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Pitchforks & Torches: 9 Excesses of the #MeToo Movement

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Sunday, May 27, 2018

The #MeToo movement has done a great job exposing the likes of scumbags like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charley Rose, Bill Cosby and many, many others. However, like all movements, they are run by fallible humans who are not perfect and – surprise – can actually be wrong about something! Below is a sampling of courageous women who, facing the wrath of angry feminists, speak out with clarity and balance, and reveal the excesses of an otherwise noble and necessary movement.

1) Feminists and #MeToo advocates both actively and subtly intimidate any women who would question them in any way. 

Writing an essay for Harper’s on how Twitter feminism and extremes of the movement harms women, journalist and author Katie Roiphe had to promise anonymity:

“No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to leave out their names, and give them what I began to call deep anonymity. This was strange, because what they were saying did not always seem that extreme. Yet here in my living room, at coffee shops, in my inbox and on my voicemail, were otherwise outspoken female novelists, editors, writers, real estate agents, professors, and journalists of various ages so afraid of appearing politically insensitive that they wouldn’t put their names to their thoughts, and I couldn’t blame them.” 

2) People are quickly judged without due process. One of the women Roiphe interviewed said:

“What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence. I come from Mexico, whose judicial system relied, until 2016, on the presumption of guilt, which translated into people spending decades, sometimes lifetimes, in jail before even seeing a judge.”

3) The #MeToo movement is spreading the idea, intentionally or not, that every woman has been sexually harassed or worse, with no exceptions. Another woman Roiphe interviewed said:

“I have never felt sexually harassed. I said this to someone the other day, and she said, ‘I am sure you are wrong.’”

4) A growing and menacing hypersensitivity is being advocated that paints all women as fragile and delicate, easily harmed by the slightest word or action.  Another woman Roiphe interviewed said:

“I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like ‘creepy DMs’ or ‘weird lunch ‘dates.’ And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.”

5) Feminists are misusing social media to spew their venom. Roiphe writes:  

“But social media has enabled a more elaborate intolerance of feminist dissenters, as I just personally experienced. Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: the loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.”

6) Some honest advocates of the movement admit they may be going too far. Roiphe writes:

“One thing that makes it hard to engage with the feminist moment is the sense of great, unmanageable anger. Given what men have gotten away with for centuries, this anger is understandable. Yet it can also lead to an alarming lack of proportion. Rebecca Trais­ter, one of the smartest and most prominent voices of the #MeToo movement, writes:

‘The rage that many of us are feeling doesn’t necessarily correspond with the severity of the trespass: Lots of us are on some level as incensed about the guy who looked down our shirt at a company retreat as we are about Weinstein, even if we can acknowledge that there’s something nuts about that, a weird overreaction.’

“At first glance, this seems honest and insightful of her. She seems, for a moment, to recognize the energy that is unnerving some of us, an anger not interested in making distinctions between Harvey Weinstein and the man looking down your shirt—an anger that is, as Traister herself puts it, ‘terrifyingly out of control.’ But weirdly, she also seems to be fine with it, even roused. When Trump supporters let their anger run terrifyingly out of control, we are alarmed, and rightly so. Perhaps Traister should consider that ‘I am so angry I am not thinking straight’ is not the best mood in which to radically envision and engineer a new society.” 

All sense of proportionality is summarily dismissed. The medieval mob of pitchforks, torches and public lynching is making a comeback:

“The widely revered feminist Rebecca Solnit made a related argument in a 2014 interview, speaking in the immediate wake of California’s Isla Vista mass shooting. ‘I think it’s important that we look at all this stuff together,’ she said. ‘It begins with these microaggressions; it ends with rape and murder.’ Solnit is not arguing literally that all arrogant men will go on to sexual assault. But by connecting condescending men and rapists as part of the same wellspring of male contempt for women, she renders the idea of proportion irrelevant, and lends an alluring drama to the fight against mansplaining. She gives a gloss of mainstream respectability and intellectual cachet to the dangerous idea that distinctions between Weinstein and a man who looks down someone’s shirt don’t ultimately matter.”

