First, a disclaimer. Without a doubt, the #metoo movement has been a critically important development. It’s disturbing to discover how rampant misogyny is, and apparently associated closely with powerful people. While these attitudes have always been wrong, their exposure is better late than never.
But I see that a strange dichotomy exists in this climate. On the one hand, victims are expressing how they have been exploited on account of their gender by powerful men. These victims have often been limited in personal and career advancement to the degree that they’ve been unwilling to forfeit their dignity. For others, the price of admission was their soul. The outrage is justified in the face of this flagrant debasement.
On the other hand, in music videos I frequently notice female artists degrading themselves. Of course I say this at the risk of upsetting the censorship police. But why should a respectable woman writhe in front of a camera with a soundtrack? Videos are made for public consumption so why would a female artist grope herself for thousands or millions of strangers to watch? It appears to me to be completely gratuitous. Can twerking and self-fondling result in anything but the objectification of oneself? To present oneself as the object of someone else’s pleasure is at the heart of misogyny. Is this gender-repressive monster something that should be fed? What does such behavior say to the #metoo women?
This sickness infects the human race. Collectively. The human race includes all of us, male or female. Misogyny affects us together, and we can only be better:together. In one way or another we all have a role to play in turning the tide. In this dichotomy, I see the 2 positions as mutually exclusive. You cannot both abhor the condition and also feed into it.
Let’s look at it this way. There’s a couple, Max and Amy. Amy is overweight and wants to be healthier. Max fully supports the idea and verbally encourages Amy in the plan she undertakes. Part of the plan involves eliminating sweets from her diet. And she does. But Max continues to buy sweets and eat them in front of her. In fact, he even offers her some. He says it would be rude otherwise. Amy gets angry and questions the sincerity of his claims of support.
What do you think? Does Max have a role to play? Isn’t this Amy’s problem? Max should be able to do what he wants, shouldn’t he? Or, as a couple, perhaps he shouldn’t. Maybe, in the interest of helping Amy achieve her goals Max should participate. Maybe he has an obligation to be part of the solution.
To go on pretending that gratuitously provocative behaviour in the guise of self-expression is acceptable while condemning the patronage of that same behaviour is disingenuous. This is not about blaming the victim. To advocate for the #metoo movement and its objectives means desisting from actions that explicitly or implicitly empower misogyny. Like Max and Amy, success demands commitment from both.
Harvey Weinstein et al, your behaviour is despicable. Cardi B et al, your behaviour is unacceptable. Let’s acknowledge the schizophrenic posturing; let’s call a spade a spade. And whatever the gender, let’s be united in defeating a monster.