The #metoo Movement and its criticisms

Image: USA today, 2019

By Emily Connolly

Report:

The example that was chosen is about the #metoo movement and how it criticises the male survivors of the movement and questions their motives for coming forward, claiming they “just wanted to speak up to become famous” and “God gave you muscles so you can say no” (Bradley, 2018). These accusations, in particular, were directed towards former NFL player, turned actor, Terry Crews when he tried to speak out about the sexual harassment he received at the hands of Adam Venit, a big name in the Hollywood industry. Since speaking about his harassment, he has received much criticism from people, specifically, comedian D.L. Hughley, who stated; “he could have said no”, and even made a joke about his experience, stating that he never had a similar experience because he “wasn’t sexy enough for that” (Chiu, 2019).

The #metoo movement is an extremely powerful “movement of survivors and their supporters, powered by courage, determined to end sexual violence and harassment” (North, 2019). It is about creating change and holding the attackers accountable for their actions, rather than hiding behind monetary compensation and non-disclosure agreements. The movement was started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 to “help survivors of survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, and other young women of colour from low wealth communities, find pathways to healing” (Me Too Movement — About, 2018). While it has been widely received and praised, with many celebrities supporting the campaign, the movement has fixated itself to only represent the females of the Hollywood cinematic world, therefore marginalising others also trying to speak up about their issues, as was done with Terry Crews.

This topic is particularly important to me because by being a female, it is quite common for women to be forced to deal with comments from men due to the way we look or how we are dressed, and it is heartbreaking for them to constantly be accused of it and do not realise how their comments affect us and just how rude they are. The #metoo movement is exceptional in how it is finally shining a light on how depraved some of the big names in Hollywood are, along with holding them accountable for their actions. While attackers are receiving their punishment, the movement still has the power to educate others about how people, in particular women, face harassment daily, even if it is just a lewd comment from a passing person on the street. It seems ridiculous to me that it is 2020 and there is not a fail-safe way to hold everyone in this industry accountable for their actions. I hope that, with the increasing popularity and recognition of this movement, it will be more widely accepted for sexual harassment victims to come forward and hold their attackers accountable without fear of retaliation or criticism from others, no matter who the person is speaking up.

Sexual harassment in the media and entertainment industries and the way it is handled affect not only the people involved directly in the entertainment industries but also those that are aspiring actors or production crew members. By not being inclusive of everyone’s harassment experiences, no matter their gender, weight or social power, it is setting a precedent for others not wanting to speak up about their sexual harassment experiences due to fear.

Relate:

The #metoo movement is not just about the individual talking about their sexual harassment experiences, it is about creating awareness and inspiring others to speak up as well, and not letting the assaulters silence anyone anymore. By inspiring others in the entertainment industry to speak up about their experiences, it encourages more people, and with more people talking, it becomes a more standard practice than ever before. With more people in the entertainment industry talking about the movement and their assault, it has the potential to move on from the entertainment industry and immerse itself in other industry, for example, the industrial industry, then so on and so forth. By implanting the #metoo movement in more industries, it means more attackers are being held accountable and the industries move to become a much safer place for people. “The #metoo movement seeks to support folks working within their communities to attend to the specific needs of their communities. Together, we can uplift and support each other to strengthen a global movement to interrupt sexual violence” (Me Too Movement — About, 2018). Media professionals should care about this issue because without them, there is no accountability being held and attackers can continue without being charged. Sadly, it is almost a guarantee that sooner or later every female and sometimes others, will experience some form of sexual harassment, so if they have a platform and an audience, it is up to them to speak up and hold the person accountable, no matter how scared they may be. By holding them accountable it is showing other victims that their attacker will not get away with it, they will be charged if they come forward. Speaking up educates others on the issue and teaches them right from wrong, so they can become more aware of what sexual harassment looks like, therefore being more knowledgeable for future encounters.

