#MeToo: The new McCarthyism?
The #MeToo movement is “in danger of becoming a witch hunt,” said Karol Markowicz in FoxNews.com. The first warning signs came when an anonymous female journalist, spurred by Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, created the “Shitty Media Men” list—an online database of male journalists whom women co-workers accused of various unsubstantiated offenses, from sexual assault to “weird lunch dates.” This week, #MeToo officially went off the deep end when Babe.net published a woman’s humiliating and potentially career-destroying account of a sexual encounter with comedian Aziz Ansari. The woman, referred to as Grace, says the two went back to Ansari’s apartment after dinner, got naked, and engaged in oral sex. When Ansari pushed for more, she rebuffed him. When she finally said “no,” he called her a taxi—and she cried all the way home. “There is a useful term for what Grace experienced,” said Bari Weiss in The New York Times. “It’s called ‘bad sex.’” It’s unfortunate, but Grace freely walked both in and out Ansari’s door—and lumping him in with rapists and molesters “trivializes what #MeToo first stood for.”
And so the inevitable “#MeToo backlash” begins, said Laura Hudson in TheVerge.com. “If history has taught us anything, it is that powerful people never give away their power without a fight.” So it’s no surprise that women who have dared to speak out against creepy men—famous or not—are now being portrayed as “hysterical exaggerators or self-serving zealots.” But here’s a warning: Women who feel wronged when men don’t take “no” for an answer, or harass them at work, will no longer suffer in silence, even if some male reputations get bruised. The cries of a “witch hunt” are about nothing other than prioritizing “the reputations, power, and safety of men over women.”
True abuses of male power deserve to be punished, said Andrew Sullivan in NYMag.com, but the pendulum is now swinging too far in the other direction. Take the “Shitty Media Men” database. The list names men who sent “creepy DMs especially when drunk,” and were guilty of “flirting” and clumsy come-ons—on the same list of men alleged to have committed rapes, assaults, and other crimes and horrors. To equate the two—and subject men to anonymous character and career destruction—is true “McCarthyism.” As women bravely and rightfully redefine acceptable behavior in the workplace and outside of it, let’s not forget that “nuance, context, and specifics matter.”