7) Much of the media is complicit with these excesses, publishing anonymously crowd-sourced lists of names of alleged perpetrators. Roiphe writes:

“If we think of how we would feel about a secretly circulating, anonymously crowd-sourced list of Muslims who might blow up planes, the strangeness of the document snaps into focus. And yet the Guardian described the list as an attempt ‘to take control of the narrative by speaking out,’ while the Washington Post said ‘the point was community.’ According to The Awl, ‘a few false positives is probably an acceptable price,’ and Mashable opined: ‘Maybe the women accessing it will see a name and feel a little less crazy, a little more validated in knowing that weird interaction they had with that media guy in a bar was, in fact, creepy.’ There is something chilling about circulating lists like this, with their shadowy accusations capable of ruining reputations and careers, simply so that a woman can be sure that a weird interaction she had at a bar with a media guy was, in fact, creepy. (‘It feels Maoist,’ says one of the deeply anonymous, while others question whether the list was ever designed to remain clandestine in the first place.)”

8) Any sexual initiative, while immoral, is now also criminal. Roiphe writes:

“In one of the sexual harassment stories in New York magazine’s The Cut, Emma Cline describes a drunken evening during which the head of a literary organization sits too close to her in a cab and asks for her number on the way home from a party. (‘Why is this a story?’ one of the deeply anonymous says.) Granted, we’re now used to the endless mediation of screens in our personal lives. Still, one wonders when someone asking for your phone number became an aggressive and dehumanizing gesture rather than, say, annoying or awkward. In a way, asking someone for her phone number seems like asking for consent—it’s asking, not assuming, it’s reaching out, risking rejection. It begins to feel as if the endgame of this project is not bringing to account powerful sexual bullies but, as a male acquaintance puts it, the ‘presumptive criminalization of all male sexual initiatives.’”

9) Feminists set themselves up as morally innocent and virtuous, incapable of any transgression. Roiphe writes:

“Part of what bothers many of the people I talked to is the tone of moral purity. As a culture, we seem to be in the midst of dividing ourselves into the flawless and the fallen, the morally correct and the damned. Are the Twitter feminists perfect? Because I know I am not. A former student of mine, Thomas Chatterton Williams, wrote about this strange bifurcation on (of course) Facebook. On social media, he declares,

“I’ve come to learn that everyone is perfectly anti-racist, completely woke . . . that every man is a heroic feminist who would have singlehandedly put a halt to all workplace lechery (if only he’d been there!). It’s a good thing to learn this on social media, because in real life I was frequently meeting complicated and flawed individuals.

“Inherent in this performance of moral purity is the idea of judging other people before learning (or without bothering to learn) all the facts. Even when we knew little or nothing about what Garrison Keillor did, people felt no obligation to suspend judgment. Instead they talked confidently about what people like Garrison Keillor do, things they thought or imagined that he did, based on unspecified accusations from unknown sources (multiple allegations of ‘inappropriate behavior’). The absence of details or tangible information invites us to concoct our own opinions and fantasies and speculations based on our own experience of what someone has done to us, or on our impressions of what men in power do.”

Roiphe concludes her essay:

“I can see how the drama of this moment is enticing. It offers a grandeur, a sweeping purity to our possibly flawed and fumbling and ambivalent selves. It justifies all our failings and setbacks and mediocrities; it wasn’t us, it was men, or the patriarchy, holding us back, objectifying us. It is easier to think, for instance, that we were discriminated against than that our story wasn’t good enough or original enough to be published in The Paris Review, or even that it did not meet the editor’s highly idiosyncratic yet widely revered tastes. Or that a man said something awful and sexual to us while we were working on a television show, and we got depressed and could never again achieve what we might have. And yet do we really in our hearts believe that is the whole story? Is this a complete and satisfying explanation? There is, of course, sexism, which looms and shadows us in all kinds of complicated and unmappable ways, but is it the totalizing force, the central organizing narrative, of our lives? This is where the movement veers from important and exhilarating correction into implausibility and rationalization.”

Katie Roiphe, “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter feminism is bad for women”, Harper’s Magazine, March 2018    https://harpers.org/archive/2018/03/the-other-whisper-network-2/          

Photo:  https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2018/10/metoo-movement-more-relevant-than-ever

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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