By involving the public on the issue of sexual harassment, it makes the topic more known, therefore more recognizable, hopefully encouraging others to speak about their encounters and those by-standing harassment, brave enough to say something about it. This topic involves real cases of sexual harassment, real people with real feelings and for anything to change, the public needs to care enough to help bring the harassers to justice. Terry Crews was brave enough to come forward about his experiences, but instead of being listened to and supported, people, males, in particular, were sceptical of him, and what is worse is, he was not the only male who was criticised for coming forward (Bradley, 2018). Actor, Jimmy Bennett, was another male

who came forward with a sexual assault experience from actor Asia Argento, saying he was seventeen when she sexually assaulted him (Dancyger, 2018). When Bennett came forward with this experience, his first interview afterwards, the shows female host implied a woman cannot rape a man and that arousal indicates consent” (Dancyger, 2018). Uneducated responses such as this are exactly why so many men are scared to come forward with their own experiences because they fear they will not be supported. By educating the public in this issue, people understand different points of view, therefore sexually assaulted male victims are more likely to come forward.

Reason:

There are many social and cultural forces behind the #metoo movement, such as silence theory, rape culture and, victim-blaming and questioning. Silence theory assumes people are constantly aware of the opinions of people around them and therefore adjust their behaviours to the majority due to the fear of speaking out and being on the losing side of public debate (Donsbach & Traugott, 2008). This theory links in with victim-blaming and questioning, which occurs when the victim of the crime is either entirely or partially held responsible for the harm that befell them ( Zaleski, Gundersen, & Ba, 2016). Grubb and Turner conducted a study in 2012 about victim-blaming and found that “men blame women more often than women blame women for an alleged rape” while also discovering “women who consume alcohol before being raped had higher rates of victim-blaming by both sexes, as compared to women who were assaulted while sober” ( Zaleski, Gundersen, & Ba, 2016). Rape culture is a concept in which rape has become normalized and common due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality, which connects to the above cultural and social forces.

https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-human-behavior

By understanding the importance behind these forces, it is vital in the education of others and the justice of those attacked. The #metoo movement has already made an impact on our everyday life, by changing laws around sexual harassment claims in workplaces, such as limiting the use of nondisclosure agreements, improved testing of rape kits and to extend the limitations of victims wanting to file lawsuits against abusers (Beitsch, 2018). However, there are still victims scared of coming forward to speak about their abuse due to cultural forces such as victim-blaming and questioning and rape culture, where it is normalized for women to be sexually abused.

There are hundreds of articles and reports on educated people statistically speaking about the issue of sexual assault and rape, however, due to its controversial topic, not many influencers have spoken up about it, besides those that have experienced the assault firsthand. Along with Terry Crews, celebrities such as Ashely Judd, Taylor Swift, Eliza Dushku and Oprah Winfrey have all come forward with their sexual assault stories to increase awareness about the issue and to also encourage others to speak up (Smith & Nicolaou, 2019). Taylor Swift, in particular, has made an outstanding effort to increase public awareness, as she took her sexual assault case to court and successfully sued her attacker for a $1 reward, stating that she wanted to “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts” (Grady, 2016). By having a personal experience with this issue, the validity of their arguments is extremely honest and brave because it actively fights against silence theory and victim-blaming. While they still may be questioned, these victims have a social platform to educate others and continue to publicly speak about it. Ashley Judd was one of the first high-profile Harvey Weinstein accusers, which inspired others to come forward and speak about their abuse at Weinstein’s hand, eventually resulting in his conviction.

