Is #metoo trying to slay the wrong giant?

What has #metoo been doing?

#metoo has mobilised women, and quite a few men, against sexual predation and institutionalised sexism. This is in response to several well publicised cases, where powerful men have, allegedly, misused their status to commit sexual assaults and rapes. The victims either worked for them or were in some  situation where it was hard to say No. They had for a long time been afraid to report the crime. This publicity has given other victims the confidence to speak out too.

Do only rapists need to worry about #metoo?

No! The movement has made many people more aware of male domination, unequal pay and the unfair treatment of women. This is not just about  some individual men. In many workplaces, men think it is all right to treat women badly and women have to accept it. The #metoo movement wants to change this whole culture.

In what way is #metoo wrong?

I believe the culture everywhere should allow women to achieve their potential and not be oppressed or intimidated. I  want to see the Law applied effectively to criminals of all kinds. There are, however, two ways in which this movement could be going wrong. Most of us have heard a lot about one, but very little about the other.

What do people say against #metoo?

The most common criticism of the movement is that it encourages some women to overreact to minor affronts to such an extent that we can forget the serious ones. Some people, apparently, put as much effort into stopping bad jokes as into exposing sexual assault.

Whilst I think we need a sense of proportion in all things, there is often a slippery slope. If someone starts by getting away with minor insults, they can feel OK about treating women badly in other ways. Context is important. Something may be OK as a one-off, or where everyone knows that the alleged offender respects women generally, but it would be unacceptable if the person repeated the behaviour or if a stranger had said it.

What criticism has #metoo not noticed?

Bad treatment of women, as of racial and other minorities, is a symptom of a larger evil. Oppression, injustice, inequality, the concentration of power and disrespect for others. Some people ill-treat men too, because bullying takes many forms and finds many victims. All power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

Whenever one person is able to determine the fate of others without checks and balances, he or she is prone to abusing that power. Where money is concerned, organisations usually have rules about governance. If such rules do not exist or don’t work, financial scandals often occur. I know, as I have worked in audit. We should not be surprised, if people abuse power in other ways, where there is a lack of accountability.

Where there is temptation, there is usually sin.

#metoo is in danger of not going far enough.

If the movement concentrates on the mistreatment of women, it might leave the real giants unslain. We all need to attack injustice and oppression, wherever they occur and whoever is the victim. All human beings are entitled to be treated fairly and with respect. Power needs to be shared more equally and be subject to constraints. Perhaps, though, the #metoo movement is a good place to start.

A man with a question mark. Is he pondering the right question?
A man with a question mark. Is he pondering the right question?

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