[February 2018] #MeToo movement lacks second side of the story


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Izzy Blansfield ’18

Since the sexual allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement has taken the country and the world by storm, flooding the media as people share their experiences of being sexually assaulted and harassed.

Since Weinstein was exposed, 116 public figures have been accused of sexual misconduct, according to Time magazine. For many of those accused, they are either facing criminal or civil charges, or at least, the consequences of damaged reputations, including job loss.

However, many of those that have been accused have protested that the allegations posed against them are false and as a result are being faced with undeserving consequences. By acknowledging the possibility of innocence, I believe that the media’s role in the #MeToo movement has stripped men of their rights to a fair trial and unfairly displayed one side of the story.

But don’t get me wrong, I believe the #MeToo movement has finally given guilty men what they deserve, allowed women to find their voice and made it clear that sexual violence will not be tolerated in our society. Because of this, I stand with the #MeToo movement.

However, there are differing points of view and changing cultural influences that complicate the movement. Which is why the legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve has come to the defense not of the victims, but of the accused in a letter in the newspaper Le Monde.

Deneuve made the point that, “the #MeToo movement has led to a campaign of public accusations that have placed undeserving people in the same category as sex offenders […] While the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee [or] trying to steal a kiss.”

While I wouldn’t go as far as to call the movement a “witch hunt” as Deneuve did in her letter, I think it is important to consider her point and realize the impact that the media has on the influence of the movement.

Because of the media, people are now capable of making accusations that threaten others’ careers and lives. This could result in innocent lives seriously jeopardized, just by the weight of the accusation.

Jeremy Piven, an American actor who has been accused of sexual abuse and claims the assertions to be false, discussed the media’s role in the movement. Piven made the point that “allegations are being printed as facts” and “lives are being put in jeopardy without a hearing, due process or evidence,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

This was demonstrated within the controversy of the allegations against American actor, Aziz Ansari.

After going on a date with a woman, Ansari was notified that the women felt violated. Ansari claims he was surprised and concerned as he believed the encounter to be consensual and apologized after he was notified.

The women’s accusation on Ansari has raised dispute as many readers concluded that the encounter was an instance of bad sex during a date gone awry, according to Time.com. And as a result, Ansari has been “in a professional sense, assassinated on the basis of one woman’s anonymous account,” according to the Atlantic.

BBC.com brings up the point that women have said that the issue has “been so unfair for so long that if a few innocent men get wrongfully accused, that’s a price they are happy to pay.”

I disagree with this stance. No innocent man or woman deserves to be accused of something they did not do, and as a result lose their reputations, their jobs and their respect.

Even though there are many cases where men haven’t just touched a woman’s knee, it is important for people to acknowledge that an accusation presents only one side to a story, and to give the benefit of the doubt until the accused are proven guilty as charged.

 

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