Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Downside of #MeToo

Nearly everyone is cheering the #MeToo movement. Nearly everyone believes that a frank and open conversation about sexual harassment is going to put a definitive end to sexual harassment and usher in an era of comity between the sexes. 

All we need is enhanced awareness of the problem accompanied by a series of men who have had their lives destroyed for harassing women in the workplace.

It is an article of secular faith that once we see a problem all we need is for everyone to become aware of it… and then, the problem will go away. Yet, we have already undergone five decades of enhanced consciousness raising about relations between men and women, in and out of the workplace, does not seem to have registered. It does not seem to have registered that these conversations have produced Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK et el., and not vice versa.

If you would like a more common sense approach, you can ask yourself what good can come from endless graphic public descriptions of men harassing and assaulting women. Does this make it more likely that men see women as colleagues, or does it force them to focus on the dangers that lurk beneath? Does it tell us how strong and empowered modern women are or does it show us how weak and vulnerable they are?

We already understand that many men, as a direct consequence of the auto-da-fes, will be far less likely to hire women, to support women, to mentor women, to have lunch or dinner with female staff and so on. #MeToo will probably end up damaging women’s prospects in the workplace. Lest we overlook the obvious, men and women do not just interact in the workplace. Breaking down the bonds of trust between the sexes is not going to facilitate good relations between the sexes. Stoking a hostile cultural environment serves no one’s interests.

It does not matter to those who are happily throwing themselves into the current round of male bashing, but we must recognize that trying to solve a problem by raising consciousness often makes the problem worse. At the least, it gives people ideas. Not everyone is sufficiently woke to draw the correct conclusion.

And yet, tracking the fallout from this public orgy of recrimination is anything but easy. Thus, we need to be somewhat circumspect in drawing conclusions. For all we know, the effects might have been produced by a different cause, but we regretfully feel obligated to point out that among high school students—who are certainly aware of the #MeToo movement, but who are morally underdeveloped—the open and graphic conversations about sexual harassment seem to have given boys new ideas. It seems to have produced exactly what it was designed to suppress.

The New York Post reports on the increase in sexual harassment in New York City high schools:

The number of city students charged with sex crimes in the fourth quarter of last year jumped by 73 percent from the same period in 2016, according to NYPD school-safety data.

During October, November and December, 26 students were charged with rape, sexual misconduct or forcible touching — up from 15 sex raps in the same months in 2016, the data said.

Three were charged with rape, 14 with sexual misconduct (five prosecuted as felonies), and nine with forcible touching (a misdemeanor offense), police said.

The 26 sex-charge arrests were the highest of any quarter since the NYPD began keeping track two years ago. The old record was 22 in the first quarter of 2016.

Of course, these are only the incidents that were reported. The true number is surely much higher:

Students at the complex said sexual horseplay was common, but they were under peer pressure not to report it.

“My mother says if a guy does something I don’t like, tell him no or tell her or tell a teacher,” said one 16-year-old girl at International HS at union Square. “But it’s hard. You don’t want to seem like you’re not cool or can’t take a joke, so I ignore it.”

A 15-year-old girl from the school said, “Somehow a boy gets in his head that it’s OK to treat girls a certain way. Somewhere, someone maybe encouraged it and that’s wrong. That’s a big problem.”

The NYPD logs school crimes only when officers or school safety-agents are involved.

The state also tracks a less severe “other sex offense” category involving “touching another student on a part of the body that is generally regarded as private,” among other misconduct.

Those offenses rose from 2,311 in 2016 to 2,604 last year.

Is this part of the fallout from #MeToo? Without making a definitive statement, I would merely note that it counts among the risks. People should table some of their arrogance and understand that public discussions of sexual harassment are more likely to produce more sexual harassment, and not just among high school students. And, if they produce more hostility between men and women... people who want to hurt other people can surely find more socially acceptable ways to do so.


Sam L. said...

The other sex is a ticking time bomb, for both sexes. Genders, though, ain't no way to tell.

sestamibi said...

The problem is that there is no agreed upon standard of what constitutes "sexual harassment". There has never been one, and there never will be one, because if one could be formulated, then it would challenge the undisputed power of feminists in such situations. Thus, the extreme ends of Harvey Weinstein masturbating into a potted plant (and I'm still wondering why he would think any woman would find that attractive) and some poor 19-year old sophomore at some third-rate (but still outrageously expensive) small liberal arts college traumatizing one of his classmates for having the temerity to ask her to have lunch/coffee with him are treated identically with maximum punishments imposed. And if that weren't bad enough, here's the story of what happens when the accusation is made by a third (fourth, or fifth party) against the will of the so-called "victim".

Sooner or later, there will be revenge violence, as there has been random violence by the likes of Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, and now Mark Anthony Conditt. The poor schmuck sophomore will decide that if his life was ruined on a whim, he at least should be tried in a court for an objective crime in which he will be first presumed innocent.

Ares Olympus said...

Agreed. The #MeToo movement fails because it presumes justice can occur in the public eye or in the courtroom.

Women who want power and responsibility themselves, if they want to be treated as equals, must commit learn assertiveness skills, learn how to escalate and deescalate conflict, learn basic self defense skills that can stand up to physically stronger people, and learn the spiritual warrior skill in not taking things personally. They should see that HR is not their friend, but an enabler to a false narrative that tattling is the first line of defense in adult misbehavior.