MeToo Movement: the History and what it’s doing

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Women’s movements throughout history have influenced social change, including laws. Rights for women have come a long way since the beginning of the formation of The United States of America. Although this may be true, the #MeToo movement has revealed the injustice within the court system. As well as society as whole, on the basis of sexual harassment, equality in the workplace, and sexual attitudes. The movement also deems a question, has the movement gone too far or not far enough?

Pre #MeToo, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the first women to come to be apart of the United State’s Supreme Court, had fought for gender equality for both in the workplace and home life. One of Ginsburg’s cases was based around the administration of an estate of a deceased relative. The mother, Sally Reed, of the deceased had filed for a petition before her ex-husband, Cecil Reed. Cecil’s application was approved just because he was male. This was due to Idaho’s law in which “males must be preferred to females”. Ginsburg had argued that Idaho’s statute had violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Equal Protection Clause is apart of the XIV Amendment of the Bill of Rights. This case had violated the, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” part of the amendment. In another case, Ginsburg had argued that gender-based discrimination also hurts men. Ginsburg questioned the court, “Why, did the framers of the 14th Amendment regard racial [discrimination] as odious? Because a person’s skin color bears no necessary relationship to ability. Similarly…a person’s sex bears no necessary relationship to ability.” The court had recognized Ginsburg’s claim and enforced a much stricter standards of judicial review when it comes to laws that used sex as a category. Both of these cases shows the gender bias in society pre #MeToo and how Ginsburg fought for gender equality as opposed to one gender.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the foundation for federal sexual harassment laws. In this act, it made sexual harassment within the workplace illegal. Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 expanded sexual harassment laws and also outlaws sex discrimination within schools, primarily federally funded ones. In 1978, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was updated to include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, PDA. The PDA act impedes sex discrimination on the “basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” This act also had defined sexual harassment as a type of sex discrimination. Court cases that dealt with the breach of Title VII started to appear in the 1970s. The first case that could be deemed as a sexual harassment case is Barnes v. Train. In this case a female worker had been fired from her job because she refused her boss’s sexual advances. Only, the court did not deem this case as a form of discrimination in the workplace. The case of Williams v. Saxbe another female, who was harassed on multiple occasions after a sexual advance from her boss, had also been fired. This case introduced another form of gender-based discrimination, quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid pro quo is harassment in the workplace, this is when a worker has to comply to sexual advances as part of their job. This is the progress made pre the #MeToo movement and the beginning of some acknowledgement of sexual harassment and the steps towards improving discrimination laws.

Before the Kavanaugh hearings, there was a closely related set of hearings called the Anita Hill Hearings. Hill had accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment that occurred at their places of work, in the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hill was asked graphicly detailed questions about what had occurred by a Senate Judiciary Committee composed of all white men. This was unfair to have an African-American woman be questioned by a group entirely made of white males, thus inspiring women to run for office. Hill had no intention of getting so much attention when she brought this case to the attention of the court. She said, “I don’t like all of the attention that I’m getting. I don’t — I would not — even if I liked the attention, I would not lie to get attention.” In Thomas’s portion of the hearings he said, “From my standpoint as a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you.” Thomas shows some passive aggression in his words. The reason this case was brought to the attention of the court, was because of background checks so that Thomas could become Judge Thomas. The end result of the Anita Hill Hearing, is a certain Judge Thomas getting just barely confirmed with a vote of 52-48.

Women in society, then and now, are unable to define or deem what is considered sexual harassment. A question came up in a poll, “What constitutes sexual harassment ranged “inappropriate touch” and “demanding sexual favors” to “unwanted attention,” “invitations,” or “anything that makes someone uncomfortable.” The general answer to this was a simple, “I don’t know.” Now, in the wake of #MeToo and the few years leading up to it, people have a better understanding of what sexual harassment is. That being, sexual acts, physical and/or verbal and indecent exposure. This is thinly related to that of sexual assault, where a person forces themselves upon another with physical or verbal force. Defining what sexual harassment is, is the first step to women speaking out and taking action.

