Since the “Me Too” movement has taken hold, it’s received significant coverage as numerous sexual assault claims are brought against various celebrities and influential men. Recently however, some have criticized the movement for transforming into a witch hunt of sorts. The movement’s critics claim that its only objective is to tarnish the reputations of those in the limelight and sensationalize sexual assault.
I resent this idea. The “Me Too” movement is one of empowerment — cultural revelation that signifies a turning point in the treatment and equality of women. This should not be dismissed as hysteria. Some critics feel the movement is embodying female helplessness by reverting to old ideas of sexual violence and women without agency. However, the focus should remain on dismantling a sex culture that urges women to prioritize the desires of men above their own. Don’t allow the fear of destroying the careers of talented men distract us from this.
It is no secret that college campuses foretold the “Me Too” movement. Sexual assault has been pertinent on campuses for years and continues to be a fierce battle for students.
We have seen the prevalence of sexual assault play out most fervently at the University of Minnesota within our athletics department. Reggie Lynch, a basketball player at the University of Minnesota, was recently accused of sexual assault for the third time. Yet Lynch is still practicing with the team, and reaping the benefits of being a Division I athlete at a Big Ten university.
Lynch’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, stated in a news conference covered by KSTP News that what Lynch is facing, as an alleged assaulter, is comparable to the hysteria surrounding the World War II Japanese internment camps. Yes, you read that correctly.
Pacyga believes the fear surrounding sexual misconduct is the equivalent to one of the greatest crimes in U.S. history, which resulted in the mass incarceration of over a hundred thousand people.
This feeble attempt to paint Lynch as a victim should not be indulged. Let me make myself perfectly clear: Reggie Lynch is no victim. In fact, he has been allegedly victimizing women for what seems to be several years, and I refuse to feel sorry now that he is facing the consequences for that.
Three separate women coming forward is not a coincidence or a conspiracy. Don’t allow misguided fears of uncharted territory distract you from the facts. Lynch has been accused by multiple women, throughout multiple years. He determined his own fate. He is not a casualty of the “Me Too” movement, he is a predator.
Many criticisms of “Me Too” also surfaced with the Aziz Ansari story. Critics began speaking about feminists going “too far” after Ansari was accused of sexually assaulting a woman.
Ansari, a comedian and self-proclaimed feminist, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman called “Grace," according to a story on Babe.net. Grace recounted a date she had with Ansari, which she says resulted in assault. Grace claims to have given “verbal and nonverbal cues” to signify her discomfort, which Ansari ignored, in an attempt to continue their sexual encounter.
Because Grace did not get up or leave, and because Ansari doesn’t seem to have physically forced her to continue the encounter, many people don’t consider this an assault. Lucia Brawley, an opinion writer at CNN, urged the public not to destroy careers over “consensual” sex. She goes on to make the distinction that “Ansari is not Harvey Weinstein.”
It’s easy to chalk this story up to bad sex with an awkward and overly excited partner. However, Ansari doesn’t need to be a serial sex offender and world-class predator to be a part of the problem. Sexual assaults are not all the same, and just because this one may seem less violent, or even a little familiar, doesn’t mean we should dismiss it completely.
Feminism has not gone too far. There’s nothing dangerous about striving for empowerment and equality, and it isn’t something that we should apologize for. If we allow the “Me Too” movement to be brushed aside and labeled a feminist frenzy, an uneven gender power structure and rape culture will remain. Don’t dismiss this movement, and don’t put it on hold to ensure that men like Lynch and Ansari can emerge with their reputations intact.