#MeToo has been referred to as; a watershed moment for future generations, the biggest feminist movement in history, a unique historical moment…whilst society is moulding to be a more equal and liberal place there are always critics and opposers, so yes, there has to be some expectations of a backlash.

Since the #MeToo movement started it has created multiple divides, one between men and women and a sense of fear mongering of the relationships that occur between men and women, be it friends, colleagues or a new relationship. Every action made is looked upon with finer details and questioned against sexual harassment. Secondly, the uprising has  created a generational divide between younger and older women and the way they each have metabolised the movement’s lessons. The divide is predicated on the idea that all women should respond to sexual harassment or misconduct in a unified way which is, of course completely bonkers.

Tarana Burke said the campaign has become ‘unrecognisable’ from what she initially created, and now a year down the line a backlash is on setting. After attracting quite the negative attention the movement has been referred to as a ‘Witch-hunt’ that ‘should be left in the Middle-Ages’, by French actress Catherine Deneuve whom was one of the 100 French women to sign an open letter aimed to debunk the sexual harassment activist movement. The letter published in the newspaper Le Monde was awkwardly written with many errors, an apathetic sting for the women who have been so open about their own experiences in joining the #MeToo movement. Deneuve said the movement that once “began as freeing women up to speak has today turned into the opposite – we intimidate people into speaking ‘correctly’, shout down those who don’t fall into line, and those women who refused to bend [to the new realities] are regarded as complicit and traitors.”. Deneuve argues that the movement has ‘gone too far’ . In defence of the movement and all the women whom have experience sexual harassment Tarana Burke responded with;

“I don’t think that every single case of sexual harassment has to result in someone being fired; the consequences should vary. But we need a shift in culture so that every single instance of sexual harassment is investigated and dealt with. That’s just basic common sense.”

Michele Perrot concludes that “the authors of the letter fear that the #MeToo movement dents creative, artistic and sexual freedom, that a moralist backlash comes and destroys what libertarian thinking has fought hard to obtain, that women’s bodies and sex become again this forbidden territory and that a new moral order introduces a new censorship against the free movement of desire”, and that “There is indeed reason to share their fear.”. The authors of the letter seem to think that what happens to the body doesn’t actually happen to the person. On the contrary the movement protests that control of our bodies is the beginning of the freedom, a freedom that needs to be more than notional, a freedom that needs to be embodied along with the fact that the culture in which we are used to is shifting.

Michele Obama commented on the uprising of a changing society,

there’s been a status quo in the way women have been treated, what their expectations have been in this society and that is changing. And there is going to be a little upheaval; there is going to be a little discomfort. But…it’s up to the women out there to say ‘sorry! Sorry that you feel uncomfortable, but I’m now paving the way for the next generation.”

Image of men and women holding dialogue boxes.

Image from Pexels.com no attribution required.

 

The ongoing narrative of toxic masculinity is often challenged with toxic femininity and we are often shocked with the conversations that are happening now due to the sole fact that these topics effectively have never been so openly discussed. Louise Mazanti talks to David Fuller about the toxic femininity of the #Metoo movement and the way in which it has ‘exposed male shadows but most definitely exposed female shadows’ in a power dispute. Mazanti goes on to explain how women have accrued so much power since the #MeToo movement and using this power ‘quite irresponsibly’. In this cultural change which has resulted in a switch in roles, men are now looked at beneath women and women are seen to be taking the position as the perpetrator and ‘attacking men by playing the victim’. Fuller explains how on a personal level it feels like a ‘castration” that comes from a culture where masculinity has been ‘shamed’ in which he feels the expectations of men is to ‘shut up and listen’ but to internalise that there is something wrong with the man, which can be extremely dangerous for the males of our society. Mazanti questions all values and believes that with the destruction of the patriarchy we have come to a feminisation of society, where the post-modern narrative is now essentially feminine. In order to move forward in our society and avoid the power disputes ‘we have to be inclusive and transcend’ and think in an evolutionary way, to respect that society has been feminised but it is still not right, there is an imbalance. This imbalance should be respected in that there are male values and female values, but we must ‘find the synthesis’ in these difficult conversations and create the balance.

Although these conversations are important and there will always be a critique, nevertheless it is clear that the original concept of the #MeToo movement meant well and definitely needed to happen in order to create a shift of discussion in society. The discussion shows the dynamics and challenging social accepted norms but we now need to see the change in culture and embracing this new wave culture. It is essential that we now create a society where the masculine and feminine can share spaces and work in a dynamic where there is no one sided conversations.