Listening to the Women of the “Me too” Campaign

Amy Swearer is a conservative who works at the Heritage Foundation. In the link below, she recounts how she was the victim of a sexual assault, though the details of her assault are unclear because Swearer was drugged and remembers little of what happened.

She writes in response to the “Me too” campaign that arose from the scandal surrounding the accusations of sexual assault and rape against powerhouse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The point of the “Me too” campaign, as Swearer writes, is to “Shift the focus away from predators and onto the victims.” I’ve read elsewhere that other points of the “Me too” campaign is to let women and men who’ve suffered sexual assault know that they are not alone, and to make clear how prevalent sexual assault is in our culture.

There has been some criticism of the “Me too” campaign, however. Some conservatives on social media have expressed doubts that sexual assault is as prevalent as women claim, some have accused women who’ve shared their stories of exaggeration, and others have dismissed the campaign because it is identified with liberal feminism and/or anti-male attitudes.

Swearer takes on these conservative critics and responds effectively.

Yes, we live in a culture where the status of “victim” possesses a great deal of social cachet, enticing too many to make themselves out to be victims. Yes, there is a tendency among some to conflate various offenses, as if leering was morally equivalent to rape, or complimenting a woman on her hair is tantamount to sexual harassment. Yes, there is an unhealthy and even sexist tendency to identify all men as sexual beasts just waiting for the next opportunity to assault a woman.

But, these facts do nothing to detract from the witness and testimony of women, men, and children who have suffered genuine assault. These people deserve to be heard, and it’s important that we listen. I’m not very optimistic about the culture of Hollywood changing in light of the Harvey Weinstein horror. I think a lot of people will make sure they say something to denounce Weinstein because that’s what’s expected in a culture that puts a lot of value on saying the virtuous thing without acting in a virtuous way.

But, I also know that nothing will be done if silence remains the go-to response to sexual assault. If nothing else, the women and men and children who are speaking out are contributing to the creation of a culture where silence is no longer expected by victims of these crimes.

I know that the culture in the Catholic Church has changed significantly in light of the sexual abuse crisis. Reforms were put in place, the cover-up was exposed, policies were established. I don’t think it’s too far to say that, in many respects, a Catholic institution today is one of the safest places for children.

Those conservatives who regard the “Me too” campaign as guilty because it is associated with anti-male feminism are making their own mistake of conflating the message with the messenger. These victims are real. Their pain is real. Their voices need to be heard.

Swearer says it best:

“There is a time and place to address genuine concerns about the left’s war on manhood, the horrible lack of due process for college students accused of sexual misconduct, and the unfortunate but very true fact that sometimes lives are ruined over false allegations.

“Whatever that time is, and wherever that place may be, it is not when a person is telling you she was a victim of assault. That will never be the right time or place to raise those concerns. When someone confides in you about an event so life-altering and full of heart-rending pain, you do one thing. Only one thing.

“You listen.”

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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