As is true with most feminist-driven hashtags, it was only a matter of time before the #Metoo hashtag became an attack on men. The hashtag gained prominence after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted using it. The hashtag went viral, although given how political Twitter has become, it is possible that those running Twitter simply boosted the hashtag to the top of the list.
Regardless of that, the hashtag prompted numerous women to write about their experiences of harassment and sexual violence. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. What makes it peculiar is that this comes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein fall-out. One would think the focus would center on the people Weinstein and other powerful Hollywood moguls abused. Instead, the focus shifted to talking about random instances of butt-grabbing and cat-calling.
As the hashtag became more popular, the feminists moved in and quickly shifted the focus to men. According to those feminists, men need to listen and believe and change their ways because of the “proof” the #MeToo provided of how much sexual violence women face.
Men were told to they needed to challenge their own sexist, abusive behavior, regardless of whether they have ever acted in such a way. They were encouraged to tweet #IDidThat and #HimThough in solidarity to women — and only women — who faced sexual violence.
All the usual personalities showed up to lambast men as a group for something only a fraction of men have or ever will do. The pure sexism of the #MeToo hashtag did not take long to reveal itself. The hashtag effectively reduces the seriousness of sexual violence by lumping things like bra-twanging in with rape.
The hashtag also created an ironic “me too” effect. It is probable that many of the women using the hashtag are not victims of any assault or abuse. These women used the hashtag because they did not want to feel left out or because they wanted the free attention. This is always the trouble with social media campaigns like this. One has no way of discerning true accounts from exaggerated or false accounts, and as a result the campaign, regardless of its intentions, trivializes the very issue it intended to highlight.
The other issue is that of male victims. Many men responding to and using #MeToo shared accounts of their own experiences. This did not go over well with some feminists and progressives, prompting reminders from some of them, including Marvel Editor Heather Antos, that men essentially need to check their privilege, shut up, and “be better.”
It is a not so subtle way of reminding men that #MeToo means “not you.”
In fairness, there were people pointing out that men are victims and women are perpetrators. Yet as is true in most of the viral campaigns, this got glossed over in favor of the feminist narrative than only women are victims and only men are abusers.
More disturbing is that the hashtag completely buried the point of Alyssa Milano’s tweet: that the number of men and women victimized by Hollywood’s power players is absurdly high, and there is a code of silence that keeps it hidden. This does not just apply to sexual violence against adults, either. Corey Feldman has pointed out numerous times over the years that pedophilia is rampant within the Hollywood community.
Those are discussions worth having, yet thanks to people using the hashtag to air their personal grievances, that story has been lost.
None of this is to say that women should not come forward. However, there is a disturbing trend of women, particularly progressive women and feminists, using these scandals as a means of making the story about them rather than the actual problem. When added to our media’s tendency to drop stories after a week or so (made worse by their obsession with scandalizing Donald Trump), the entire conversation gets sidetracked.
It is shameful that we cannot discuss the sexual violence within Hollywood without everyone going “it happened to me, too.” We are aware of that, however, that is not the topic of discussion. We are talking about people like Weinstein abusing their power to manipulate and abuse other people. That is a conversation we need to have as people like Weinstein far too often get a pass.
Likewise, it is shameful that we cannot discuss the topic without alienating male victims. There is no reason to ignore the men who are also targeted. People were shocked to hear actor Terry Crews state that he too was sexually harassed. Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington implied he experienced something like this couple of years ago. His comment about the sexual objectification of men was met with mockery and scorn.
If you are not willing to hear the accounts of some of the victims, then you are only perpetuating the problem you claim you want to end.