Thursday, January 25, 2018

#TimesUp is not a witch-hunt, it is an attempt to right wrongs

The sheer numbers of allegations of sexual impropriety and harassment in these days of #MeToo and #TimesUp is quite staggering.
Today's newspaper alone reports on:
And that's just one day's news in one Canadian newspaper!
Now, my wife says this is "ludicrous", and that "there can't possibly be that many guilty people". But it seems clear to me that there can be that many guilty people, and indeed many more. This is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg. I can easily see many more politicians, judges, doctors, sports coaches and others falling before this plays itself out, as well as more in the entertainment industry (and in any other sphere where men have traditionally held power over women). And it will still be just a tiny minority of men in positions of power.
Is this a witch-hunt, then? Well, depending on your definition of a witch-hunt, possibly. But, by most definitions, no. It is not a concerted campign being waged by a particular state or organization on ideological grounds, and neither is it extra-judicial - the allegations are being tried in courts of law.
Yes, some allegations are years, even decades, old, but many are not. And yes, the allegations have snowballed, but that is because the affected women see that this is a moment in time when such allegations will be taken seriously, a time when they can look for some closure and restitution without having to sacrifice their dreams and their livelihoods. Often, rumours have swirled around these men for years, but is only now that they are seeing the cruel light of day, now that times and attitudes have changed sufficiently. For the first time in decades, women are feeling empowered; this is not a bad thing. So, if you need a metaphor, this is not so much a snowball as the opening of floodgates.
Several of the women I have spoken to about it all (including my wife) seem to think that men are somehow being treated unfairly, that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Me, I don't see that. Men have had it their way for centuries, and women have suffered the consequences. Maybe it's about time they experienced a bit of unfairness for a time, (although I don't think that what we are seeing is actually unfairness), so that we can better establish some sort of balance or equilibrium.
I have also heard from certain strong women (like my wife and some of her friends of a certain age) that sexual harassment was always a factor in their professional lives, but they learned to deal with it. But this misses the point by a long chalk - the point is, they shouldn't have HAD to deal with it or to make excuses for poor behaviour. More than anything, this is an opportunity to establish new rules and norms going forward. If not now, when?

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