Social Topics

#MeToo: Pros and Cons

The #MeToo movement has been unfaltering for almost two years. With this movement, like any other movement, there has been both positive and negative reactions. Sexual abuse awareness became more known because of the movement and concrete changes are being made. Some abuses are being missed or even used for wrong reasons.

Pros

Publicity helped the original MeToo organizer

Alyssa Milano is the originator for #MeToo. Within the first 24 hours over half a million occurrences of #MeToo were posted. It became known soon after that Tarana Burke already had an organization called Me Too which was geared toward the same kinds of abuses that the hashtag was linked to on Twitter. Tarana was able to create a PSA campaign to show stories of survivors of sexual violence and reinforce the direction for the #MeToo movement.

More confidence in reporting abuse

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Criminal Victimization report says there was an increase of accounts of sexual assaults and rapes made to the police from 2016 to 2017. Although the report doesn’t identify #MeToo as the cause for this happening, it is the most likely reason why survivors are more comfortable speaking out.

Recognized abuse in Hollywood led to other assaulters being punished

Just a year after #MeToo started, at least 425 people had been accused of a broad range of sexual abuses spanning from rape to abuse of power. This number comes only from public media reports and doesn’t include incidences that didn’t make the news. The accusations spread from the entertainment industry to other industries with more people coming forward throughout the year. Of the accused, starting with Harvey Weinstein, there have been an additional two hundred men in prominent positions who have lost their jobs.

Laws are being passed to help support employees who experience sexual abuse

For businesses to make changes to the company they need to go through Human Resources. It has become apparent to many that most HR procedures benefit and protect people from sexual abuse allegations who are in higher positions in a company. The #MeToo movement has put pressure on organizations to make changes. As sexual abuse awareness becomes more culturally accepted, companies will start making changes. Legislators have been trying to pass bills with a focus on helping survivors through improving limits to nondisclosure agreements, testing rape kits, expanding statute of limitations and reexamining state workplace harassment policies. The organization “Enough is Enough” proposed nine different legislative or policy changes at a congressional briefing in order to help legislators create policies. For the most part, lawmakers have been focused on specifics like nondisclosure agreements or mandatory reporting of sexual abuse so that it is more likely to pass then an omnibus.

Cons

#MeToo has been used as a platform for abuses not related to sexual abuse

The #MeToo movement has been used in protests not strictly about sexual abuse but expanded in ways that are only partially connected such as pay equity, hierarchical power and gender representation in the workplace. Tarana Burke said that, “Part of the challenge that we have right now is everybody trying to couch everything under #MeToo.” The main issue gets diluted by a lot of other issues and the message becomes unfocused. The movement then no longer represents what it says it represents. Burke continued to say, “It is hurting the work we’re trying to do. Because you can’t cover so much, and so many things. And sexual violence is wide enough.”

Biased support has caused disapproval and skepticism of the movement

With the range of allegations and fulfilled punishments that happened from October 2017 to October 2018, the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing visualized the words and arguments that had been said through twitter and articles. A perception came forward that based on words alone someone could be punished or prosecuted without due process. Whether this is true or not, a survey that The Economist conducted showed that in the final week of September 2018 Americans polled had opinions against victims more than before.

False accusations thought to be a likely outcome from #MeToo

A survey taken among 2,201 adults shows that they are as concerned about false accusations on men as they are about sexual abuse on women. Articles about false accusations show occurrences on college campuses, during divorce proceedings and cases, like Junot Díaz, who was accused of varying degrees of sexual abuse. False accusations are worrisome because they cause irreparable damage. Police are rarely able to correct the accusation and if they can resolve some of the issue, the falsely accused is still affected as shown in this article, ‘Jared’ and ‘Kate’: A False-Allegation #MeToo Saga That Police and Prosecutors Got Right.

No consideration for sexual abuses against men.

In the original twitter post made by Alyssa Milano, there was mention only that women should respond to the post if they were sexually abused. This presupposes that men wouldn’t need to respond as a victim of sexual abuse. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) did research on a theory that there is a “prevailing assumption that men rarely experience sexual victimization.” Based on data from five federal surveys they concluded that there is frequency of sexual abuse among men that, in many cases, occurs just as frequently with women. They also found that this misperception is caused by some main factors of gender stereotypes, survey data that excludes inmates and inconsistent definitions of sexual abuse. Their main solution is to “move beyond regressive gender assumptions, which can harm both women and men.”

Conclusion

The unwavering, constant presence of #MeToo has created strong opinions of the movement both positive and negative. This movement is a great example of where we are as a country and how we perceive each other and our opinions. More survivors are gaining confidence to speak out about what has happened to them and creating pressure on society to do something about it. Disregard of sexual abuses against men and biased support of #MeToo causes distrust in the movement and a belief of malicious intent to create false allegations. If there is ever truly going to be full support for the #MeToo movement or any other movement, both sides need to be heard and considered.

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