For a movement that was supposed to help women, #MeToo seems to be inflicting a lot of unnecessary collateral damage. According to a recent study, changing attitudes have made the workplace more problematic for both men and women. This result was inevitable and, if the trend persists, further damage will be unavoidable.
As with various major progressive movements, #MeToo appears to be harming those it claims to defend. But any deleterious impact of the campaign isn’t the key issue moving forward. The core problem is the attitude of progressives whose refusal to meet men halfway will ensure that the toxicity will either continue or meet with a tremendous backlash.
A Worse Workplace
The University of Houston conducted a study analyzing the effects of the #MeToo movement on workplaces in a variety of industries. The first section of the study was designed to ascertain whether men and women have different definitions of sexual harassment.
Researchers described 19 different behaviors that could be construed as inappropriate and asked the participants whether or not these acts constituted sexual harassment. Overall, men agreed with women on the definition and were even more likely to label certain actions as unsuitable. “Most men know what sexual harassment is, and most women know what it is,” said Leanne Atwater, who ran the study. “The idea that men don’t know their behavior is bad and that women are making a mountain out of a molehill is largely untrue. If anything, women are more lenient in defining harassment.”
Then, the researchers surveyed participants’ personal experiences and attitudes toward interaction with the opposite sex at work. When it comes to male workers, the results were not surprising; the data showed that 27% of men avoid one-on-one meetings with women, and 21% of male workers are hesitant to hire a female for a position that might require close interactions with men.
The findings of the study support the idea that the #MeToo movement is creating massive problems in many places of business. But it appears much of the mainstream media does not think it necessary to cover this story. The reporters who did discuss it can provide us with an idea as to why.
It’s Still Men’s Fault!
The two left-leaning outlets that published pieces on this story were The Guardian and Jezebel. Instead of taking a deeper look at the unintended consequences of the #MeToo movement and exploring solutions, these publications just decided to blame it all on men. Makes sense.
The Guardian published a piece by journalist Arwa Mahdari, who argued that since men understand the definition of sexual harassment as well as women, they should not be hesitant about interacting with female co-workers. Mahdari questioned why males would be concerned when they don’t have to worry about accidentally offending a woman in the workplace. Fortunately, the brilliant author of the piece had the answer. She wrote:
“A lot of men aren’t so much afraid of being accused of anything as they are angry that #MeToo ever happened. They’re angry that they’ve been made to think about their behavior, made to interrogate power dynamics they always took for granted, and they are punishing women for it by refusing to interact with them.”
That’s right, folks. Men are distancing themselves from female co-workers who had nothing to do with the genesis of the #MeToo movement because they wish to punish women.
Not to be outdone, Jezebel published its own piece on the study, complaining that the results were due to men’s failure to learn from the #MeToo movement. In a piece titled, “Workplace Study Finds Men Have Responded to MeToo by Becoming Even Shi**ier,” Emily Alford wrote:
“Instead of using MeToo as a learning opportunity to become more aware of the harassment most women generally face in the world at large and in the workplace specifically, a new study has found that many men have decided to go the opposite route and simply avoid women in the workplace full-stop.”
You might be surprised to find out that at no place in the article does Alford acknowledge the reality that many men fear being falsely accused of sexual harassment. At no point does she delve into the male side of the equation. It is this unwillingness to take an honest and fair-minded look at the issue that will only exacerbate the problem.
Will There Ever Be a Solution?
#MeToo has had mixed results. The accusations that came out during the height of the movement shone a light on an important issue facing women – especially in the entertainment industry. It exposed predators like Harvey Weinstein, and empowered victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape, to name their attackers. The positive impact of the movement cannot be denied.
On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge how it has been co-opted. #MeToo has become a channel by which the left has conveyed its “believe all women” message. It has become a way to shame into silence those who would raise doubts about the story of a woman accusing a man of sexual misconduct.
This reality was on full display during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in which several women with questionable stories – some of which were demonstrably false – accused the soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice of sexual impropriety. Without #MeToo, it is difficult to believe that some of these women would have dared to go public with their apparent falsehoods.
But the attitude of some, including the writers of the aforementioned articles, is not one that seeks to find solutions. Those on the hard left are not interested in finding a middle ground on this issue at all. If both sides cannot find common guidelines regarding sexual issues, tension will only grow, and if the left keeps pushing on this matter, there will be a backlash. It may be impossible to predict the form it will take, but there is no question that it is inevitable.