Recently, controversy has been brewing in conservative circles on social media concerning the #MeToo movement. Emotions are certainly running high on both ends of the debate; the issue has garnered much attention. However, this article is not meant to be an attack on those who have made questionable comments. Instead, this is an opportunity to evaluate our principles and expectations for the men and women in our society.
First, the #MeToo movement has been an incredible source of empowerment and freedom for many. While the movement has its flaws, as most do, it is undeniable that #MeToo has united women, and men, as well, across racial, socioeconomic, and political lines. Women and men have been emboldened by the stories of their peers, their mentors, their idols, and, yes, even their adversaries to speak up and speak out. It has been inspiring and empowering for women everywhere, even those who have not experienced instances of sexual harassment and/or assault.
With that in mind, we have to appreciate the good that this movement has done. The hope for change that it has cultivated. The actual change that it has generated. The people it has touched. #MeToo has been a comfort for those who have felt like they were suffering alone. For many, it is a rallying cry for women to band together for change.
Based upon the importance of this movement to survivors, it is highly dangerous to assert that #MeToo demeans women. That it implicates an inherent weakness or stupidity for women who are victims of harassment and/or assault because, after all, women should know better. They should know what men want. They should expect that men will take what they want when they see it.
This is a harmful insinuation, especially if made by another woman. Females should be united against that behavior. Beyond the damage that this kind of rhetoric can cause for fellow ladies – specifically the survivors – this is highly problematic for men. Do we really think that poorly of men? Do we really think they are that animalistic – that they will grab and take and claim what they want, when they want it?
Men are capable of self-control. Yes, men are capable of respecting women. Men are capable of not harassing and assaulting women. A great deal of them are not harassers and assaulters. Telling women that we should “know” that men are going to try to grab and take and claim, it simultaneously blames the victim, and it permits men to do these things. It excuses that behavior because we act like that is just what men do. “Boys will be boys,” right? No. In the words of Ann Voskamp, “if the prevailing thought is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage.”