The country is divided on if #MeToo has gone to far or if the movement has still so much more to do before it halts it’s sweep across the globe. Out of Americans who were surveyed on this idea, 69% had believed the movement created a climate where offenders are held accountable. The other 40% agreed that the movement has indeed gone too far. Those who were apart of the 40% that agreed, a follow-up with some of those respondents gave their reasons. Many backing up their choice with the fact that accusations like that of sexual harassment can ruin the possible offender’s life. A Nate Jurewicz agreed with those who believed the #MeToo movement had gone too far, “We have females that make false allegations and jumping on the ‘me too’ bandwagon, and it’s ruined lots of guys’ lives.” Jurewicz had started the #HimToo movement to mock the #MeToo movement. Thus, begins the left and right skew of those who support the #MeToo movement and now the opposing #HimToo movement.

The #HimToo movement became popular among those who believed mean, like Brett Kavanaugh, are victims of false accusations. A mother had claimed that her son wouldn’t go on solo dates because of the atmosphere of false accusations by feminists. That mother had tweeted #HimToo with the initial tweet. Her son, Pieter Hanson, had replied to the tweet in support of women and against #HimToo. Activists of #HimToo used the hashtag to relate to various things such as politics, stories of assault and to point out male victims of sexual assault and abuse. In contrast, #MeToo activists used the hashtag to address bad behaviors of men and hold them accountable for their actions. The recent Kavanaugh hearings popularized the #HimToo movement. People who believed Kavanaugh was wrongfully accused of sexual assault used the #HimToo to call to attention bigger issues, like crimes not committed by men. A Joe Chadwick had used this popularized hashtag to address the need for fairness during sexual assault hearings. Women spoke about the #HimToo movement and what the movement was getting at. Kaitlin Bennet and Kimberly Meyer put the blame on the women. Bennet had said, “#MeToo gave way to allow women to come out and make false claims. This stuff does ruin people’s lives. I think the #HimToo is reminding people that while women have been so propped up in media and that’s important we also can forget about the men who are falsely accused.” Bennet is saying that women can make false claims and still be believed. This touches upon due process, both sides need to be heard before the court comes to a decision. Meyers had said, “Sometimes the women are aggressors. They go into situations with powerful men and they’re the ones instigating the problem; they’ll intentionally dress sexual, it’s men’s turn to speak up.” Meyers is saying that women dress provocatively and therefore create the issue of assault and harassment. Another woman who spoke neutrally on the topic, Nicole Torres, said, “I abhor women who would use false allegations against a man, and it is valid, and it does happen, but #HimToo is trying to dismiss #MeToo. They will do anything to dismiss the female voice.” Torres recognizes that false accusations do occur and it’s legitimate that men want to protect themselves. On the other hand, the #HimToo is dismissing both the movement and the voices of women.

The #MeToo movement becomes center stage because of the downfall of powerful figures with allegations of sexual misconduct in the Kavanaugh Hearings in 2018. Cultural movements that occurred during this time gave and is still giving those who were victim to sexual assault a more heightened platform to speak out. Brett Kavanaugh was recently sworn into the Supreme Court, but before that could happen background checks were done. A Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stepped up and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two of them were in high school. Ford told the court what happened to her at a high school party, “I was pushed into a bedroom and was locked in the room and pushed onto a bed. Two boys were in the room. Brett laid on top of me and tried to remove my clothes while groping me. He held me down and put his hand on my mouth to stop me from screaming for help.” Ford is very clearly trying to remain calm as she is forced to relive the events that affected her life, in the video of her portion of the hearings. In Kavanaugh’s portion of the hearings he speaks in a way that makes him look innocent, he said, “Your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.” This is a complete denial of the assault accusation.

The #MeToo movement and women’s movements in the past has taken women’s rights far, but there is still much much to do to fix court systems, workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, and sexual harassment. It’s clear that court systems still have the flaws, based on the Anita Hill Hearings and the Kavanaugh Hearings. Workplace discrimination has been dumbed down, but sex discrimination still exists in the workplace still. Sexual harassment still occurs and will continue to occur, because the world isn’t perfect. The #MeToo movement may have taken societal change far, but #MeToo hasn’t fixed everything that women go through still.

Bibliography

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MeToo Movement: The History and What It's Doing. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/metoo-movement-the-history-and-what-its-doing/

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