A Discussion about #MeToo

For several months, the #MeToo movement has sparked dialogue about sexual assault and institutionalized sexism throughout the country. At the College of William and Mary, we’ve been routinely engaging in these conversations about misconduct and harassment since the first day of freshman orientation. I credit our institution greatly for placing an emphasis on fostering awareness of such meaningful topics, and I’m glad to be part of a community that prioritizes dialogue over complacency. 

 

However, while allegations of sexual harassment continue to arise against actors in Hollywood or politicians in Washington, D.C.; the country as a whole is woefully incapable of confronting the misogynist underpinnings of our national psyche. While #MeToo enjoys groundswells of support among younger generations, it is abundantly evident that opposition to the movement persists throughout large swaths of the American public. A Pew poll released in April found that 51% of respondents said the #MeToo movement has made workplace interactions more difficult for men, and that the movement was unlikely to result in lasting societal progress. 

Regardless of partisan leaning, we should all be able to agree that the #MeToo movement is predominantly a conversation about sexual assault and harassment towards women. I’m baffled as to why we need to concern ourselves with how men feel in the workplace considering our national discourse has almost exclusively been directed towards incidents and aggression towards women. As a man, the fact that 51% of my gender feels somehow threatened by #MeToo looks like nothing more than a glaring display of culpability.  Men in the workplace wouldn’t feel intimidated by this conversation unless they themselves played a role in cultivating hostile and misogynist environments. From my perspective, it seems that only men that are scared of getting caught could be so resistant to #MeToo, and at the end of the day, if there’s a fear that your actions could be misconstrued as harassment, they probably are harassment.