Is #MeToo Being Hijacked By Attention Seekers?
And so begins the #metoo backlash. Women are speaking out and saying what a lot of people have been thinking, but didn’t want to voice, fearing a backlash. Right now, speaking out against #metoo and Times Up is like saying you voted for Trump. And it’s a true gray area as while you’d be hard-pushed to find a woman who isn’t glad that finally justice is being served, you’ll also find plenty that are starting to feel that maybe it’s all going a little bit too far.
Viral campaign #MeToo went global last October after actress-turned-activist Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” The hashtag was subsequently tweeted nearly a million times in 48 hours. In response to #Metoo a group of more than 300 leading women in Hollywood, including Reese Witherspoon and Shonda Rhimes, formed “Times Up” as the next step in the movement, an initiative that promises to help women struggling with sexual harassment and pay disparity and shake up decades of discrimination in Hollywood.
Worldwide women are speaking up, revealing what they really think about the #MeToo campaign with a common thought that the movement has been hijacked by attention seekers and used as an excuse to launch a mass attack on men, the fear being that fake accusations will undermine genuine accusers. Sharing their views anonymously via social app Whisper, many users from around the world confessed they believe attention-seeking individuals now overshadow the pain of real victims.
Influential feminist Germaine Greer has also criticized the “whingeing” #MeToo movement. Recently named Australian of the year, Greer in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald said “what makes it different is when the man has economic power, as Harvey Weinstein has … if you spread your legs because he said ‘be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that.” She also went on to say she had “always wanted to see women react immediately” when they were faced with sexual abuse or harassment.
The #MeToo movement has quite rightly illuminated the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, but in doing so has effectively changed one of the favourite pastimes: workplace flirting. Office romance is now apparently at a 10-year low. Does the #Metoo movement mean expunging all workplace banter and flirting? A group of outraged French women recently issued a letter that denounced #MeToo, arguing that a woman could possess workplace power and still enjoy being sexualized. In fact, in the UK alone 38 percent of people have dated a coworker and a whopping 31 percent of those romances lead to marriage.
The #metoo and Times Up movements have the potential to become a witch hunt, already criticized for “trial by social media,” inciting vigilante justice, and for unearthing a slew of bad feminists who threaten to overshadow the amazingly positive message being made here. Women are in general not men haters, but a (hopefully) small section of supporters are utilizing this current momentum for their own benefit and that is where damage is being done and the message becoming muddied.
Last week #metoo took down two patriarchs of the photography world — Mario Testino and
Bruce Weber — when the sexual exploitation of models and photographic assistants came to light. Thirteen male assistants have come forward to accuse Testino of sexual abuse dating back to the mid 90s. One of the most revered photographers in the world, Testino captured Princess Diana for British Vogue and took the official royal engagement photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Bruce Webber, too, is similarly iconic known to many as the “Godfather of Fashion Photography.” This follows the fall of Terry Richardson, who has been subject to accusation on several occasions, but was only cast aside after the Weinstein scandal broke.
It’s starting to feel like no one we have ever looked up to or idealized is a “good guy.” Respected actors from Dustin Hoffman to Kevin Spacey to James Franco have been implicated and the #Metoo list grows daily. The can of worms is well and truly open and all over the floor and we wait with dread the next shock revelation. Despite this time of female empowerment the paradox is that as a female writer I’ve never felt more censored, more aware of being judged for having an opinion that might even slightly differ from the norm. I wholeheartedly agree with the premise behind the #Metoo and Times Up movement and I support and welcome the positive changes these actions are making in society. I know that ultimately they are fighting the good fight, but, as with all bandwagons, there are always plenty of people waiting to jump on for the ride and it is these people that make me decidedly nervous.