Caryn Marshall Wilder: #MeToo a slippery slope
January 11, 2018
My friend Theresa from Minnesota was furious. If the people in Alabama were being given the opportunity to decide if Roy Moore deserved a seat in Congress, why weren't the people of Minnesota being given the same opportunity to decide if Al Franken should keep his?
Like most folks, I've been following the trails of disgraced men in the public eye who are now paying the price for their displays of "can't touch me power" and other sexual perfidies. A few days in a public square confined in a stock, being pelted with rotted garbage and ridiculed by their victims seems a well-deserved first round of punishment for some of those creeps. And after that, may they share a cell with the worst of the worst in Pelican Bay.
However, as the accusations began streaming in by the hour, I found myself wondering, "Where is this going? What is the end game here?"
At first, I kept my thoughts to myself. I didn't want to seem unsupportive of my gender sisters. Yet, being a survivor of criminal sexual assault myself, I wasn't feeling that "#MeToo" jolt of sympathy in my gut from a lot of the stories I was hearing that were ruining men's lives from one day to the next.
... as the accusations began streaming in by the hour, I found myself wondering, ‘Where is this going? What is the end game here?’
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Theresa sent me links to videos of Al Franken's most credible accuser, LeeAnn Tweeden. The USO footage of Mr. Franken, who was a well-known comedian at the time, was certainly in bad taste yet I could imagine the late, beloved Robin Williams doing the same thing. That's how comedians think; anything to get that rush of laughter.
Somehow though, the footage of Ms. Tweeden slapping a country western singer on his butt while he was performing on the USO stage wasn't included in her #MeToo moment. I also watched a video of a very suggestively dressed Ms. Tweeden being interviewed by the notorious Howard Stern. His sexual overtures toward her were met with shy giggles and willing compliance. Yet her accusation of feeling demeaned brought down a U.S. senator.
As the days went by and more women came forward with their stories, I found myself feeling less and less empathetic. More prominent men were losing their careers over incidents that had happened 20 years ago and as details of each accusation emerged, they didn't seem to me to measure up to any legal standard of criminal assault or to which one could reasonably agree that the punishment fit the crime.
Theresa sent me a link to a Dec. 6 article in a publication called The American Interest, written by Claire Berlinski, a freelance journalist based in Paris. Her article, "The Warlock Hunt," had me raising my fist in solidarity. Finally, here was someone who felt as I did. I felt my feelings had been validated. Her 12-page essay on the #MeToo movement is a brutally honest, factual and fascinating expose of the panic and hysteria this movement has incited across the country and should be required reading for every woman. I encourage you to read it, right this minute!
As we know, Roy Moore was defeated and Al Franken resigned his senate seat, although the senators who wildly demanded his immediate resignation lined up to personally apologize to him for acting in such haste and not allowing the Ethics Committee to examine the evidence against him. And like it or not, that ugly scenario is partly our fault, ladies.
For 15 minutes of fame, and/or a few thousand dirty dollars tucked into a new designer purse, some of us are selling ourselves short and in doing so, negating the power, respect, and equality an older generation of women fought so hard to prove we deserved. Is this revenge worth the long-term effects it's creating?
As Ms. Berlinski warns, "This revolution risks going the way revolutions so often do, and the consequences will not just be awful for men. They will be awful for women." Read the article.
Caryn Marshall Wilder lives in Nevada City.