Three problems with the #Metoo movement
By Jason Kelly
Over the last year Hollywood and D.C. have been rocked by accusations of sexual assault. With the devious and disgusting acts of men in power coming to light we have started to see more justice in regards to sexual assault than ever before. In a good-hearted attempt to invite women to come forward and bring to light the bad experiences ofwomen such as “sexual assault and harassment”, they were invited to post #Metoo on social media platforms. Though I believe that this “movement” started as a way to help women with their horrific experiences it has created a disgusting cultural movement that has poisoned the debate about what to do about sexual assault.
- The phrase Metoo is overly vague and creates a false equivalency between all sexual assault victims.
First let me say that sexual harassment is real and evil, but we must not act like every person that tweets #Metoo has experienced the same thing. We must also be able to differentiate between rape and sexual harassment. There is a big difference between a man catcalling a woman and saying despicable and inappropriate things to her and a man assaulting and raping a woman in a dark alley. There is a big difference between regretful sex and being physically coerced into bed. Yet when a woman tweets out #Metoo we have no idea what kind of experience she referencing, she can be referencing a rude and inappropriate man touching her butt at a party or a deeply disturbing sexual experience. The issue of sexual assault and rape is far more nuanced and complicated than a simple social media hashtag allows it to be.
2. It ignores the need for objective standards of what rape and sexual assault are
Over the last couple of days former Parks and Recreation star Azis Ansari was accused of sexual assault. In a sleazy move he took a woman on a date with the clear intention of having sex with her and never talking to her again. They had a hurried dinner with white wine and then hurried back to his apartment. Upon arrival they took off their clothes and performed several sexual actions. According to reports he was persistent but when she told him that she didn’t what to continue they stopped. She sent him a text the next day in which she said that she had given him many non-verbal clues that she did not want to continue. Looking back at the incident it is clear that while Azis was incredibly sleazy and classless he did not rape her.
People today are calling for the head of Azis and this “scandal” could end up costing him his career. The problem with all these accusations against him is that they are based on the subjective feelings of someone and not the objective standards of the law. I believe that rapists should go to jail for life, but in order for that to happen we have to have a clear standard as to what is rape and what is not. Without objective standards many accusations become little more than a witch hunt.
3. It promotes an environment where simply tweeting, making speeches and dressing in black is an adequate response to rape and sexual assault.
The point here is simple, the #Metoo movement fosters an environment that is not adequate in dealing with the issue that is sexual assault and rape. It tells women that simply tweeting or posting something on Facebook is an adequate response to an act of evil that was committed against them. In our society women are often reluctant to publicly accuse those who attack them because of possible consequences to their career. The answer is not to vaguely “call people out” for sexual assault but to shine as much light on each individual incident as possible. It should not only be to raise awareness but to put some people in jail. We must encourage and help women and men to come forward and face their accuser, accusations must be investigated and justice must be served.
Though I have no doubt that the Metoo movement has goodness in its roots it has grown into something much more sinister, an overly broad, yet oddly specific witch-hunt.