Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Toronto on Saturday afternoon to transform the pervasive two-word social media discussion #MeToo into action against sexual harassment and assault.
For many marchers, like Canadian actress and director Devery Jacobs, it was the first time they had publicly shared their experiences as survivors of sexual misconduct in the workplace and their personal lives.
“It’s really sickening to see how many people have gone through this and how many perpetrators have gotten away with it,” Jacobs told CBC News.
“I think it’s just really important for women and men alike to stand together and call these people out, and also heal and move forward.”
The march began with a rally of speeches from a dozen people at Queen’s Park at noon before proceeding around two kilometres south to Nathan Phillips Square. As they marched, the crowd chanted, “We are equal” and “Whose body? My body.”
‘Overwhelmed with this feeling of empathy’
Toronto’s march follows a similar one held last month in Los Angeles where thousands took to the streets with banners and posters to denounce sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
Organizers say the Toronto event was inspired by a torrent of sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile figures in the entertainment industry and politics.
Alathea Milne-Hines, one of several organizers of the march, said the idea to hold the event began shortly after she started reading #MeToo posts back in October.
#MeToo is the social media campaign that exploded online to disclose experience with sexual harassment and assault and exposed the scale of such abuse in everyday life.
“I was overwhelmed with this feeling of empathy, as a survivor of sexual abuse myself,” said Milne-Hines.
“I just felt this feeling my gut, something else needs to happen beyond the social media realm.”
The viral movement was triggered by sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein that emerged in early October, but the subsequent fallout has led to a growing list of others who have been accused.
From film director James Toback to…