5 Questions for . . .
4. What impact do you think the #MeToo movement is having? What about its long-term impact?
#MeToo started off strong and is floundering under the counterattack of men posing as victims who are abetted by self-hating women. In our social media-driven age of instant celebrity and momentary outrage, there are no “long-term” effects. Attention spans have been sliced down to seconds. Just the other night, I was sitting at a concert, when, in the midst of a gorgeous violin solo, a well-dressed, middle-aged woman a seat over from me, turned on her cell phone and started texting. She loudly turned her fury on me when I quietly indicated she turn it off. Clearly, Trump’s disgusting public behavior is now available to everyone. It’s probably the only long-term impact on decency itself. And that includes grabbing women (and men, too) by their privates.
I find it very difficult to predict the long-term impact of the #Me Too movement, though I suspect that there has been a raising of consciousness, especially among young women, that will have a permanent effect on the relations of the sexes. At present, I think it is having an impact that while generally beneficial, particularly to the welfare of young women, is not without negatives. I would like the movement to lead to deeper self-knowledge among both men and women, an examination of not merely actions but assumptions, motives, and the complexities of behavior. I am not sure I see that happening.
The #MeToo movement has changed the conversation and exposed how widespread sexual harassment, misconduct and assault are. Most of all, the #MeToo movement has empowered those impacted to tell their stories, many expressing that the crimes committed against them were not just traumatizing and humiliating, but took away their futures in endeavors they were passionate about. My concern, however, is the possible backlash. When #MeToo first entered the public consciousness, I saw the accused as being stunned that their behavior was being called into question. I worry, however, that the accused, especially those who are powerful and well connected, will seek retribution. But the #MeToo movement has the power that comes from pain and rage. I don’t believe it’s going to fade away. Its sense of empowerment is its greatest contribution.
I predict a plateau of effort, organization and cultural conversation once the initial wave of enthusiasm and anger levels out. But that plateau will be at a higher elevation than the last, which was higher by degrees over previous “waves” of feminist discourse.