Sunday, October 14, 2018

The #MeToo War on Men

Strangely enough, the #MeToo movement began as an attack on men in the media and entertainment industry. Movement leaders pronounced themselves to be outraged over the sexual predations of Donald Trump, but, in truth, those facts, such as they were, were cancelled out by the fact that his opponent on the presidential ballot was the nation’s leading enabler of sexual harassment. Hillary Clinton's presence immunized Trump from attack.

In Hillary’s name, in a grand historical irony, women have taken out after men who are progressives and even leftists. Among the more flagrant attacks on men was what was called the Shitty Media Men list, in which men in the media were anonymously accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Some of the charges seemed to be manifestly true. Some were disputed by those named. Now, however, one man, Stephen Elliott is attacking Moira Donegan and the other unnamed contributors to the list. Having been accused of rape, Elliott is suing Donegan et al. for defamation.

Bari Weiss reports on the case for the New York Times. She opens with an interesting question.

What do you do if you are accused of sexual misconduct and believe yourself to be innocent?

But if you’re a progressive man who sees himself as a feminist ally, the politically acceptable strategy is to keep quiet and lay low. If you do anything at all, put out a statement saying you support the #MeToo movement, that it’s an overdue and necessary corrective, and that you are taking some time for self-reflection.

How about, what if you are innocent? Doesn't that happen? Or else, what if you behaved boorishly toward women but never raped one? Amazingly, some of the men who were accused of crimes but thought they were innocent, chose not to dispute the charges. They believe in the #MeToo movement and are willing to accept infamy to advance their cause. They call it taking one for the team, but really they are martyring themselves for a cause. Which is not the same thing.

Five of the men on the Media Men list on Thursday spoke to The Cut on the condition of anonymity to condemn Mr. Elliott’s lawsuit. What’s fascinating is that even as they expressed anger toward Mr. Elliott, most insisted that they, too, are not guilty of what they are accused of. But the collective sense is that Mr. Elliott should do what they’re doing: “taking one for the team,” as one of them put it.

A year ago, that’s where Mr. Elliott was. “Multiple people asked me at first if I was O.K. just taking a bullet for the movement,” he told me. “Because of their politics and, frankly, because of mine.”

Until recently, Elliott had accepted martyrdom to advance the feminist cause.

Stephen Elliott, the founder of the left-wing website The Rumpus, followed that script. A year ago this month, his name appeared along with some 70 others on an anonymously sourced Google spreadsheet. It was called the Shitty Media Men list and the accusations ranged in severity from “weird lunch dates” to “rape.”

Rape is what Stephen Elliott was accused of. His entry, along with more than a dozen others on the list, was highlighted in red to denote physical violence. It read: “Rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment, a dude who snuck into Binders” (a women-only Facebook group).

Note the range of crimes, from “weird lunch dates” to “rape.” Why are these all being conflated under the category of sex crimes. Does it diminish the horror of rape to have it included on a list that calls men out for weird lunch dates?

In the past Elliott has been accused of bad behavior:

And the Shitty Media Men list was not the first time Mr. Elliott was publicly accused of bad behavior. In a 2015 essay in Tin House, the novelist Claire Vaye Watkins portrayed Mr. Elliott as a tone-deaf misogynist — and made the case that his “professional sexism” exists on a continuum with sexual violence.

In the wake of his Quillette essay, two more women came forward with complaints.

Lyz Lenz, who is now the managing editor of The Rumpus, tweeted about an instance where Mr. Elliott “invited me up to your room to watch a movie” and didn’t “take no for an answer.” Ms. Lenz says that he “hounded” her and she “hid under a table.” And Marisa Siegel, who is now the editor of The Rumpus, wrote in an essay about how she was “shaken” after Mr. Elliott “barged” into her hotel room during a conference and stayed for at least 30 minutes.

The problem is the continuum… What these women consider sexist behaviors, which can run the gamut from an inappropriate look or remark to a rape, have now become all of a piece.

Thus, a man who has cast an inappropriate look at a woman or who spoke to her in terms that are considered sexist has now committed a felony. And thus, is deserving of the most harsh punishment. Even if he didn't do it, he's a man, suffused with toxic masculinity, so he is guilty until proved innocent.

Of course, the continuum concept would be laughed out of court, but among feminists, male and female, it is enough to destroy a man’s career, his life, his reputation and his family.

Given that this has now become a war, the notion that the punishment should be commensurate with the crime has disappeared from radical feminist discourse. As has the notion the the accused should be allowed due process of law.

