeper for decades, says she and her fellow housekeepers didn't complain about guests who exposed themselves or masturbated in front of them for fear of losing the paycheck they needed to support their families.

Melara recalls "feeling the pressure of someone's eyes" on her as she cleaned a guest's room. When she turned around, she remembers, a man was standing in the doorway, blocked by the cleaning cart, with his erect penis exposed. She yelled at the top of her lungs and scared him into leaving, then locked the door behind him. While guests come and go, some employees must continue to work side by side with their harassers. Crystal Washington was thrilled when she was hired as a hospitality coordinator at the Plaza, a storied hotel whose allure is as strong for people who want to work there as it is for those who can afford a suite.

But then, she says, a co-worker began making crude remarks to her like "I can tell you had sex last night" and groping her. One of those encounters was even caught on camera, but the management did not properly respond, her lawyers say. I have an year-old daughter, and she's depending on me,' says Lewis, who still works at the hotel to make ends meet.

I wasn't really left with the option of leaving. I'm not left with the option of giving up. I want to show her that it's O. If you keep fighting, eventually you'll see the sun on the other side. Washington has joined with six other female employees to file a sexual-harassment suit against the hotel.

But she cannot afford to leave the job and says she must force herself out of bed every day to face the man she's accused. Other women, like the actor Selma Blair, weathered excruciating threats. Blair says she arrived at a hotel restaurant for a meeting with the independent film director James Toback in only to be told that he would like to see her in his room.

There, she says, Toback told her that she had to learn to be more vulnerable in her craft and asked her to strip down. She took her top off. She says he then propositioned her for sex, and when she refused, he blocked the door and forced her to watch him masturbate against her leg. Afterward, she recalls him telling her that if she said anything, he would stab her eyes out with a Bic pen and throw her in the Hudson River. Blair says Toback lorded the encounter over her for decades. Many of the people who have come forward also mentioned a different fear, one less visceral but no less real, as a reason for not speaking out: if you do, your complaint becomes your identity.

The Besh Group says it is implementing new policies to create a culture of respect. Besh apologized for "unacceptable behavior" and "moral failings," and resigned from the company. Iwu, the lobbyist, says she considered the same risks after she was groped in front of several colleagues at an event. She was shocked when none of her male co-workers stepped in to stop the assault.

The next week, she organized women to sign an open letter exposing harassment in California government. When she told people about the campaign, she says they were wary. After the Oregon state senator accused her fellow legislator Jeff Kruse of sexual harassment, the statehouse launched an investigation and stripped him of his committee assignments.

And that means we have to be willing to speak out when it's a member of our own party. Kruse said in a statement that he never touched Gelser inappropriately. The mother of two told the HR department at the hospital where she worked that an executive there repeatedly came on to her. Why couldn't I force words out of my mouth? When I got home, I crumbled. I kept thinking, Did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was O.

Taylor Swift says she was made to feel bad about the consequences that her harasser faced. After she complained about a Denver radio DJ named David Mueller, who reached under her skirt and grabbed her rear end, Mueller was fired. He sued Swift for millions in damages. Mueller's lawyer asked her, on the witness stand, whether she felt bad that she'd gotten him fired.

Not mine. Actors and writers and journalists and dishwashers and fruit pickers alike: they'd had enough. What had manifested as shame exploded into outrage. Fear became fury. She reported him to his radio station, KYGO, and he was terminated. He said her accusations were false and sued Swift. This man hadn't considered any formalities when he assaulted me Why should I be polite? Mueller's lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment. This was the great unleashing that turned the MeToo hashtag into a rallying cry. The phrase was first used more than a decade ago by social activist Tarana Burke as part of her work building solidarity among young survivors of harassment and assault.

A friend of the actor Alyssa Milano sent her a screenshot of the phrase, and Milano, almost on a whim, tweeted it out on Oct. She woke up the next day to find that more than 30, people had used MeToo. Milano burst into tears.

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At first, those speaking out were mostly from the worlds of media and entertainment, but the hashtag quickly spread. By November, California farmworkers, Pascual among them, were marching on the streets of Hollywood to express their solidarity with the stars. Women were no longer alone. Pezqueda filed a suit alleging that her supervisor at the Terranea Resort, a luxury retreat in South California, pursued her for months.

When she rebuffed him, he changed her schedule and cut her hours. The reality of being a woman is the same—the difference is the risk each woman must take. Attorneys for the staffing company that employed Pezqueda deny her allegations. Terranea Resort declined to comment except to say that the suit involves an outside agency. Lipman accused a former agent, Tyler Grasham, of sexually assaulting him when he was Grasham has since been dismissed by his agency and is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

And gay men are often highly sexualized in the media, so coming out with a story of sexual assault, especially one that also involved alcohol and maybe drugs, there is an idea that 'Well, did you want it?. Grasham never represented Lipman.

That's one of the reasons why the Access Hollywood tape that surfaced in October was such a jolt. The language used by the man who would become America's 45th President, captured on a recording, was, by any standard, vulgar. He didn't just say that he'd made a pass; he "moved on her like a bitch. That Donald Trump could express himself that way and still be elected President is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women's March the day after his Inauguration. It's why women seized on that crude word as the emblem of the protest that dwarfed Trump's Inauguration crowd size.

