Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Cost of #MeToo Activism

It’s called winning the battle and losing the war. The graphs offered by The Economist tell the story of the wages of activism. Of course, to be fair, I tried to warn everyone. To little avail. Women who rant and rave about sexual harassment, who flood the media with stories about sexual harassment and who demand the most severe punishments for perpetrators have not exactly succeeded in advancing their cause. They have discredited their cause.

For one, it’s not just men who get hurt by these accusations. Their wives and daughters get hurt too. I understand that the activists do not care about destroying men’s lives. But, it is more difficult to understand why they care so little for the lives of wives and daughters. Unfortunately, their rage to destroy is so overpowering that they simply do not care. Sad story.

The graphs picture the cost of activism. And the cost of unhinged rage. The #MeToo movement has within the space of a year, discredited itself. After all, emotional extremes do not persuade. They deter. Someone who is emotionally overwrought is drawing attention to her emotions, not to the situation at hand.

The Economist reports:

ONE year ago Alyssa Milano, an American actress, posted on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Within 24 hours she had received more than 500,000 responses using the hashtag “#MeToo”. Ms Milano’s tweet came days after the New York Times and New Yorker had published detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer. Mr Weinstein was the first in a long line of prominent entertainers and executives to be toppled by such investigations, which dominated the headlines throughout late 2017 (see chart below).

Even as these stories broke, it was #MeToo that resonated most on social media, as millions of women shared their experiences of abuse, intimidation and discrimination. In the past 12 months, the hashtag has been tweeted 18m times according to Keyhole, a social-media analytics company. The phrase has come to encapsulate the idea of sexual misconduct and assault. In recent months American journalists have used the hashtag in their articles more frequently than they have mentioned “sexual harassment”, according to Meltwater, a media analytics company.  

The results, as you see in the graphs above, suggest that people are turning off to #MeToo. They might have tired of the constant rage. They might have decided to measure the social consequences of trying to control sexual behavior by criminalizing deviant behaviors. They might have decided that it is not a very good idea to tear the country apart… no matter how just the cause. Or it might have decided that giving power to the people who are consumed with blind rage is a bad idea.

The Economist concludes:

Yet surveys suggest that this year-long storm of allegations, confessions and firings has actually made Americans more sceptical about sexual harassment.

If you need to select a pilot for your airplane, who would you choose, the seasoned male pilot who had touched a woman inappropriately or the inexperienced female pilot who had denounced him in public, who had ruined his life and had destroyed the lives of his wife and children?


Anonymous said...

Is this not how it works on almost every issue that may need to be addressed? The issue is first broached and a significant number of good people think lets find a solution. The radicals notice that here is an issue they can use agains't their opponents politically. Soon the radicals take over the issue and so twist it out of shape that the original issue is no longer recognizable to anyone including the first victims to say something about it.
There will be no solution or attempt at a solution because the radicals have ensured that nothing will be done. Then we get the violence from people who care nothing about the issue except that they get to beat up people and destroy things. One would thing that after seeing this happen that those who want to address an issue would know better than let radicals get control, but they fail to do what is necessary to create a coalition and worse yet do everything to make it impossible because they want to believe the worse about anyone who disagrees with them. It is embarrassing to see all rational thinking fall prey to rage.


sestamibi said...

"If you need to select a pilot for your airplane, who would you choose, the seasoned male pilot who had touched a woman inappropriately or the inexperienced female pilot who had denounced him in public, who had ruined his life and had destroyed the lives of his wife and children?"

Correction. Should read "the seasoned male pilot who was falsely accused by the inexperienced female pilot in order to get his job". Cf. Dominique Strauss-Kahn --> Christine Lagarde, Al Franken --> Tina Smith, Larry Summers --> Drew Faust, etc.

Ares Olympus said...

The problem for me is endgame. What is the goal? If the goal is to punish perpetrators and create an atmosphere of fear and distrust between the sexes, mission accomplished.

But how do you rebuild trust in men in leadership once the veil of secrecy of abuse is lifted? We still don't know how deep it all goes or how to well differentiate between drunken stupidity of boys and outright evil of men in positions of power who can cover their trail with fear and payoffs. But even in the evil of Harvey Weinstein, you see a monster who is the way he was through his own self-loathing. The greatest shame apparently sometimes enables a great drive for power and status, and power taken that way is a recipe for its abuse. Without examples, we'd all disbelieve it exists.

I don't know if the men's confessions on their never-punished exploits will help either, but it makes sense to me that the shame of necessary public denial is worse than the guilt for the original actions.

Sam L. said...

There is no end-game. Once in, you can never get out.