On Tuesday, Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, apparently realized that the #MeToo movement might have a serious problem on its hands: if #MeToo insists that all women must be believed, no matter what, some men are going to act in risk averse ways with female employees. That means, according to Huffington, a massive drop in the number of men who are willing to mentor women.
The link directs to LeanIn.org, a group dedicated to empowering women. According to the site, “twice as many male managers now feel uncomfortable working alone with a woman. This is a step in the wrong direction … almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.” Furthermore, 16% of male managers now say they’re uncomfortable mentoring a woman, as opposed to 5% before #MeToo. And senior-level men are five times as likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman than a junior-level man.
Why would men feel comfortable working alone with women or socializing together when the possibility of a fraught encounter could ensue — and when men have been told that no matter what allegations are levied against them, the burden of proof immediately falls on them?
Huffington should know this better than most: Gizmodo accused Huffington of covering up sexual harassment at The Huffington Post back in November. According to that report:
Most notably, her history with a former managing editor whose “transfer” to launch HuffPost India was later revealed to be result of an HR investigation into whether he had sexually harassed multiple young women in the New York office. Gizmodo recently revisited those allegations and not only independently confirmed that the investigation was indeed the reason for that managing editor’s transfer, but that Huffington knew about his actions before they were reported to HR, according to a former employee with direct knowledge of the investigation.
So perhaps Huffington should have done more at the time to stop sexual harassment within her own company, rather than forwarding the vague goals of #MeToo, only to realize too late that women are harmed by a paranoid environment regarding men.