As a counter-movement picks up steam, it's important to remember why #MeToo started in the first place
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It’s been under three months since the Harvey Weinstein scandal propelled a powerful socio-cultural movement yet without a formal name, but already there are those who are protesting that things have been taken too far, comparing sexual harassment allegations and the #MeToo campaign to a McCarthyite witch-hunt against men. The backlash against this upset in norms of relations between gender and power was explicit in a recent article by The Associated Press and shared by CBS Los Angeles, the Washington Post, Daily Mail, and other high-circulation media outlets titled “In Wake of Weinstein, Men Wonder If Hugging Women Still OK.” The men interviewed were quick to portray themselves as the victims of such situations, lamenting over what they viewed as new generational attitudes they did not understand. “Have we gotten to the point now where men can’t say, ‘That’s a nice dress’ or ‘Did you do something with your hair?’”, asks Steve Wyard, a sales associate. He feels the need to continue, “The potential problem is you can’t even feel safe saying, ‘Good morning’ anymore.” Reactions like his, which have been a constant, shadowy undercurrent to high-profile sexual harassment cases, not only attempt to draw the narrative away from victims but also trivialises the experiences of survivors of assault. Matt Damon’s most recent comments in an interview with Business Insider where he expresses his belief that men in Hollywood who aren’t sexual predators should be talked about more, further exemplifies that such statements and discussions, more than laughable, are an ominous sign that a backlash against the #MeToo movement, for lack of a better name, is already emerging. This whole ‘not all men’ attitude intrinsic in such comments is not only unhelpful to the narrative, it also actively hinders it. It is a derailment tactic for the focus to move away from the real issue, a defensive stance that does not add to the conversation but sidetracks it. Then there are those, fewer but more vocal, who work actively to silence women’s voices. After all, the history of progressivism and social justice has always to an extent, been a pendulum; with every swing forward, there will inevitably be those who seek to swing it back, to reinforce the oppressive system that benefits them.
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