by Mark Angelides
IN light of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, a mass-media campaign has been launched whose spearhead is the hashtag “#metoo.” Ostensibly it is a way of highlighting prevalent sexism and the abuse of women. But examining the idea behind it, does it actually do anything at all? Or is it a waste of time and resources that is taking away from actual programs that might make progress in this area?
For example, I would never force myself on a woman, nor would I ever use sexist language or abuse someone with sexist slurs or innuendo. I am fully aware that there are a small minority of men (and women) who DO do these things. Having #metoo plastered everywhere neither impacts me in terms of my awareness, nor would it stop me from engaging in these practices (because I would never do them in the first place).
So let’s consider a person who does engage in disgusting practices, let’s call him “Harvey.” Harvey abuses women, up to and including sexual assault. He has been doing it for years with a certain amount of “protection” form those around him (let’s call them “Hillaries” for example). All of a sudden, the #metoo campaign turns up. Does Harvey suddenly realize the error of his ways? Do the scales fall from his eyes and he becomes a model citizen? And what of the Hillaries? Do they suddenly understand that the sexual abuse that has been taking place all these years is wrong? Of course not! They already know it’s wrong!
I can see only one value to the hashtag campaign. And that is to let abused women (and men) know that they are not alone in suffering. But isn’t this something that should have been addressed already through outreach groups or counseling? Let’ be completely honest…a hashtag campaign is no substitute (nor help) for actual assistance and action.
We hear a lot about how “we need to do something.” “We?” What is it that “we” have to do? I assume that “we” do not abuse women (or men). I also assume that “we” would not put up with other people abusing those weaker than them. So what is it precisely that “we” have to do? This is the language of distraction that kicks important issues into the “long grass.” It is all very well emoting and “signaling” support, but it does nothing whatsoever for those actually impacted.
If “we” (and I include those specifically that are promoting the virtues of a hashtag campaign) really want to do something about ANY issue…the first step should always be to ignore distractions. This kind of virtue signalling is pointless, ineffectual, distracting and helps no one.
by Mark Angelides