#MeToo Campaign Means Nothing if It’s Temporary
Latest social media movement is providing a much-needed service to the world — but it must go several steps further, at least
Some people have criticized the growing trend of #MeToo, a social media phenomenon of women breaking their silence about sexual assault and harassment, as another example of “slacktivism” or “armchair activism” that will equal little change.
But this effort is different from, say, the #BringBackOurGirls movement — because this time it is personal.
Hollywood never shies away from crowdsourcing victimization, but this hashtag effort, inspired by actress Alyssa Milano, is not without merit.
Actresses Debra Messing, Anna Paquin, Sophia Bush, Rose McGowan, Lady Gaga, and Rosario Dawson, among others, joined in with their own #MeToo tweets in solidarity with Milano.
The truth about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and the fact that dozens of victims have come out with their own stories of abuse within Hollywood has put the other Weinsteins in the industry on notice.
Hollywood is full of beautiful, desirable, highly creative people — but no professional man or woman should have to pay a "sex tax" to an overweight pervert in a bathrobe just to advance their career, in any industry.
It's been made clear by the thousands of women of all political backgrounds who have joined the #MeToo campaign in the past few days on social media that they, too, have felt the torment and powerlessness to act in professional circumstances.
"It is a cultural issue that I think we have to face, and women posting 'Me Too' — I think gave them the courage to not have to tell their story or not have to name their predator but to just stand in solidarity," said Milano in an interview on "Good Morning America" on Thursday.
The strength of the #MeToo campaign is that it raises awareness — but its weakness is that it lacks an infrastructure or ability to create lasting change offline. It may not be enough for an actress to post a solidarity hashtag and then "not have to tell their story or not have to name their predator."
Wasn't that the problem in Hollywood in the first place? Certain people knew about Weinstein's behavior but said nothing; they wouldn't call him out on it publicly. Change and accountability cannot happen if we don't know the identity of men who have traumatized countless women with psychological or physical sexual abuse. It's easy to tweet out a hashtag — but there is little point to it if offenders remain anonymous and are able to continue to enjoy a comfortable night's sleep without consequence.
By leaving the #MeToo claims nameless — we can only know the names of the victims, not the predators.
By leaving the #MeToo claims nameless, we can only know the names of the victims, not the predators.
Actress Ashley Judd told Variety in 2015 about the common experience of harassment in Hollywood without naming names. "The exact same thing had happened to them by the exact same mogul," she said. "Only when we were sitting around talking about it did we realize our experiences were identical."
The public revelations about Weinstein's behavior are important because they've called out one the most powerful and predatory types in Hollywood — but the "#MeToo" shows that he was not unique and that his attitude, to one degree or another, exists in too many professions.
The irony of Hollywood's top stars teaming up in this effort to clean up the dirty underbelly of Tinseltown is that they had, just last year, pooled their efforts into attempting to elect a female presidential candidate — who allegedly covered up for her own sexual predator husband. This week, she showed just how feckless she is and has been in taking on predatory pigs like her friend Harvey Weinstein.
It took Hillary Clinton five full days to break her silence about her longtime friend and donor for his disgusting behavior toward women.
"I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior," she said in a statement.
In an interview with BBC last week, Clinton tried to deflect and distract from her relationship with Weinstein by calling President Donald Trump "a sexual assaulter" while simultaneously dismissing allegations about her own husband's past.
Despite her claims of being "appalled" by Weinstein's behavior, she neglected to note how Weinstein had donated $10,000 to her husband's legal defense fund amassed while covering up his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s.
When pressed about whether the Clinton Foundation would return a $250,000 donation from Weinstein, the organization admitted it had no plans to return the money, saying that money had already been spent. If Hollywood's elite thought Hillary would be in solidarity with her female comrades in taking on power-abusing sexist men, these people were again proven wrong this week by her empty rhetoric and self-serving actions.
It didn't help Hillary when Lewinsky — her husband's infamous White House girlfriend and former intern — joined the #MeToo campaign, too, with a recent tweet.
Juanita Broaddrick, who accused the former president of raping her in the 1970s, took on Lewinsky for remaining silent about being a victim of sexual harassment.
But this is not just a conversation among women. It also includes men because, despite modern feminist rhetoric, the beauty of our civilized Western culture is that most men do have reverence for the role of women in our society and enormous disdain for situations of mistreatment and injustice.
"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane was open about his disgust for Weinstein's behavior several years ago when he used the 2013 Oscar nominations announcement to take a dig at the movie producer. While introducing the list of nominees for supporting actress, MacFarlane joked, "Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein."
MacFarlane later revealed that his "Ted" movie co-star, Jessica Barth, confided in him about Weinstein's unwanted advances on her. "When I hosted the Oscars in 2013, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a hard swing in his direction," said MacFarlane.
When director Kevin Smith learned more about Weinstein's actions, he admitted to feeling ashamed for his allegiance to the now-disgraced Hollywood producer. "He financed the first 14 years of my career," Smith tweeted. "And now I know while I was profiting, others were in terrible pain. It makes me feel ashamed."
The problem of misconduct was not just directed at women over the years, but also male actors; "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Terry Crews told the world his story of how a high-profile producer assaulted him at an industry event in 2016. He admitted he decided to "let it go" because he worried about "the repercussions" of coming out about the incident.
James Van Der Beek, star of "Dawson's Creek," also recounted on Twitter how industry professionals groped him and harassed him when he was a young actor.
This scandal should not only raise awareness of grown adults trying to navigate the monsters of their own profession, but also put a spotlight on the need to protect young stars from pedophiles.
Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney opened up this week through her Twitter account, when she made #MeToo allegations about being repeatedly molested by USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar for four years.
"This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse," she wrote. "I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting."
Nassar is currently in jail on child porn charges. He currently is awaiting 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (involving other victims).
The entertainment industry needs to clean up its act.
"My hope," actress Molly Ringwald wrote Tuesday in an essay for The New Yorker about her own experiences with harassment on film sets as a teen star, "is that Hollywood makes itself an example and decides to enact real change."
Actress Rose McGowan, who last week publicly accused Weinstein of raping her, tweeted she repeatedly told the head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price, of her assault accusation against Weinstein.
"@jeffbezos I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn't been proven. I said I was the proof," she tweeted to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
Price was placed on indefinite leave after the accusations from McGowan — and now he has resigned over further accusations of his own alleged inappropriate behavior toward a female co-worker.
We've learned a few key things from the Weinstein scandal in the past few weeks:
1.) The entertainment industry needs to clean up its act;
2.) No matter the gender or age, the #MeToo campaign is providing an important service that should continue; and
3) Hollywood needs to wake up to its own hypocrisy of supporting people like Hillary Clinton or fellow sexual predator filmmakers such as Roman Polanski. The prospect of any or all of these lessons' actually being learned and acted upon is, unfortunately, slim to none.
(photo credit, homepage image: Actress Alyssa Milano..., CC BY 3.0, by Luigi Novi; photo credit, article image: Monica Lewinsky..., CC BY-SA 2.0, by Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV / Alyssa Milano..., CC BY 3.0, by Luigi Novi)