Reconstruct:

To treat stakeholders ethically, it should be an accepted practice to never discourage others from speaking up, even if they are male or if they have “muscles to defend yourself” as said by D.L. Hughley in response to Terry Crews speaking up about his assault (Chiu, 2019). By treating everyone equally it means we can encourage people to come forward, because there is less fear they will be criticised, therefore disproving ‘silence theory’. While the #metoo movement has inspired change throughout the world concerning sexual assault, it has critical failures in its attempt to include everyone, while it is true that most cases are from straight women, homosexual violence and transphobia are often excluded, ignored or criticised, as was the case with Terry Crews. Most of the #metoo movement stories follow the gender and sexual norm, therefore following the dominant ideologies, resulting in a blind eye towards male victims because of the systemic sexist views that men are dominant and always in control of women. Crews is not the first male victim that has shared their story under the #metoo movement, Jimmy Bennett also came forward with a sexual abuse story accusing a female actress, Asia Argento, of sexually assaulting him at the age of 17, however with her constant denial of the incident, it seems as though there is little support for Bennett (Dancyger, 2018).

While most media articles are supportive of Crews and recognise his pain, it is still heartbreaking to see the hidden implied comments on articles stating their disbelief. Articles are quick to state how Adam Venti, Crews’ abuser, denied the allegations, and also include comments about other high-profile males coming forward with cases just to be dissuaded (Bradley, 2018). Crews mentioned he has received support throughout the process but expressed the issue is “you are now behind enemy lines… instead of a person who needs help, you are a problem that needs to be eradicated” (Bradley, 2018). It is not an effective or sustainable way of dealing with this issue, there needs to be more support in the industry for those who are “different from the norm” coming forward with abuse stories to share. If I was in the position to address the issue, it would be a priority of mine to make clear the importance of everyone’s experiences, everyone has suffered, and no one should feel embarrassed or scared to come forward because their story is not as “painful” as others. By coming forward, you are encouraging others to also speak up and normalize conversations about it and increasing awareness.

References:

Zaleski, K. L., Gundersen, K. K., & Ba, J. (2016). Computers in Human Behavior. California: Elsevier.

Beitsch, R. (2018). #MeToo Has Changed Our Culture. Now It’s Changing Our Laws. PEW.

Bradley, L. (2018, October 4). “I Was Terrified, and I Was Humiliated”: #MeToo’s Male Accusers, One Year Later. Vanity Fair.

Chiu, A. (2019, January 28). ‘Are you implying I wanted to be sexually assaulted?’: Terry Crews rips D.L. Hughley over #MeToo comments. The Washington Post.

Crawford, R. (1977). You are Dangerous to Your Health: The Ideology and Politics of Victim Blaming. Sage Jounals.

Dancyger, L. (2018, September 25). Asia Argento, Jimmy Bennett and Why We Don’t Believe Male Survivors. Rolling Stones.

Dastagir, A. E. (2019, September 30). It’s been two years since the #MeToo movement exploded. Now what? USA Today.

Donsbach, W., & Traugott, M. W. (2008). Public Opinion Research. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Dry, J. (2019, July 6). Terry Crews Thanks the Women of the #MeToo Movement for Giving Him ‘Courage’. IndieWire.

Eltagouri, M. (2017, November 16). ‘I will not be shamed’: Actor Terry Crews details his alleged sexual assault. The Washington Post.

Flood, M. (2019). The art of medicine Gender equality: engaging men in change. Brisbane: The Lancet.

Grady, C. (2016, December 6). Is Taylor Swift a “Silence Breaker”? The case for and against her place on Time’s cover. Vox.

Hughes, W. (2018, December 13). CBS paid Eliza Dushku $9.5 million to stay silent about alleged harassment on the set of Bull. AV Club.

Me Too Movement — About. (2018). Retrieved from Metoomvmt: https://metoomvmt.org/about/

Mumford, G. (2017, October 12). This article is more than 2 years old Actor Terry Crews: I was sexually assaulted by Hollywood executive. The Guardian.

North, A. (2019, October 4). 7 positive changes that have come from the #MeToo movement. Vox.

Smith, C. E., & Nicolaou, E. (2019, October 6). A #MeToo Timeline To Show How Far We’ve Come — & How Far We Need To Go. Refinery29.

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