The prevalence of sexual harassment in our workplaces and society is, without a doubt, a serious issue that needs to be addressed promptly. But feminist zeal has poisoned the search for solutions to this crisis by injecting politics and making this movement into a battle for the resurgence of liberalism in America, an unvarnished jab at our current Republican-controlled government and President.
This was never more prevalent than during the Golden Globe awards on Sunday as Hollywood’s elite tried to take advantage of the recently trending #MeToo movement through comedy, dress coordination, and rabble rousing speeches. But while some made sincere efforts to highlight the widespread problem of sexual harassment, very few solutions were offered and men, specifically white males, were used as the universal pinata. Never mind of course, that while searching for diversity, the Golden Globes picked a white male like Seth Meyers to host. And never mind, of course, that Oprah Winfrey, whose speech on the #MeToo movement already has liberals dreaming of Oprah 2020, was once a supporter of Harvey Weinstein and even worked with him on multiple occasions.
This was not the first time Hollywood used their entertainment platform to try and respond to important social issues or promote their own often liberal brand of politics. But their actions represent a growing trend where predominately liberal figures have tried taking a stand against sexual harassment while using this movement as another opportunity to attack Republicans. And in addition to exploiting the plight of women in the workplace to keep the Democrats relevant after their loss of power, this politicization of the #MeToo movement will only serve to undermine it and make long term progress against harassment unlikely. First, when the #MeToo movement becomes political, conservatives and Republican will feel obligated to tear it down or attack it in self-defense. And while some Democrats may feel that President Trump’s election shows an endorsement of or an indifference to sexual harassment by voters, the reality is that this simplistic black-and-white interpretation is wrong.
For this conclusion about Trump’s election to follow, one must first assume that sexual assault or harassment were the only or primary issues voters faced in deciding who they would vote for. But in reality, 2016 was more complicated than that. President Trump may have been morally challenged and clearly guilty of at least some form of sexual harassment but you must also take into account who his opponent was. Sure, Hillary Clinton was a woman but she was not an ordinary female politician. Hillary Clinton was the wife of former President Bill Clinton, made infamous by his Oval Office sex scandal. Furthermore, Bill Clinton had also been accused of both harassment and assault while Hillary Clinton, according to some of Clinton’s accusers, helped her husband hush up the accusations by threatening the female accusers and attacking them verbally. This of course meant that when it came to sexual harassment, neither Presidential candidate had the high ground. Furthermore, both seemed to be eager to race to the bottom in how unethical and compromised they could be, resulting in an election that was likely almost completely decided by policy choices and the desire for anybody but a Democrat to become President after Obama’s eight years.
Sexual harassment also is not prevalent in one side of the political spectrum like some #MeToo activists seem intent on convincing us. In fact, the list of accused harassers includes many celebrities like Spacey and Weinstein who are well-known Democrat supporters but also politicians like former Senator Al Franken (D), Congressman Trent Franks (R), Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D), Congressman Blake Farenthold (R), Congressman John Conyers Jr (D), and failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R). This is only a cross-section but it is pretty clear that sexual harassers aren’t inclined to a specific partisan group so neither should the outrage in response. That is not to say that I don’t think Republicans need to do more to come to grips with this crisis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) have both condemned sexual harassment consistently but haven’t been as vocal as they could and should be. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that a person like Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party and openly supported Roy Moore AFTER his accusers went public about what he did to them.
But at the end of the day, the fight against sexual harassment cannot just be another trend or a hashtag, that will come and go like the wind in our social media dominated world. And we cannot let it be a bludgeon that Democrats use to win back control of the government during elections. This is because the fight against sexual harassment is not a fight that can simply be won through a few catchy phrases and movements. Sexual harassment is a problem deeply rooted in our culture and society. The #MeToo movement really gained traction thanks to the entertainment industry and the news media but their motives aren’t as pure as we would think. After all, nothing makes better news cycles than the fall of a powerful entertainer, movie star, politician, or public figure to the accusations of those beneath them. But will the insatiable media beast in our country utilize the same zeal in exposing the average everyday people who abuse and harass their subordinates? The answer is “no” and if we let the sexual harassment fight be simply waged by the media and entertainment networks who hunger for “David and Goliath” stories, sexual harassment will continue to plague America’s working men and women.
Obviously changing a culture of harassment isn’t easy or instantaneous but there are plenty of bad influences out there that contribute to this problem. In fact, Hollywood’s own objectification of women and their bodies is probably one of the biggest culprits followed by pornography. Their objectification helps mold and shape men’s minds into seeing women as objects and they begin attributing those characteristics to the women around them as well, seeing them as models to be ogled rather than seeing them as coworkers to respect. One could also blame our education system and the generations of parents who clearly never taught their children about how men and women should appropriately treat each other and what boundaries they should have. But developing a culture of respect for women won’t come about by slamming “white men” or mocking President Trump. All that does is bury real discussions about what we can do to stop this behavior under mountains of partisan politics.
So let’s drop the partisan “destroy the patriarchy” act and make #MeToo a non-partisan national movement that doesn’t seek to dethrone a party from power but rather seeks to fix the root causes of harassment and slowly stem this tide of moral degeneracy by restoring decency to our workplaces, schools, gyms, and homes.