Friday, August 30, 2019

The Backlash to #MeToo

Without any doubt the #MeToo movement addressed a real problem. Workplace sexual harassment is real. It happens far too often. And yet, the #MeToo solution seems to have produced what some are calling a backlash.

As has been noted here and elsewhere, #MeToo has rendered women radioactive. It has diminished their chances for interacting with men. And it has reduced their career prospects. Why would you trust someone who might potentially threaten your livelihood and your life? After all, if the goal of #MeToo is to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, that can be accomplished by hiring fewer women and by having fewer contacts with those who are hired.

Moreover, the #MeToo movement wrapped itself in violent revolutionary rhetoric. Women were angry; they were outraged; they were going to destroy men; they were going to bring down the patriarchy; they will overthrow capitalism.

Now, ask yourself this: if you believe that women harbor such sentiments would that make you more or less likely to hire them, to trust them, to promote them, to collaborate with them? Declaring yourself to be the vanguard of the Revolution is not going to advance your career prospects. True enough, most young women are not feminist revolutionaries. That is not the question. The question is, why assume the risk? If you hire a male, even a male who is less competent, the chances of his denouncing you for sexual harassment are nil.

And ask yourself this: if you media and your sensitivity training sessions are filled with images of women being harassed, thus, being passive, vulnerable and weak, will you be more or less likely to respect women for their achievements? When women are marching in the street wearing what they call “pussy hats” will you be more or less likely to respect them for their minds?

Anyway, a new research report, conducted at the University of Houston, reported by the Harvard Business Review and The Daily Mail lays out the cost of #MeToo.

This, from the Daily Mail:

Men are now significantly more reluctant to interact with their female colleagues in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a new study suggests.

Research to be published in the journal Organizational Dynamics has found that 27 percent of men avoid one-on-one meetings with female co-workers, a possible backlash to the movement which outed manipulative men in powerful positions....

According to the research, a further 21 percent of men said they would be reluctant to hire women for a job that would require close interaction, such as business travel.
And a shocking 19 percent admitted they would be hesitant to hire an attractive woman.... 

Worryingly, the data suggests that the trend is worsening. The responses collected in 2019 from workers across various industries showed a growth in men's fears around female colleagues.

Or, from the Harvard Business Review:

But more than 10% of both men and women said they thought they would be less willing than previously to hire attractive women. Twenty-two percent of men and 44% of women predicted that men would be more apt to exclude women from social interactions, such as after-work drinks; and nearly one in three men thought they would be reluctant to have a one-on-one meeting with a woman. Fifty-six percent of women said they expected that men would continue to harass but would take more precautions against getting caught, and 58% of men predicted that men in general would have greater fears of being unfairly accused.

The question involves risk. Do you want to take the risk of hiring a woman who is a living breathing threat or do you prefer to hire a male and sleep better at night?

One notes that women managers are also less likely to hire young women. From the Daily Mail:

Meanwhile, according to the study, women also appear wary of hiring other women. And there was also an indication that men are more reluctant to shake a woman's hand in case she thinks it's harassment.   

To present all sides of the issue, I refer you to an article by feminist firebrand Arwa Mahdawi, from the Guardian. She is paranoid and hostile, imagining that women are now being punished for standing up for themselves and for rebelling against the patriarchy.

When it comes to explaining why women managers are less likely now to hire female employees, Mahdawi explains that they too are suffering from misogyny. And that they are afraid of women. Inspiring fear in others is not the same as commanding respect from others.

It’s not just men who are afraid of women, by the way. Women also appear to be increasingly wary of hiring women. The 2018 survey results found that 10% of men and women said they expected to be less willing than before to hire attractive women. (Note: the 2019 results for women are not yet public.) Internalized misogyny really is a bitch.

Obviously, Mahdawi’s remark is insulting to professional women. She is suggesting that they are tools of the patriarchy. If they do not toe the feminist party line they are simply going to voted off the island. 

By the way, would you be more or less likely to hire a female employee who thinks like Arwa Mahdawi.

Anyway, she continues:

So there you go: most men are perfectly aware of the difference between a friendly hug and a creepy hug. They are perfectly aware of what constitutes harassment and what doesn’t. Which makes you wonder why so many men are afraid to interact with women at work?

The answer to that question, perhaps, is that a lot of men aren’t so much afraid of being accused of anything as they are 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.

There you have it, angry patriarchal men, upset for being called out for their male privilege are rejecting by refusing to shake hands with women. Again, would you hire a young woman who thinks like Arwa Mahdawi? 

If we were asked to offer a different interpretation, try this. What if, just for instance, these managerial executive men are married. They have wives and children at home. How many of them were told by their wives, in no uncertain terms, that they must never ever hire or socialize with an attractive young female employee. I can assure you that some of them have.

Men might want to be magnanimous toward young women. They might know that young males are such pathetic losers that if you want to get something done, you do better to hire a woman. And yet, when they go home, their wives are telling them clearly: Thou shalt not risk your home, your family and your children in order to appear to be “woke.”

And, we might well add that the situation is probably worse than the survey suggests. How many men or even women are answering such questions honestly?


whitney said...

Not only do women not want to hire other women, most women would prefer not to have a female boss. But I'm sure that's the patriarchies fault. The truth is most women don't like other women. There's not an easy friendship that can develop like it will between men because there's always subtext and weird hidden meanings. One of my first observations as a little girl was that women always want to be in men's spaces but men have zero desire to be in women's spaces. They actively seek to avoid them. Nature always rears its head

Anonymous said...

As a much older woman, i’m benefitting from all the paranoia. Not many young studly types are going to hit on me, and if they did, I know how to handle that without running to tattle to my boss or HR.

Sam L. said...

"So there you go: most men are perfectly aware of the difference between a friendly hug and a creepy hug." Yes, and they know not to do either. Can they trust a woman to tell the difference? My magic 8-Ball says "NO WAY, JOSE; THAT WAY LIES "YOU LOSE"."

trigger warning said...

One major issue here is that the goalposts are constantly being moved. Hammurabi's whole point was the proposition that obeying laws requires laws that are clear, public, and preexist the opportunity for offense. The COTUS expressly prohibits ex post facto law. The observation that men are wary of shaking hands gives the game away. Mahdawi can kiss my behind - I'm not likely to expose myself to Schrödinger's Rule of Sexual Harassment, and I doubt most other men are, either.