#MeToo Will Only Work if It Tackles the Cause of Sex Abuse
Over the weekend, #MeToo trended on Twitter. The hashtag trend began after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet." According to a New York Times story published on October 16, "Tens of thousands of people replied to the message." My own newsfeed has witnessed scores of tweets and retweets featuring #MeToo. While I empathize with the sentiment, I'm afraid that the trend ignores the actual cause of sexual harassment and abuse. Sin is the cause, not power.
Like everything that identity politics and intersectionality touch, a complex issue has become segregated away from needed voices. Solving problems requires being honest about the problem, and that honesty begins with allowing all participants a voice, regardless of gender.
Yesterday, after noticing the hashtag trend, I composed my own #MeToo tweet but deleted it without publishing. I hit "delete" for two main reasons. First, I didn't want to inadvertently take away from the stories of the women I know. I empathize and agree that sexual harassment and assault are problems that the majority (if not all) of women face. My wife does — from being constantly groped on the DC Metro to having to buy a suit so that men will take her seriously, she is treated as less than because she's a woman by many people. Second, I was afraid I would take away from the stories because I'm aware that my voice is not wanted, regardless of my story, because I'm a man. So, I stayed out of it.
But by God's grace, I have a platform of my own from which to relate my story and offer my thoughts.
I've already written briefly about my experience with harassment and abuse as a theatre actor. Being an actor meant that I also frequently worked in the service industry. My experience observing and receiving sexual harassment and abuse in the theatre world was less than what I saw and received while working in the service industry.
I could probably write an entire book detailing the sexual abuse I witnessed and experienced in the service industry. It was non-stop. Gender was the least important variable, both in the abused and the abuser. Not all managers, but many of them, both male and female, expected sexual favors in return for being put on the schedule for the plum shifts. Being good at your job spared you from being confronted with that trade-off. Almost everyone, male and female, employee and employer, talked about their sexual exploits. And those discussions were usually graphic. What's more, the discussions about desired sexual conquests were discussed in front of and, at times, with the object of the desire.