5 Questions for . . .
5. Is there any validity to the claim that the current climate is dangerous for men as well as women? Do you worry about the men amongst your family and friends being falsely accused of sexual misconduct?
Let’s not kid ourselves, the only danger men face comes from the same cohort of, mostly male, sexual predators abusing women and children. I don’t worry about the feminist men in my family or extended circle of friends, acquaintances, and professional colleagues being accused of sexual misconduct, because my own #MeToo experiences left me with an acute instinct for men to trust or avoid.
I think that yes, there is a certain danger for men in the current climate. I hasten to add that this is minimal compared to the widespread acceptance and or ignoring of offensive male behavior that has gone on since time immemorial. No, I don’t worry about the men I know, family or friends, being falsely accused of sexual misconduct. I may be self-deceiving, but I can’t imagine their giving grounds for such accusations, or being involved with people who would make them.
Yes, I do have some reasonable fear about false accusations, although I don’t believe such allegations are rampant. More common are the instances of people who do not report sexual assault and suffer in silence. A greater concern for me is the prospect of men not feeling comfortable around women out of fear of being falsely accused. The irony is that what we need most to lessen sexual harassment, misconduct and assault is equality in the workplace and this mistrust will do incalculable harm to any hope of equality.
I’ve tried to be as intellectually honest as possible – taking a broader perspective while also identifying as female – and I really can’t see the scale tipping in any significant way in terms of becoming more or less dangerous for men. False accusation is one of humanity’s oldest plotlines. It’s also one of the first best ways of stoking the fires of fear in the face of social change. Judging from where that particular concern is being voiced on various media platforms, it seems to be more of a temporary headline-grabbing backlash. Time will tell whether judicial procedure, law or some other aspect of the system will shift to favor this particular concern.
The (admittedly few) men I’ve spoken with on this topic seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude, and don’t seem overly concerned. I’m personally more dismayed at watching the narrative get rewritten – what started as a long-overdue movement of individuals (mostly women) voicing that which has been largely unvoiced has become a take-sides-now story driven by fear.