Megyn Kelly, the NBC anchor who revealed in October that she had complained to Fox News executives about Bill O'Reilly's treatment of women, and who was a target of Trump's ire during the campaign, says the tape as well as the tenor of the election turned the political into the personal. McGowan reached a settlement with producer Harvey Weinstein in after accusing him of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room.


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McGowan's decision to speak to the press this year helped expose Weinstein as a serial harasser. People forget a lot that there's a human behind this, someone who is very hurt. But that's O. It fuels my fire. They really f-cked with the wrong person. So it was not entirely surprising that began with women donning "pussy hats" and marching on the nation's capital in a show of unity and fury. What was startling was the size of the protest.

It was one of the largest in U. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice , was one of roughly 20 women to accuse the President of sexual harassment. She filed a defamation suit against Trump days before his Inauguration after he disputed her claims by calling her a liar. A New York judge is expected to decide soon if the President is immune to civil suits while in office.

No matter the outcome, the allegations added fuel to a growing fire. By February, the movement had made its way to the billionaire dream factories of Silicon Valley, when Fowler spoke out about her "weird year" as an engineer at Uber. Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and former guest on the network, was one of the first women to share her story about the star anchor—but she was initially reluctant to go on the record.

Eventually she allowed her name to be used. The downfall of O'Reilly, who has denied all allegations of harassment, would prove to be just the beginning of the reckoning in media and entertainment. In June, Bill Cosby was brought to trial on charges that he had drugged and sexually assaulted a woman named Andrea Constand, one of nearly 50 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault over several decades. Although the case ended in a mistrial—it is scheduled to be retried in April—the fact that it happened at all signaled a shift in the culture, a willingness to hold even beloved and powerful men accountable for past misdeeds.

I dipped out of the industry. When I came back, I was put in a sausage dress. The hair got blonder and the cleavage got deeper and the heels higher. Fox had created a sort of Snapchat filter: any woman, even a woman with advanced degrees, would be turned into what looked like an office sex toy. Part of what happened to the women at Fox News started in the makeup room. When she quit her job as social-media manager at the restaurant group of celebrity chef John Besh, Reynolds sent an email to her bosses complaining about the company's culture of sexism. She later filed a complaint with the EEOC.

Besh has since stepped down. I was nobody. I'm just a person from a small town in Texas. I have no money, no power, no social standing. And they have more power and money than I will ever have. I felt extremely vulnerable and scared. Then I heard from women I had never met—they worked as line cooks while I worked in corporate—who had experienced the same toxic culture. The company said it is working to enact policies to create a culture of safety and respect.


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Besh has apologized for 'unacceptable' behavior and 'moral failings,' and resigned. Complaints at the University of Rochester helped expose harassment in academia. Then, in early October, the dam finally broke. On Oct. The revelation was quickly followed by New Yorker investigations that widened Weinstein's list of accusers and showed the incredible lengths he went to cover his tracks.

Weinstein denied the allegations, but the levers that he had long pulled to exert his influence suddenly were jammed. Fellow chieftains refused to defend him. Politicians who once courted him gave away his donations. His company's board fired him. Within days, the head of Amazon Studios, an influential art publisher and employees at the financial-services firm Fidelity had all left their jobs over harassment claims.

By the end of the month, the list of the accused had grown to include political analyst Mark Halperin, a former TIME employee; opinion-shaping literary critic Leon Wieseltier; and numerous politicians and journalists. The Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey was scrubbed from a completed movie. In the wake of the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, Pascual spoke out at a march in L.

When the man was harassing me, he threatened to harm my children and me—that's why I kept quiet. I felt desperate. I cried and cried. But, thank God, my friends in the fields support me. So I said, Enough. I lost the fear. It doesn't matter if they criticize me.

I can support other people who are going through the same thing. The response to the Weinstein allegations has shaped the way people view women who come forward. The movement—and fallout—quickly spread around the world.

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Michael Fallon, Britain's Defense Secretary, quit the Cabinet after journalist Jane Merrick revealed that he had "lunged" at her in , when she was a year-old reporter. In France, women took to the streets chanting not only "Me too" but also " Balance ton porc ," which translates roughly to "Expose your pig," a hashtag conceived by French journalist Sandra Muller. In the week after MeToo first surfaced, versions of it swept through 85 countries, from India, where the struggle against harassment and assault had already become a national debate in recent years, to the Middle East, Asia and parts in between.

Meyer says that Justin Caldbeck, a venture capitalist who invested in her first company, harassed her. After six other women reported harassment by Caldbeck, he resigned from his firm. I wanted to be able to get back to running my company and not have the daily distraction of being constantly emailed, called, text-messaged. That took a lot of energy to deal with and to process and to try to bury—because I didn't want it to be a big deal. For so long, I went around harboring this ridiculous belief that because I was a nonwhite woman in my 20s that somehow it was expected that I would have to be treated this way.

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