Is #MeToo out of con­trol?


‘Iwas wor­ried about writ­ing this col­umn, be­cause I was scared to say I didn’t want to join in or con­trib­ute to the #MeToo cam­paign, the on­line fo­rum where women share sto­ries of their ex­pe­ri­ences of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, as­sault or at­tacks.

Don’t get me wrong – of course I’m in favour of women brave enough to speak out about sex­ual as­saults, such as the al­leged rapes com­mit­ted by movie pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein. In fact, I hope this fo­rum helps them. But lines are be­com­ing blurred. We’re at risk of los­ing per­spec­tive on very se­ri­ous is­sues.

Rape is wrong. Power should not be abused, and women should never feel in­ti­mated in the work­place. BUT, as jour­nal­ist Ju­lia Hart­ley-Brewer, 49, said when she heard that gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Sir Michael Fal­lon has ap­par­ently re­signed af­ter ad­mit­ting to touch­ing her knee, “Both my knees are still in­tact. Get a grip, peo­ple.”

Ju­lia went on to say that it was “ab­surd and wrong to treat work­place ban­ter and flirt­ing – and even mis­judged sex­ual over­tures – be­tween con­sent­ing adults as equiv­a­lent to se­ri­ous sex­ual ha­rass­ment or as­sault”.

She added, “I don’t think a man putting his hand on a woman’s knee 15 years ago should be a front-page story. I think we are in the mid­dle of a witch-hunt.”

I know there will be women out there say­ing it’s never OK to brush off leer­ing, and why do older women like me and Ju­lia tend to laugh off this sort of be­hav­iour? We don’t. We just tell those con­cerned to p*** off.

By ex­ag­ger­at­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of in­ci­dents like knee-touch­ing, aren’t real crimes – rape and preda­tory sex­ual of­fences – in dan­ger of be­ing de­meaned and de­val­ued?’


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