Since two women complaining about Elliott have now taken over his job, one might imagine that they were self-interested. And that they were affecting a palace coup.

A court will apparently decide whether Donegan had a malicious intent in creating the list, whether she wanted it to go public. One might say that if she imagined, after passing it around to her closest friends, that it would not go public, she was hopelessly naive. Besides, what purpose would it have served if it had remained private.

This account of maliciousness does not at all square with how Ms. Donegan has described her aim in creating the list.

She wrote in New York Magazine that the list was “meant to be private” — a written version of a whisper network — and that, unlike an HR department or the police, “the value of the spreadsheet was that it had no enforcement mechanisms: Without legal authority or professional power, it offered an impartial, rather than adversarial, tool to those who used it. It was intended specifically not to inflict consequences, not to be a weapon — and yet, once it became public, many people immediately saw it as exactly that.”

As for Donegan’s intention, she clearly was trying to destroy men. Her tweets tell the story:

He [Elliott] is planning to provide documents to the court that he thinks prove Ms. Donegan’s intent was malicious. Chief among them are since-deleted tweets, like:

On Oct. 26, 2017, she tweeted: “I like the witch hunt but I love that it happened in October.” The next day she wrote: “Small, practical step to limit sex harassment: Don’t employ any men.”

On Nov. 15, she wrote about the Paris Review Editor whose name was on the list: “As if both of those things weren’t obvious already, I’m interested in Lorin Stein and my DMs are open.” Then, when The New York Times published an article about the resignation of Mr. Stein, who apologized for inappropriate behavior, she tweeted the article with an invitation: “champagne anyone.”

Whatever noble intentions it had at first, #MeToo seems to have become a way to destroy men, to remove them from positions of authority and to replace them with women:

Over the past year, as #MeToo has morphed into a verb, I’ve been involved in heated discussions about any number of men who have been MeTooed. About Al Franken. About Leon Wieseltier. About Louis C.K. About Brett Kavanaugh.

In all of those cases, it is possible to ask: What is the appropriate punishment for behavior that is wrong but perhaps wouldn’t stand up as a crime in a court of law?

It's a bad idea to declare war when you are... outmanned. Rest assured, this is not going to end well. Especially for women.


Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

In an absolutely delightful expression of ovarian rage, witches are meeting in NYC to cast a hex on Justice Kavanaugh. Newsweek, a former newsmagazine, reports that the Catland Books event was sold out. After the hex is baked, the witches plan Rites of the Scorned One, a process to transform rage into "sustainable" (and presumably renewable) energy. Fifty percent of the gate will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Pyewacket was not available for comment.

Sam L. said...

"It's a bad idea to declare war when you are... outmanned. Rest assured, this is not going to end well. Especially for women." Couldn't happen to nicer people.

djf said...

"Over the past year, as #MeToo has morphed into a verb, I’ve been involved in heated discussions about any number of men who have been MeTooed. About Al Franken. About Leon Wieseltier. About Louis C.K. About Brett Kavanaugh.

"In all of those cases, it is possible to ask: What is the appropriate punishment for behavior that is wrong but perhaps wouldn’t stand up as a crime in a court of law?"

This pathetic writer can't even bring herself to articulate the possibility that the alleged "behavior" may not have happened at all. Throwing Kavanaugh's name into the same paragraph with three exposed degenerates --- none of whom disputed his guilt, as Kavanaugh did --- is despicable. It's a problem for the left that all of the genuine low-lifes so far caught in MeToo's net have been prominent progressives (so far as I recall at the moment).

Ares Olympus said...

I'd guess all men would prefer to be assaulted in private than accused in public about real or imagined private behavior. It's easy for men to want to be supportive of the #MeToo movement as long as its calling out behavior we THINK we've never done.

But if bad dates are also a target, especially bad dates not even as remembered but as reconstructed, any man is vulnerable to being shamed for behavior that he might not even remember. And they say false accusations are rare, but that doesn't mean exaggerations are rare. And if accusations are anonymous, surely false accusations will increase.

Perhaps Camille Paglia can save women from themselves? Maybe she can go on a speaking tour to teach women how slapping works and then how to kick when men are foolish enough to slap back.

Diana Davison said...

Excellent commentary!
This lawsuit isn't just about Stephen Elliott and I can tell you as a person helping falsely accused for years that most simply don't have the fortitude or resources to go forward with a defamation case. This is bigger than Stephen Elliott. Similar lists have popped up all over and the accused DO commit suicide, even when they are innocent.