MeToo: Trials and Tribulations

Posted by – March 04, 2024
Categories: Excerpt Society & Politics

Written by journalist and Jezebel staff writer Kylie Cheung, Survivor Injustice exposes the connections between domestic abuse and state-based violence. In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we offer the following excerpt on the institutional backlash of MeToo and its dependency on powerful men to do the right thing. 

Content warning: This excerpt contains mentions of sexual violence, sexual harassment, rape, and abuse. 

MeToo: Trials and Tribulations

For all the internet hot takes about how terrified men supposedly are about being falsely accused of abuse post-MeToo, breeding the short-lived 2018 hashtag #HimToo, it’s indisputable that MeToo has changed many women’s day-to-day lives for the better. Alarmist prioritization of an infrequent male experience of being falsely accused can’t erase the positive impact this women-led movement has had on society, and certainly on women’s lives.

Yet despite the revelations and deeply important triumphs of MeToo, we’re painfully confronted with the institutional power of backlash against the movement. MeToo has been rendered severely dependent on whether powerful men, who are far too often enablers or perpetrators of sexual abuse themselves, have consciences or moral backbones. We’re at the mercy of said powerful men choosing to do the right thing—senators choosing to reject a Supreme Court justice nominee accused of abuse, network executives severing ties with abusers. For all men’s claims of MeToo ruining their lives, the movement’s power has generally been limited to some social repercussions, five minutes of outrage in a fast-paced news cycle. Meanwhile, because of the priorities of our patriarchal government and its reliance on carceral rather than transformative solutions to violence, victims of abuse still aren’t getting what they need to heal, and are still left unprotected.

As often as we hear MeToo has “gone too far,” or what a “scary time” it is “for young men,” to quote our former president, we rarely hear the perspectives of women who feel safer today because of MeToo. When we hear about “lives being ruined,” the lives in question are abusive men’s—we rarely hear about the lives of women and girls that are ruined by the lifelong impacts of surviving sexual harm, or the opportunities women are denied by men who are too “scared” of MeToo to hire them. As a result of MeToo, some men were forced for the first time in their lives to think of how their words and actions might make women around them feel; this—conscientiousness—was apparently too much to ask for. Why ask men to think about their actions, when we could instead maintain a world in which women, girls, and femmes are forced to live in a perennial state of discomfort and fear?

Amid endemic male hysteria about abusers facing consequences, we rarely hear about the ways sexual violence is actually expanding rather than narrowing in scope—alarming surges in online sexual harassment; cyber rape, or “revenge porn,” the nonconsensual distribution of women’s nude photos on the internet; deepfake artificial intelligence-generated porn depicting real individuals without their consent; and new, “trendy” forms of rape like stealthing, when a man removes the condom without his partner’s knowledge or consent. Stealthing, which first entered the cultural lexicon largely because of Reddit discourse in the 2010s, amounts to rape because the victim consented to intercourse on the condition that it would involve use of a condom. On the state and federal levels, victims of online harassment, cyber rape, and forms of sexual assault like stealthing often have limited legal protections, as geriatric lawmakers struggle to catch up with the times and adapt to the new forms of sexual violence in a digital age.