The #MeToo wave is having its Gloria Allred moment. It’s another example of a much-needed movement going astray.
Allred, one of the most prominent feminist lawyers, and no stranger to cameras and microphones alike, is getting involved with the R. Kelly scandal.
For those unfamiliar with pop culture headlines, R. Kelly’s off-stage behavior is yet another open secret in the entertainment industry. His alleged ties to underage women are many, as are allegations of sexual abuse. In 2008 he was acquitted on child pornography charges. Yet those allegations didn’t seriously threaten his career until recently. It took a docuseries, Lifetime’s six-part “Surviving R. Kelly,” to do just that.
Enter Allred, who raced to the nearest microphone to weigh in on the matter. She spoke to the media Monday about taking on several new clients who claim to have been sexually assaulted by the R&B crooner. That wasn’t enough, though.
Allred evoked the current commander-in-chief while addressing the press, trying to connect President Donald Trump to the troubled singer.
“It seems that Mr. Kelly is taking his playbook from Donald Trump, who threatened to sue the women who came forward during the campaign to speak about his behavior towards them. In fact — although it may be a coincidence — Mr. Kelly was recently confronted by the police at Trump Tower in Chicago, where he was residing.”
You’d think a lawyer might avoid a flimsy “coincidence” charge while defending her clients. Then again, perhaps she knows the media’s anti-Trump frenzy could be stoked by the allegation.
Here’s where the bigger problem emerges. Turning the #MeToo movement into a political cudgel is a terrible decision. Sexual harassment happens on both sides of the ideological aisle. Ignoring its toxic effects on one side while doubling down on the other diminishes the movement’s authenticity, not to mention its cultural gravitas.
Hollywood already went down this path late last year. The industry mobilized against Brett Kavanaugh based on very flimsy evidence. Stars dubbed him a monster of the first order, demanding he had no place on the Supreme Court. Matt Damon played him on “Saturday Night Live” like a drunken, raging buffoon.
Meanwhile, those very same stars stayed mum on serious, credible allegations against rising Democratic star Keith Ellison. More shockingly, they continued to say nothing about sexual abuse allegations against former President Bill Clinton and how his wife, Hillary Clinton, ran to his defense through the years.
Suddenly, the “believe all women” mantra got left out in the rain.
Could something similar happen here with Allred’s involvement in the Kelly scandal? Perhaps. The more #MeToo takes on a partisan edge, the less able it is to root out the real villains in society. Sure, some liberals will score a few cheap points in the process, but the harm to the movement will be profound and long-lasting.