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#MeToo: conversation turned gender disparity

The #MeToo movement’s beginning as a platform for women to speak out and show solidarity with one another as a means of therapy was the start of the conversation that America needed to have. The movement has been successful in empowering many women to express themselves. In many cases victims have chosen not to name a perpetrator, and #MeToo has served primarily as a form of healing. In other cases, like that of Harvey Weinstein, monsters have been identified and put on a platform for all to see, their reputations and careers ruined for their actions. 

However, in the case of Aziz Ansari, a bad date turned assault allegation has harmed the career of someone who has in the past been a supporter of women’s voices. Though Ansari’s actions seem inappropriate and weird, they draw no comparison to Weinstein’s wrongdoings; there is a large spectrum.  In a country where sex education is neglected and where all forms of sexual assault often seem to be uncompartmentalized and equally associated, we hardly know what to think when we hear about such cases, especially when the majority of people only read headlines. 

In essence, this mindset of guilt-by-association like that of Ansari is morally wrong. To only see one side of the story and completely agree with it goes against the American concept of justice. On the other side of the coin, so is innocence by association. Not every accusation is necessarily a truthful one, even if the accuser truly believes that it is. That is why every theft charge doesn’t end in a guilty verdict.  Furthermore, punishment in cases of theft is directly related to the amount stolen. Though putting an empirical value on sexual assault and harassment is difficult, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is impossible. 

Actor Matt Damon agreed with this perspective in a recent interview with NBC’s Today show. He stated his belief in the heart of the movement, but also suggested we need to not view all cases equally harshly. To quote Comedian Bill Maher, “Justice requires weighing things. That is why Lady Justice is holding a scale and not a sawn-off shotgun.” However, there are many who see this topic as the right of speech for a woman and for men to sit back and do nothing. To quote the actress Minnie Driver in response to Damon’s interview, “The time right now is for men just to listen and not have an opinion about it for once.” A quote like that isn’t one for the sake of progress and unity among women; it’s counterproductive for men that wish to partake in the movement. If this new movement is to truly change the way people act and see human sexuality, it is a problem for all humanity. Men need to be empowered to speak up and be active as well.

These attacks on moderation are understandable, as it is hard to put different tags on different crimes, and it is even harder to tell someone who was sexually assaulted verbally that their attacker is less guilty than the attacker of someone who was assaulted physically.  Damon, after hearing backlash from many supporters of the #MeToo campaign, made a vow to “close his mouth” on the topic after his interview. As a white male college student, it is a hypocritical and potentially demeaning thing for me to say that my voice not being heard is a problem. But, it is disappointing to hear about cases like this where men are criticized for speaking their minds about a topic where male participation is needed in order to solve it. If men and women can come together and work to eliminate this issue, progress can be made. But to do so, the #MeToo movement and its biggest supporters need to be truly inclusive. 

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