Welcome to the fifth anniversary of the #MeToo movement, a viral October 15, 2017, where users, inspired by Alyssa Milano, posted 12 million Facebook posts and over 1 million Tweets with the #MeToo hashtag within 24 hours. It’s nothing to celebrate. The movement let a stampede of popular pressure trample what women and men actually need in the workplace.
The early movement seemed like a good idea. As Megyn Kelly put it, “It was about just stopping men from making sexual favors at the office a condition of advancement.” But the conductors of the #MeToo train were headed in a different direction: enfeebling men and using women as tools for their own power and fame.
The #MeToo posse published Amber Heard’s defamatory op-ed with great fanfare. They viciously labeled a sitting federal judge, who had passed multiple FBI background checks, a gang rapist. They destroyed careers by creating “Sh**ty Men” Google docs to anonymously accuse people of untoward behavior, from creepy to criminal.
“So what?” the #MeToo ally responds. A few men suffer so that women can finally speak their truth. Is that really so bad?
Women are being harmed. In 2018, researchers at the University of Houston found that “19% of men said they were reluctant to hire attractive women, 21% said they were reluctant to hire women for jobs involving close interpersonal interactions with men (jobs involving travel, say), and 27% said they avoided one-on-one meetings with female colleagues.”
Today, 46% of adults say the movement made it harder for men to interact with women at work. Hey girl, good luck getting that promotion when your male supervisor won’t interact with you, but will get lunch or whiskey (or both!), play golf, and quietly gossip with your male colleague. The opposite sex barrier was always an awkward one to overcome as a woman in the workplace, but now it’s even harder.
Men are being harmed. The #MeToo website claims that more than 80% of women have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Goodness! That type of statistic, meant for shock without context, would indicate the vast majority of men are deviants. (Turns out 77% of it is “verbal” harassment, including unwanted invitations for dates. But no one will tell you that.) These statistics, told over and over again without background, affect how people view men. No wonder men account for 80% of suicides. No wonder one-third of all working-aged men aren’t doing anything: they aren’t working and they aren’t looking for work. No wonder that in criticizing the patriarchy we’ve gotten rid of patriarchs, also known as fathers. One in four children lives without a father in the household.
Could we at least learn from our mistakes? Instead of rushing to seek the high honor of Twitter likes, our cultural and political leaders should ask themselves: What is the reality in the workplace? Where we see problems, who should address them, and how? Will there be negative consequences in making sex-wide stereotypes?
Too bad for us, the U.S. Senate hasn’t received the message. The “Speak Out Act,” which seeks to ban workplace nondisclosure agreements nationwide (I’ve written it is unconstitutional), was passed without dissent from the Senate. Its latest iteration adds a bevy of “findings,” including that “sexual harassment and assault remain pervasive in the workplace and throughout civic society, affecting millions of Americans” and “81% of women” have been harassed or assaulted. Hmm.
The most common “harassment” in the underlying study has nothing to do with work—it’s idiotic whistling or honking off the side of the road. Honking? Really? But you can bet that plaintiff lawyers will start to bring claims against employers, labeling 4 out of 5 female employees likely victims of workplace abuse. Good luck to women getting hired when 4 out of 5 of them is a walking liability, according to Congress. And what’s to stop the micromanaging of the workplace by Congress, if 4 out of 5 women actually were assaulted at work?
On this dubious anniversary, let’s end the virtue-signaling madness. It’s not harmless talk, it has real consequences. Women face problems in the workplace. Sometimes it’s overt and unlawful misconduct. But, more often, it’s the cost of gas, lack of access to male mentorship, problems with other women, or terrible maternity policies. When our leaders chase fads rather than listen, both sexes are worse off.
This October 15, as the media fawns over the progress of women, perhaps ask yourself what #MeToo has done for you.