When the #metoo movement began to gather pace, there was a constant refrain from certain sections of society: “but what’s the point of all this?”
The argument was that, as many #metoo experiences didn’t constitute an actual crime, there was little point in a continued focus on the sexual harassment of women. This is, obviously, completely absurd, but it’s still worth setting the record straight by examining four fundamental societal benefits of the #metoo movement.
#1 – Many #metoo stories did involve crimes
From the outset, one of the many ways certain sections of society sort to delegitimize the #metoo movement was by claiming that the abuse documented was actually little more than bad flirting or women being oversensitive.
It is therefore worth noting that while some cases would not be considered criminal, a huge number of #metoo stories were – and the movement encouraged the victims to come forward, call Robenalt and similar services, go to the police, and seek justice. Dismissing #metoo as only focusing on “mild” cases is genuinely damaging, and overlooks the strength that victims have found in finally feeling they can step forward.
#2 – It taught us valuable lessons about the generation gap in feminism
The women of the second-wave of feminism tend to disagree with women of the third wave. This was reflected in the #metoo responses, with prominent second-wavers regularly stating that the third wave were being unnecessarily sensitive.
In many ways, this generation gap isn’t helpful – but there is an unexpected upside: at least we’re aware of it now. Only by knowing that there can be huge discrepancies between what an older woman considers feminism compared to a younger person’s view can the issue actually be addressed.
Ultimately, these differences of opinion need to be considered and taken into an account, with everyone willing to listen to one another, and find a way to figure out future stances that encompass all viewpoints. Now we know there’s an issue, thanks to #metoo, feminism as a whole can seek to unite the generations, and will be strengthened as a result.
#3 – Perpetrators have examined their actions
While some (predominantly male) members of society have sought to dismiss #metoo and defend their previous actions, other men have examined their own actions – and, often, found themselves wanting. While this has led many men to jumping to a defence of their actions, others have sought to redress the balance, to understand what they have done wrong, and how they can seek to improve in the future.
Would this have happened without #metoo? Perhaps, but there is no doubt that the movement helped many men – good people, who always assumed they were doing the right thing – to examine their previous behaviors and assumptions. This kind of self-reflection is incredibly difficult, but is ultimately hugely beneficial to society as a whole.
The #metoo movement became the defining focus of 2017, but its legacy is likely to last far longer than that. By uniting victims, allowing people to come forward, and shining a light on societal issues that otherwise may have been long ignored, #metoo could well prove to be a significant turning point for humanity as a whole.