All of the problems with the #MeToo movement have come bubbling to the surface these last two weeks as the Ford vs. Kavanaugh saga has put the movement’s flaws on full display. It should be enough to discredit the whole #MeToo crusade and finally return some semblance of rationality to the discussion of sexual harassment and assault. I suspect that it will have the opposite effect, however, as feminists will only redouble their efforts to dig up the real or imagined skeletons of every prominent male figure in America. But hopefully the sane among us will now finally see this campaign for what it is.
It is extremely apparent that #MeToo is more harmful than helpful, primarily for these 5 reasons:
1) #MeToo does not allow sexual assault allegations to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If we are going to get to the truth in a particular case, and if we are going to be fair to the accuser and the accused, we cannot look at the case as another plot point in an overall narrative. Brett Kavanaugh is not just The Man character accused of abusing The Woman character. These people are not archetypes. He is an individual person, and she is an individual person, and their situation is an individual situation which has absolutely no relation to Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby or any other famous pervert.
This week, I have heard several women say that they aren’t sure if Kavanaugh is guilty but they did know plenty of “those kinds of boys” growing up and they were aware of “those kinds of things” happening. But that is exactly the wrong way of looking at this. Kavanaugh is not a “kind,” and this thing that happened, if it did indeed happen (which I don’t think it did), is not a “kind,” either. We are dealing with specific people and specific circumstances.
The problem with the #MeToo movement is that it is a movement. And movements come with their own narratives and ideologies. But sexual assault is not an ideological phenomenon. It is a criminal act, and therefore it must be evaluated objectively and on its own terms.
2) #MeToo does not acknowledge the possibility that women lie.
As we have established, it is a problem when we start making movements and narratives out of our opposition to sexual assault. It is even more a problem in this case when you consider what the narrative is telling us: namely, that women don’t lie about these things.
“Believe women,” the #MeToo crusaders shout. But we shouldn’t believe women. We shouldn’t believe men. We should believe individual people, regardless of gender, if there are good and empirical reasons to believe them. All people lie — men and women both — so we cannot make any blanket assumptions about which gender is more likely to be telling the truth.
We are told that “women don’t lie about rape.” You may as well say men don’t rape. Just because most men would never rape doesn’t mean that any particular man accused of rape is innocent. Likewise, just because most women would never lie about rape doesn’t mean that any particular woman accusing a man of rape isn’t lying. This is a very obvious point that the #MeToo movement has intentionally obscured.
3) #MeToo equates very unequal kinds of sexual misdeeds.
#MeToo has taken all sorts of sexual improprieties and put them all on the same spectrum, and then bunched them close together on that spectrum. Now, if a woman says she is a victim of sexual assault, she could mean anything from forcible rape to awkward flirting. She could mean that a felony was committed, or she could mean that a coworker propositioned her. Flirting is called harassment and harassment is called assault. Molehills are made into mountains and mountains into molehills.
In reality, there is no spectrum connecting rape to untoward comments. There is a vast chasm separating the two categories. On one side of the chasm is criminal violence and on the other is behavior ranging from normal to merely inappropriate. #MeToo has tried to fill in the chasm and lump every infraction with every other kind of infraction. They are all mixed together like a stew and each separate allegation is then seen not as a separate allegation but as an element or ingredient in the stew.
4) #MeToo infantilizes women.
Feminists claim that they want to empower women, but feminists are always the ones treating women like fainting damsels. Now, because of #MeToo, we call a woman a “survivor” if she was sexually harassed when she worked as a Denny’s waitress 12 years ago. Or we may call her a survivor if she survived rape. Obviously the word is appropriate in the latter context but completely absurd in the former. It makes women seem so emotionally helpless and fragile that any uncomfortable or awkward situation will lead to a lifetime of trauma.
Women are also infantilized by the insistence that it is “victim blaming” to call for personal accountability and responsibility. So if a college girl gets blackout drunk at a frat party, has sex with a blackout drunk frat boy, and later decides the encounter was rape, we are not allowed to point out the steps she might have taken to avoid the encounter in the first place. And if an actress, desperate for a film role, decides to go up to a Hollywood producer’s hotel room, again we are not allowed to notice the part she willfully played in what transpired next. I’m not saying that these kinds of cases represent the majority of #MeToo stories, but they do represent a sizable chunk of them. And because of #MeToo, they’re all mixed together and no distinction is drawn between them.
5) #MeToo is mass hysteria.
The #MeToo movement does not facilitate a thoughtful discussion about sexual assault. It impedes the discussion. Prohibits it. That’s how hysteria always works. The hysterical mob demands your unthinking participation. It does not want to answer any questions or entertain any rational critiques. It is not interested in subtlety or nuance. You must jump on the Bandwagon of Outrage or be trampled underneath it.
In a word, #MeToo is about vengeance. It is about feminists evening the score with the dreaded patriarchy. It is not about truth, justice, fairness, or anything remotely along those lines.
And so it should be opposed.