Social 12 November 2018 | 17:29

Has #MeToo become a ‘sicko tennis match’?

12 November 2018 17:29

‘Has the #MeToo movement gone too far?’ This is a question that I’m sure weighs on the minds of Harvey Weinstein and Philip Green, as they face sudden exile from their past lives. It worries Trump, too, who believes that ‘it’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of’. Mothers of sons also feel the fear: could my darling child be next to lose his job to a slanderous allegation?

This wasn’t ever really a concern I took seriously. Sure, it might be scary to be a bloke now, but being a woman has proved to be a far more treacherous twist of fate for the past few centuries. However, with all of the career-ending headlines that have circulated the internet over the past year, I can acknowledge that perhaps #MeToo has unravelled into a sensationalised media circus that takes away from its original purpose.

Last week, in The Washington Post, the founder of the movement, Tarana Burke, made this very point. Having originally coined the phrase in 2006, Burke didn’t ever really intend on leading a witch hunt against all sexually inappropriate men, she just wanted to create a network to support survivors of abuse.

‘The media’s fed the fire,’ she told the Post. ‘In those initial articles, women were not calling for anybody’s head. They didn’t say, as a result of this, “We want Harvey Weinstein out. We want him dead.” The call was, “We want the world to hear what we’ve been through. We want the world to understand the system that we are living in that allowed this to happen. We want the world to see what it takes for a woman to survive and thrive in this country.”’

She went on to say: ‘These women spoke, Harvey Weinstein lost his job. These women spoke, Matt Lauer lost his job. These men spoke, Kevin Spacey lost his job. It became this, like, sicko tennis match, almost.’

#MeToo stories make perfect front page news. It’s textbook: there’s sex, there’s scandal, and there’s potential for a tragic fall from grace. We lap it up and we’re probably still hungry for more. But we all love to boo the villain, while often little thought extends to the abused, and what could be done to prevent sexual violence going forward.

Has the #MeToo movement really gone too far? I don’t think so. People who do bad things must still be held accountable for their actions, but equally, there’s a danger of the hashtag being re-purposed for branding the accused, instead of acting as a pillar of solidarity amongst survivors. No matter how out of hand people believe the movement has got, #MeToo is still as important as ever, we just have to remember why.