The #MeToo movement, which gained traction with the help of a hashtag, has opened the doors for more open and actionable conversation surrounding sexual assault and harassment everywhere. That's a positive thing. What's arguably less so is that the widespread attention is inspiring companies to jump on the bandwagon, in what some see as a move to benefit the bottom line more than the victims.
Despite the fact that Jerome Falic, CEO of Falic Fashion Group (the company that owns Hard Candy) promised to donate the profits to #MeToo, the backlash was swift on social media. (It's worth noting here that unlike #TimesUp, which donates funds to legal action on behalf of men and women filing against abusers, #MeToo is not connected to an organization.) "The trademark for #metoo is really disappointing and out of line," a user commented on the brand's latest Instagram post. "Would love to see you donate profits of things inspired by women but profiting off of the campaign is disrespectful. and a LOT of women are victims and relate to #metoo why should they have to be reminded through makeup? you should’ve just donated..."
It's bad enough that activist Tarana Burke, founder of Girls for Gender Equity, only got credit for her creation after multiple media outlets — ours included — credited Alyssa Milano for starting the social commentary. Burke, a Black woman, is finally getting the credit she deserves... and if you take a look at Twitter, these important conversations are still happening months later. If Burke was the one to trademark the hashtag, it'd make a lot more sense.
Users on Instagram and Twitter sent the message loud and clear to Hard Candy and after hearing the criticism, the cosmetics line is withdrawing its application. "As a brand devoted to women since its inception, Hard Candy has and will continue to support women’s rights," Falic said in a statement to Refinery29. "Hard Candy has always quietly and proudly supported a non-profit organization that directly contributes to many women’s causes. When the trademark application for #MeToo was filed, one of our objectives was to bring greater awareness to this important and long overdue movement. We planned to donate 100% of all profits arising from this trademark to #MeToo. Based on several public responses, we have abandoned the application. We will continue to support the work of this watershed movement and other causes that respect the dignity of women and all people.”
Consider this yet another example of just how powerful our collective voice can be in 2018.