Sometimes change means taking two steps forward and then one step back. With TIME naming “The Silence Breakers” the people of the year for 2017, there was backlash over who got profiled and how the magazine reported its decision. With infighting among women on the side of #MeToo, and calls for Senator Al Franken to reexamine his resignation from the Senate, could there be a backlash brewing?
As with any political movement, there can be some pushback along the way. Watching day after day as your favorite celebrities and multiple politicians are accused of a range of sexual misconduct, from harassment to assault, can be exhausting. In the case of the #MeToo movement, the rumblings of dissent seem to be coming in two different directions — one, from men and others who feel the #MeToo movement is too harsh, and also from disagreements from within the movement itself, undermining the main point of calling out abuse.
In Washington, there have been repeated calls from some Democratic senators that Al Franken reconsider his stepping down from the Senate, arguing he’s being pushed out in an unfair way. As if the eight women who have accused Franken of assault haven’t said anything too damaging to the former comedy writer’s career.
Even newly-elected Doug Jones said that he believes that Washington’s abuse problem isn’t so bad, saying he doesn’t think the president should step down due to the allegations against him by more than 20 women who accuse him of various acts of sexual misconduct, from groping to unwanted kissing.
Just this week, actor Matt Damon found himself in very hot water after he argued that different allegations should not carry the same weight and that, in fact, some of the men accused should be pardoned for bad behavior if it’s not as severe as others.
“I do believe there’s a spectrum of behavior,” the Downsizing star said in an interview with ABC’s Peter Travers. “There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.” Damon also argued that men who do not perpetrate crimes aren’t getting enough recognition.
While the Hollywood star wants to be rewarded for not being an abuser and doing the bare minimum to treat women as equals, those in the center of the movement have started arguing with each other after Rose McGowan came for Meryl Streep in a series of now-deleted tweets.
“Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for [Weinstein], are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in silent protest,” McGowan tweeted on Saturday. “YOUR SILENCE is THE problem,” she wrote. “You’ll accept a fake award and breathlessly [and] affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy.” The actress went on to mock the embattled wife of Harvey Weinstein, Georgina Chapman, adding, “maybe you should all wear Marchesa [Chapman’s haute couture dress company].”
Activist and actress Amber Tamblyn took her friend McGowan to task for the call out, asking McGowan to step back from lobbing insults at other women without knowing their place in the story. She also said that any protest is better than none, and it may be why McGowan deleted her tweets.
Streep also replied publicly to McGowan, as it seems she was unable to speak to the Charmed star directly, telling the Huffington Post, “It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein’s crimes, not in the ’90s when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others.”
“I wasn’t deliberately silent,” Streep clarified. “I didn’t know. I don’t tacitly approve of rape. I didn’t know. I don’t like young women being assaulted. I didn’t know this was happening.” She also asked McGowan to call her so they could discuss the issue.
While it can seem easy to point fingers, or that justice is being served simply by calling out abuse, that’s only the first step. If those hoping to continue on the goal to truth and equality hope to get further, we can’t be bogged down in the fear that the punishment isn’t severe enough, or that we need to attack each other to get to the truth.
Because if we want to ensure that this battle is won, we have to stand together, and not divided — by supporting one another and listening to victims.
Do you see a backlash brewing against #MeToo? Tell us @BritandCo!
(photos by Getty +Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)