#MeToo Movement, a turning point?

Most of us probably noticed the hashtag MeToo circulating on social media.  In the wake of the accusations of sexual assault and harassment of the American film producer Harvey Weinstein, people from all over the world share their experience of sexual harassment with the hashtag MeToo. The recent dismissal of Bart De Pauw at VRT because of unacceptable behaviour may also encourage a debate on the subject in Belgium.

The number of witnesses that the Metoo Movement brings up worldwide is enormous and may show the scope of the problem that our society is faced with. In my opinion, this movement can be a positive turning point for more gender equality and a more equal relationship between positions of power where there is no room for sexual harassment. Therefore we need to face the problem and discuss it, rather than ignore it.

The movement also brings up many negative reactions. Without judging the case of De Pauw, the amount of negative reactions on social media towards ‘the victims’ amazed me.  Women who use the MeToo hashtag or bring out similar stories are often seen as ‘over-sensitive women’.

 Are men no longer allowed to flirt nowadays?

There is a significant group of people who fear that the MeToo Movement will end up in an unnatural forced situation, in which spontaneity and flirtatious behaviour are no longer allowed. Which is definitely not the purpose of the movement and hopefully neither the result. This fear has much do with the ambiguity of the concept of unacceptable behaviour.

What do we understand under unacceptable behaviour?

 It is of course difficult to draw a line. Philosopher Ignaas Devisch gives an optional answer: unacceptable behaviour is considered as every behaviour that the victim experiences as improper.  In that case it is up to the women to communicate about it. As I see it, communication is a key term to be able to draw a clear line for both parties, wherein spontaneity doesn’t have to disappear.

Unfortunately the communication about unacceptable behaviour and sexual harassment gets lost out of fear to be blamed as the victim. Social media occurs as a court. Opinions are shared at all times and people being easy and quickly judged.

A turning point?

The MeToo Movement can therefore only be a turning point for more gender equality if an open communication and an open environment, in which victims of sexual harassment can stand up for themselves without being blamed, is maintained.

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2 gedachten over “#MeToo Movement, a turning point?”

  1. I wrote a blogpost on this topic as well, so it interesting to see your point of view!

    It’s sad that women who were sexually harassed finally have the courage to speak up are still being judge for it. I think is ridiculous that some men are now afraid to flirt because of it. For instance, I had a conversation like this a few months ago with a friend. She works in a restaurant and she told me that she had a discussion with a man about the MeToo movement. He told her that men aren’t allowed to touch women anymore without having a lot of drama around it. And I don’t get why he was saying that to her… I mean it’s about consent. If a woman doesn’t want somebody to touch her she will let you know verbally or non-verbally and men should respect women’s choices. Nobody should be judged because they said no.

    I also found the scandal around Bart De Pauw really nauseating. There were to many people supporting him just because he had a nice character on TV or they couldn’t believe that someone like him would do something like that. Everybody is capable of sexual harassment and it’s not because you’re famous that you can get away with it…

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  2. I find this a really interesting topic!

    I am glad that the topic is finally on the table. This has been neglected for too many years. I totally agree with you that we have to face the problem, because there is indeed one. Sadly, people are tend to justify the issue if it happens close to them, like Bart De Pauw.

    It is also interesting that you write about the well-known defense many men use. I find it quite childish of some men to state that they now can’t touch women anymore. It makes me sad that they don’t understand that women aren’t men’s properties and thus, need to be respected.

    So, to answer on your question if this can be a turning point, I really hope this will be the case. But I am also afraid that, like other issues in the media, people will forget about it. A ‘good’ thing about the issue is that it all leaked in America. This country has a big influence and if they take notes of the situation, I think they will have a positive influence on other countries. So, hopefully, 2018 will be the year the MeToo Movement really did make a change!

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