Why you should care
Because this could be the biggest social shift in decades.
This week, new allegations of sexual misconduct against comedian and regular commentator on modern relationships Aziz Ansari divided public opinion — with some decrying his reported behavior as “coercive and violative” and others simply dismissing the young woman’s account of her experiences with Ansari as “revenge porn.” Both anti-harassment activists and the public at large seem divided about whether men like Ansari should be caught in the #MeToo net or whether that undermines its goals. In this light, last week we asked: Has the movement against sexual harassment gone too far? You answered, and here are your thoughts, edited for clarity.
Wendy Wright, Vallejo, California
I see a few things we all should consider. First, due process. It’s easy to accuse. Accusations are on the front page; retractions are buried on the last page. Second, there seems to be very little differentiation made between awkward advances, clumsy moves, failing to stop behavior when it is made clear it is unwanted and then advances or “expectations” of a superior over a subordinate. Last, this may boomerang and cause those in positions of power — mostly men but some women also — to not advance women because they just don’t want to risk the possibility of an accusation at some point.
Fraser Quibell, Derby, U.K.
Not far enough. Not until equal pay and morons understand the difference between flirting and sexual harassment will it need to be called down.
I think it could be handled differently; abuse is not a guy coming onto you and you acting all coy, waiting to tattle it all over Facebook. It’s not regret after the fact. It’s not holding placards. Some of these cases sound like true abuse, yes, and in a case like Weinstein (or Trump), sure, let the guy burn. But others sound like cases of guys clumsily flirting and women trying to get publicity for it 30 years after the fact.
I was a “me too” when a family member exposed himself to me. I was a “me too” when my “no” was ignored. I was NOT a “me too” when a customer commented on my cleavage, when I was whistled at, when a boss squeezed my shoulder commending me on a good job. I was not even a “me too” when my butt was patted by a man and I scolded him and shook my finger at him and he never did THAT again.
Madeline M., Arlington Heights, Illinois
No. Just because historically “we” have separated the man and his art does not mean that we must keep doing it the same way. We are a capitalist society, and we vote with our dollars. Money talks. No system of justice is perfect.
Wilson Henley, Montréal, Quebec
Yes, it has gone too far. To expect artists to act like saints is to expect dogs to act like cats — that’s impossible. They will not be a great artist if they become a saint. Creativity and imagination are dirty; they are not clean. Don’t expect your creative genius not to be impulsive, inconsequent, childish or even diabolical. They will need these qualities if you want to continue enjoying great movies, great drawings, great poems, etc. Don’t get me wrong; criminal acts have to be punished! But also, the man himself has to be understood. If we can understand his sexuality, his madness, we can better understand his creations — the vision of the world he is trying to communicate to us.
Becky Mitchell, Spokane, Washington
No! Absolutely not! It hasn’t gone far enough or long enough!! This sexual harassment, these sexual assaults, this sexual intimidation has been going on for decades in every avenue from husbands fondling the babysitter all the way through to top-ranking CEOs. Regardless of who the men are that cross safe, common-sense boundaries, we are all equals at the moment of victimization. Even if you don’t know someone’s story, we need to continue to stand up and stand together for ourselves, for each other and for the women suffering in silence!
I guess I’ll just have to wear dark glasses and not say a word … And I will be very tempted to call out ANY woman looking provocative as offensive … I worry more about the new proper behavior being adults acting like middle schoolers.
Cynthia Dugan-Terrell, Orange County, California
Some of what is being reported sounds horrific; other accounts of misbehavior seem benign to me … he put his hand on your waist as you took photographs? He squeezed your shoulder and you said nothing? Hmmm. I remember some women who waltzed into those offices and came out with promotions. Are there women who played the game and benefited but are now saying #MeToo? Women do have some role in this “dance” of power, as do the rest of us who said nothing.
The way we have treated the accused men sounds like trials from a bygone era. It appears that to be accused means to be guilty, no matter how slight the infraction. Hoping soon the pendulum will settle in the right place and both women and men can work in safe environments.
Ed Baltrao, São Paolo, Brazil
Each country handles sexual advances/harassment/flirting differently. Compared to the United States, it is a lighter thing in the other Americas as well as in Europe. In the U.S., the movement almost seems to be a rage against men. The downside is that the U.S. exports and imposes its culture and values through its media power.
Dr. Kathryn Hayward, New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s not surprising that so much of this has been made public. What’s surprising is it’s taken so long. What would be best is intelligent, informed discussion about the social, sociological, psychological, cultural and other factors that have literally paved the way for this, such as “boys will be boys,” “men got their needs,” “women who like sex are sluts,” etc. There’s significant scholarly work on these and related subjects so there should be no paucity of ideas about how this happens — and what to do to stop it.
Duane Tucker, Palm Springs, California
Punishing artists like Charlie Rose or Garrison Keillor by taking them off the air punishes the culture by depriving it of two of its greatest resources. It punishes us. When athletes step out of line, they’re slapped with suspensions or costly fines. Why can’t we do the same with artists? If this phenomenon held sway historically, our museums and libraries would be virtually empty.
But since, as I suspect, many of the offenders suffer from sex addiction, punishment isn’t going to work … Statistics prove that treatment is the most effective road to lasting freedom from any addiction.