The #MeToo movement has been a positive good.
It has encouraged women to speak out about men who have abused them and degraded them. It has encouraged men to think twice before engaging in such brutal behavior. But the #MeToo movement wasn’t just about stopping sexual assault and abuse: it was about female dignity. It was about women not being treated as sex objects, and men treating women as fully-rounded human beings.
So last night’s Grammys was rather off the mark.
Yes, it included moving speeches about #MeToo and #TimesUp. Yes, several performers spoke openly about fighting sexual abuse. Then they trotted out Hillary Clinton to read from Fire and Fury — a book that’s been used to accuse Nikki Haley, without evidence, of sleeping her way to the top of the Trump administration, and a reader who just last week was accused of leaving an alleged sexual abuser in place at her campaign. They trotted out DJ Khaled to scream his own name and then, like Joel Grey in Cabaret, usher Rihanna onto the stage, wearing a skimpy outfit and warbling, “Don’t you wanna see me naked, naked, naked,” followed by her pelvic thrusting among female backup dancers:
If this is female empowerment, then teenage boys are now the biggest fans of female empowerment in modern history.
Men should always treat women with care and dignity. But women should also treat themselves with dignity, and avoid making themselves into stereotypical sexualized cutouts for the pleasure of men. And let’s be frank: a huge percentage of pop songs are male masturbation material masquerading as female empowerment. There’s a reason female pop stars dress provocatively in their music videos, and it’s not because they’re just “more comfortable” that way. Here, for example, is what Rihanna wears when she’s out on the town:
Weirdly, she doesn’t dress for herself the same way she does when she goes onstage.
Now, it’s a free country. Rihanna can dress how she wants. She’s free to turn a buck how she sees fit. And nothing Rihanna wears justifies men sexually abusing or assaulting her, of course. But dignity is about more than how you deserve to be treated. It’s about you treating yourself as more than a plaything for men, or finding value in men viewing you as a sex object. If #MeToo wants to promote women's dignity, they should be telling girls to find dignity in themselves, rather than pandering to men's sexual tastes while screaming "FEMINISM."