#MeToo campaign should not lead to a gender war

By Lilly Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/17 20:43:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The #MeToo social media campaign has been making waves around the world with tales of sexual abuse inflaming the cybersphere.

Accusations by Hollywood actresses against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein triggered the campaign and encouraged thousands of women to share their bitter personal stories using the #MeToo hashtag.

It is trending on Facebook and Twitter, one good chance for women to display their bravado to online friends and show one can be as brave as some big names in the entertainment world.

Within a week of the campaign, my Facebook news feed is full of anecdotes of inappropriate sexual incidents. My female Facebook friends tagged men's names in their posts humiliating them in cyberspace. 

The campaign was started with the aim of showing the extent of sexual abuse against women, targeting men who take advantage of their position to harass the opposite sex at the workplace.

However, some of the stories I read don't show men using power to abuse women in the workplace. They are ambiguous tales of sexual intercourse, hard to be judged.

What I see on social media is women venting their rage on men. Without proof, these stories do not give men a chance to defend themselves. If men attempt to show concern or explain, it is met by a vicious response, only to make them shut up.

Indeed, the posts not only humiliate the men, but also their current girlfriends or wives.

As a woman, I agree the campaign is necessary to protest sexual violence. However, it goes a bit too far, and has spiraled out of control.

A few years ago, I was groped by a male friend who touched my leg inappropriately in a drunken state. I stopped him and forgave after he immediately apologized. Recently, he said sorry again perhaps because he was afraid I would hashtag him in the #MeToo Campaign.

In the current climate, some men wouldn't know how to show sincere affection toward women without being labeled a "sexual offender."

I admire French actress Catherine Deneuve and other French women who rip off the mask of "puritanism" and speak out as real women with all the natural needs, in an open letter.

Should we distinguish flirting or innocent praise from sexual harassment? If someone calls you attractive, is it harassment? Women should not make men feel guilty of giving compliments or showing affection, as long as it comes with respect.

I believe any independent and strong woman has the right and ability to say no to unwanted sex. She should be able to take responsibility for her decisions and behavior when there is no violence or actual pressure involved.

Instead of leveling accusations, being angry, or posing as victims for sympathy, it is more important to protest meaningfully.

Compared to other countries, #MeToo has not spread on Chinese social media extensively. However, it has influenced Chinese women, especially young university students.

A Chinese professor, Chen Xiaowu of Beihang University, was fired after former student Luo Xixi shared a story about being sexually harassed by him 13 years ago.

Luo contacted other victims and collected evidence before taking the case to the university and sharing the story online. 

It has been effective than the #MeToo campaign. Her post on Weibo gained more than 3 million views in one day. It reflects her courage and shows Chinese women the way.

Unfortunately, Chinese women are afraid of speaking out and sharing their stories as female victims are inappropriately judged by society. This is changing but developing awareness will take time.

However, it should not be forgotten that several powerful but corrupt officials were exposed and brought down by their mistresses.

The #MeToo movement should not lose focus and digress from its original aim. It needs to provide solutions rather than becoming a channel for venting ire.

The author is a Beijing-based journalist. She lived in Sydney from 2014 to 2016. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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