By Ashley Sugar | Contributing Writer

When the #MeToo movement gained momentum in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. It was revealed that the entertainment industry had been protecting sexual predators against social and punitive repercussions for decades. The first exposures fulfilled a much needed catharsis for many women. But as the months have dragged on, the movement has transformed into a sorority of women looking to oust any man for the most arbitrary misconduct.

The #MeToo movement has gone too far. It is true that the entertainment business has been infested with sexual violence for years now, but the original goal of exposing those abusing their power is now a campaign against men in the entertainment industry. It is time for the movement to reevaluate its goals in order to end what has become a witch hunt. It has gained a well-deserved following, but with that influence and power comes the responsibility to do what is right.

Currently, it seems as though Hollywood celebrities are taking justice into their own hands. The legal system is being ignored while a select few celebrities are playing God and deciding who is guilty of assault within hours of a so called “allegation.” Scarlett Johansson, for example, publicly announced James Franco as guilty at the Los Angeles Women’s March in January: “How could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power?” Her PR team later confirmed her Franco accusations and denouncement. Actress Rose McGowan, another example, has also taken on the role as judge and jury on Twitter: “James Franco is a cuddly guy, but so are bears. Selectively Deaf Hollywood has heard about this asshole for years. His hipster Prince of Hollywood’s bro status protected him. Bros before Ho’s, amiright?”

Some of the accused entertainers, like Franco, are not given a chance to respond to the claims made against them and are immediately fired. Kevin Spacey was fired the day after an allegation against him was revealed. But what happened to innocent before proven guilty? When did Hollywood stars become the moral authority of the world? Since Spacey’s first accusation, many more have followed, leaving less room for doubt towards his sexual misconduct, but it only took one accusation for him to be fired and for his life to be changed forever. The swift actions taken against him, and many others, did not factor in the possibility of slander and other ulterior motives. The power has clearly risen to their heads, and they have lost their sense of responsibility along the way.

Another movement called Times Up was created in January 2018 by Hollywood celebrities response to the #MeToo movement. The focus of the Times Up movement works towards possible solutions, such as a legal fund, to end sexual misconduct around the globe.

But both movements have failed to establish a difference between sexual assault and harassment. These two actions are strikingly different, but they are being treated as one and the same. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” Sexual assault, as defined by the Department of Justice, is defined as “…any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities, such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

Matt Damon, a well-known Hollywood actor, was persecuted by critics after making comments regarding the failure to address the spectrum of allegations. Damon said, “There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?… both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” The bedevilment he received led him to revoke his comments. Although Damon may not have used the best diction, he is correct.

In the United States Justice System, there is a spectrum of crime. For example, we do not treat a purse snatcher and a violent burglar the same. Rape is a crime; however, trying to show interest in someone perhaps gracelessly is not a crime. That line has been blurred by these two movements, and everyone has become a victim of “assault.”

The detrimental effects of #MeToo and Times Up are showing. A recent study conducted by Leanin.org shows that three times as many male managers are now uncomfortable because of the targeting provoked by these movements. The number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has tripled. These movements are destroying workplace environments and are placing all males in a box called “guilty.”

These movements began because of a need to call out the sexual violence that had been present in the entertainment business, but the movement has morphed into something completely different. We should be afraid for a future where society has deemed it “acceptable” to end an individual’s life and career. A society where one can make up a slanderous accusation and get away with it in order to capitalize as a victim is not one we want to live in. This is the society you should fear, and it’s where we are heading.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Question for the author, are you as upset when people are put away for years then denied jobs and access to basic resources because of petty, non-violent crimes. Cause these folks (usually disproportionately minorities) lives and careers are often ended. Now if you’re finding yourself saying “well if they were decided as guilty by a jury of their peers”… well that’s virtually the same as what you’re describing here, except it’s statistically a lot more common for people to be falsely accused in courts than by sexual assault and harrassment survivors.

  2. Natalie Antolin

    You should understand that actual witch hunts have been violence against women, and have often included raping “witches.” I recommend reading “Caliban and The Witch” by Silvia Federici to learn more about the ways in which witch hunts have historically been used as a tool of oppression against women, just like victim blaming.
    Also- “so-called ‘allegation’” ???? They’re literally, undeniably allegations. People who try to dismiss claims of sexual assault even focus on that fact, saying “it *allegedly* happened”
    Do you know what words mean?
    Sexual harassment may not be as explicitly violent as sexual assault and rape, but it sure as hell is not the same as “trying to show interest in someone perhaps gracelessly.” I worry for your conflation with sexual harassment and flirting. Sexual harassment is a deliberate exercise of power over another person. Yes means yes and no means no regardless of how bad it was, of whether there was penetration or painful physical abuse, ANY sexual violence is traumatic. Sexual harassment is sexual violence. Lack of consent is sexual violence. Flirting with underage teenagers, like James Franco publicly did, is sexual violence.
    You are dangerously ignorant of the ways in which the criminal justice system unfairly treats marginalized groups to the point where many sexual violence survivors, especially people of color, cannot depend on the criminal justice system to serve their rapists justice. Often reporting rapes only leads to re-traumatization and victim blaming without hope for reparations.
    False reports of rapes and slander should be acknowledged and part of the conversation. Black men specifically have been historically and systematicly lynched often because of stereotypes that they are hypersexual and will rape white women. Additionally white women have made false rape/ sexual harrassment claims against Black men, as was the case with Emmit Till. Slander is dangerous and possible. But this article was so poorly informed and written. Take a WAGS class and educate yourself before deciding to publicly and proudly strut your internalized misogyny and ignorance.

  3. I applaud the author for her courage in posting an opinion contrary to the popular crowd. Ad hominem attacks will predictably follow. Well written, it would stand out as a good opinion piece even if I didn’t agree with her.

    Neither of the previous commenters offered a refutation of the primary point. A #MeToo movement out of control has become about abusing power, not about empowering women, and will hurt women in the long run.

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