Sunday, December 10, 2017

#MeToo

The #MeToo in the title doesn't refer to me personally.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the #MeToo movement (background HERE), which isn't all that difficlt a task, given the daily disclosures of sexual misconduct by those in the media, entertainment and politics, all resulting in a wave of quitting that would make Sarah Palin proud(1).  Some of these self-inflicted wounds make me cringe; think Garrison Keillor(2).  Others?  Well, let's just say that Matt Lauer is a special breed of scumbag.

It's worth noting that everyone as a right to due process, and there are always two sides to every story.  However, when several people who don't know each other tell similar stories of abuse, well, there's at least room for discussion.  What's more, no one is entitled to be a media powerbroker, Today Show host, politician, Senate Candidate, etc.  Those are privelidges, not rights.  If you want to make a living in the public eye, well, you have to take both the good and the bad that goes with the gig.

Anyway, here's the central point worth making:  The #MeToo movement, in my mind, isn't about...

...men
...patriarchy
...sex

...it's about power.  If you think otherwise, well, I think you're blinded to the real issue at hand.  

Folks engage in this kind of behavior because they can.  They have taken to believe that, by virtue of their awesomeness (as they have been told), they can pretty much do whatever they want.  The power to do whatever one wants is ultimately corruptable.  The fact that more men engage in this kind of behavior is simply a symptom of the fact that more men in our society are in positions of power than women.  

I'm not excusing bad behavior by men, for the record.  As the father of three young professonal women, well, I worry mightly about their well-being.  What I am saying though is that there plenty of men who never engage in this kind of behavior.  Even men in positions of power and authority.   Using #MeToo as a blunt instrument to talk about men in general steers an important debate into an area that will result in nothing productive.   

What's the solution?  Well there isn't one.  This isn't a "do this and it will get fixed" kind of thing.  A big part of this whole mess has to do with American celebrity culture:  We worship the famous and powerful, and thereby give them license to whatever they want.  You see the headlines all the time.  Excusing bad behavior in one area opens the door to the perception of excusable bad behavior in another.  And there's a long way to go:  Roman Polanski (see THIS posting from 2009) is still celebrated by Hollywood and living a good life in France.

While I don't think there is a solution to this problem, I do believe that #MeToo is ultimately a healthy exercise, provided that it isn't too broadly focused.        





(1) Famous Quitters should be a Jeopardy! category.
(2) Mr. Keillor maintains his innocence, as of this writing.  See THIS link for more information and THIS link for a statement from Mr Keillor.

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