Adding nuance to #Metoo
First of all, let me be clear that I fully acknowledge that sexual harassment, targeting mainly women is real and widespread.
It is the legacy of millennia of patriarchal societies as much as that of more recent cultural depictions of the male-female relationships.
Regardless of the reasons, the behaviour and mentality underlying it are plainly despicable and unjustifiable.
The anti-Weinstein uprising and the outpouring of testimonials and personal experiences is also a good thing.
However, there can be too much of a good thing.
The #Metoo hashtag has gone too far. It has gone too far because it was never properly defined. In my feed, descriptions accompanying the hashtag range from full-on rape to the most minor catcalls.
And that is a very dangerous thing.
No form of sexual harassment is ever justifiable but failing to differentiate between them can have some unintended consequences.
The 16 year-old girl whose 16 year-old boyfriend insists a few seconds too many to kiss her can now be convinced this counts as sexual harassment, and why not report him to the police the day they break up and she’s heartbroken.
It is imperative to establish the difference between a serial sexual predator like Harvey Weinstein, a douchebag who deliberately grabs your ass in the street, a festival-goer who pays you a drunken compliment, a guy catcalling from the other side of the street and a love interest who perhaps, insisted a bit too much, thinking, again based on popular culture he’s exposed to, that perseverance is a desirable trait. They are not all #Metoos. They are not the same #Metoo.
Neither in graveness, nor in psychological or physical consequences
It is imperative to acknowledge that in this behaviour, men are victims of the societies we grew up in as much as women. The consequences are different, but the cause is one and the same.
The boy who is laughed at by his friends, or brothers or father because he didn’t manage to ‘score’ and so tries harder the next time is a victim.
It is more likely than not that I personally have been in a situation that would qualify for a #Metoo, and that’s what scares the shit out of me. That Harvey Weinstein’s #Metoo is equivalent to mine is inaccurate, unjust, and can too easily lead to abuse.
So yes, stand proud, yes call them out, but keep some nuance in there.
We live in a world where nuance is lost. Everything is black and white when in reality, it’s always some shade of grey.
Acknowledging boys as victims of the system rather than pre-meditating inherently evil beings is key. Education and change of mentalities especially among boys, is a responsibility for our society as a whole