Somehow, in the wake of the #metoo analysis, we’ve lost the plot.
Instead of celebrating a movement that is making workplaces safer for women, classrooms better learning environments for girls and public spaces more accessible to all genders, we’re focusing on, strangely enough, men.
We live in a world that revolves around men and the male experience. Every time we, as women, snatch just a bit of space to talk about the issues that disproportionately affect us, we’re derailed into talking about how these conversations affect men.
Want to talk about sex and consent? Better think about how to do that in a way that validates the feelings of fear and “oppression” in young men.
Want to talk about access to public spaces at night? Don’t you dare blame men for the fear women experience in those spaces.
Oh, you want to talk about the f-word (feminism)? Don’t sound so angry, because men will never listen.
The #metoo movement isn’t about men and it certainly isn’t about their feelings.
It’s about what women have experienced. It’s shining a light on the way we continue to justify bad behaviour by men with “boys will be boys” or “not all men rape,” or even, “#notallmen show their penises to women they work with.” Men should, and must – and can – behave better.
The #metoo moment is real.
Men have really taken advantage of their positions of power to harass, assault and sexualize young women. No, it isn’t harmless flirting that’s being called out (women know when flirting crosses a line). We’re calling out systemic sexualization that dehumanizes us. Calling it out makes this world a better place — for all genders.
Don’t believe us? Let’s talk facts.
Fact: One in three women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. Fact: Women are 11 times more likely to experience sexual assault than men (with trans women, women of colour and Indigenous women at even higher risk). Fact: Only six to 10 per cent of sexual assaults are reported to police. Fact: Only two to eight per cent of police-reported sexual assaults are false reports.
These numbers are comparable with other false reporting of crimes, like auto theft. Quite frankly, there are far easier ways to ruin someone’s life than risking being publicly shamed as a liar, a slut, a gold-digger, or even risk receiving death threats (as in the case of the woman who accused Kent Hehr of misogynistic behaviour, or Carla Ciccone’s, when she wrote – without naming him – of a bad date with Jian Ghomeshi).
This brings us to the hand-wringing about due process.
“Due Process” is a right enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that prevents the state from depriving those accused of a crime from their legal right to defend themselves through fair representation. Due process has nothing to do with a man who had been investigated by a reputable news organization through fact-checking and corroboration, about behaviours that would cause him to lose the ability to perform his duties.
And when it comes to due process for survivors of sexual assault, statistics show that for every 1,000 sexual assaults in Canada, of the about 33 that are reported to the police, only three will end in a conviction.
The men who have fallen from grace due to #metoo have lost their jobs, but their lives are unlikely to be “ruined.” As Woody Allen has demonstrated with each movie that bears his name, men accused of sexual misconduct rarely suffer like their victims.
We are done responding to the criticism of #metoo. From now on, we want to talk about solutions to an epidemic of sexual misconduct by men in powerful positions.
Bailey Reid, Erica Ifill and Erin Gee are the creators of the Bad+Bitchy Podcast. Twitter: @badandbitchy