From the Editor: "What do Georgia, Russia, India, and Japan have in common? It’s “#them too”. The hurricane of “#metoo” [a famous anti-sexual harassment campaign] is moving from the Western world to their region, and they need to prepare...
As #metoo is a trend which has several aspects and reactions, we wanted to share the experience gained over the last year: gains, drawbacks, the various reactions, and mostly, to show that it’s not a “either you are pro or against” issue.
As we mostly got used to hearing the extremists on both sides, we bring you some fresh views and options for looking at the situation.
Following is the story of our young and enthusiastic reporter, trying to find his way in a world where norms are changing while trying to shed some light on some aspects of the men/women relations.
We will share with you a LINK with the list of possible opinions on this, which were prepared for us by experts".
The Harassing Gentlemen
“Always be a gentleman” - this is one of the main lessons my conservative parents, who were raised in a patriarchal society, have always tried to teach me. “Offer her your hand or your chair, make compliments, make a woman feel like a woman,” they told me. For a while, I tried to blindly follow these instructions, and then a strange thing happened - the woman whom I tried to give a light, admitted that she always prefers to do it herself, and then she explained: “I perceive the outstretched lighter as an invasion of my personal space”. Like many people, I suddenly found that I was not gentle at all and my manifestations of “chivalry” could cause discomfort in some women, or even be perceived as an insult.
Let me be clear - I do not declare that ALL cases of harassment are due to old-fashioned views, but one thing is indisputable - norms of behavior, and of communication with the opposite sex, which was followed by our parents and previous generations, have ceased to be relevant at once...
Naturally, millions of people around the world began to wonder...
“Why did it happen?”
It's been a year since the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment, which triggered the #metoo movement, also known as the "Weinstein effect". Since then, the #metoo campaign encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to share their stories via social networks. Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K., Woody Allen, Ben Affleck and many other powerful and influential men found themselves facing criminal charges.
Of course, this matter was not limited to the film industry and the United States, the movement quickly spread to European countries. Such terms as “Rape culture”, “Toxic masculinity”, “White men” have ceased to be the property of researchers and experts and have stepped into popular culture.
In recent months, the movement has been gaining more support in relatively patriarchal and more closed countries, such as Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and India.
While the societies of these countries are trying to grasp the scale of the problem and are adapting to the new reality, we offer a look at the experience of the rest of the world.
In the US, Europe, and some other countries, women who openly talk about the facts of sexual violence and harassment receive wide support from both the establishment and the common people. However, along with support, a wave of criticism also raises and is followed by lots of problems and ethical issues, without concrete, unequivocal answers.
“Why did they remain silent?”
It is the most common question asked by skeptics. This at first glance logical question evokes strong anger among activists for the rights of women.
The victims of sexual harassment explain that they were silenced by shame, fear of condemnation, inability to prove their charges. And #metoo became a source of inspiration for them, it helped them feel that they are not alone.
“Themselves to Blame”
In 2016, even before the general distribution of the #metoo hashtag, an online campaign against sexual violence and harassment took place in Georgia. As part of the campaign, women told their personal stories and encouraged others to follow their example and not to be afraid.
However, the reaction of a significant part of Georgian society was not encouraging. “She should not wear a short dress at night,” “She should not go to the man's house,“ She should not sit in his car ”,“ She should not misbehave”- here’s a short list of charges the victims of sexual harassment have faced.
In order for the investigation to be effective, human rights activists recommend contacting the police within 24 hours after the incident.
Although often the response of the police also does not encourage women to be bolder.
I spoke with Sophie (the name is changed), who was a victim of sexual violence about 6 years ago.
“They treated me like a prostitute. It was terrible. After a rape, you hate yourself and your body. You ask yourself: “Why did they do this to me, maybe I’m really guilty?”, And then this attitude is really unbearable ... They scoffed at me and made scabrous comments during my story. ” - says Sophie.
She also notes that the police did not ask for a proper medical examination, and she did not think to do it in order to have evidence either. According to the girl, the investigation was not conducted properly and the man who raped her is still at large.
According to Sophie, who now works as a women’s rights activist, serious reforms are needed both in legislation and in the minds of officials and ordinary citizens in order for the campaign to succeed.
“The Witch-Hunt” and “The Plague”
Several days ago, to mark the anniversary of #MeToo, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published its preliminary findings to examine the effects of the movement.
According to them: “In the past year, 7,500 harassment complaints filed from October 2017 to September 2018 (12% raise). This is the first time this number has gone up in five years.
The number of lawsuits the EEOC filed increased by 50%.
Successful EEOC-run mediation proceedings went up by 43%.
Visits to the sexual harassment page of the EEOC’s website went up more than 100%.”
However, the term “witch-hunt” appears in the mainstream media more and more often. Some people claim that many accusations lack any evidence, but, nevertheless, they are straightly believed. Thus, it is quite possible to destroy the reputation and career of an innocent person.
For example, several months ago, the Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke has expressed his protests: “ Suspected actors are cut out of movies and TV series in order not to lose [audiences]. Where are we living? In the new Middle Ages?”
In Russia, they went even further: “The Plague” - that’s the name the famous political expert and columnist of the newspaper “Vzglyad”, Dmitriy Drobtnitsky has given to #Metoo movement. In his opinion, the movement is a “well-established technology”, “an ideal weapon of liberals” that could strike enemies, depriving them of the ability to defend themselves. In addition, the author sees in the movement a real threat to the current political system in Russia.
“And do not tell me that in Russia, this will not happen even in a hundred years. Or that reasonable isolationism (yes, even an iron curtain!) will save us from this plague.
The plague is already here. ”
“Am I flirting or am I sexually harassing her?”
Actually, it became a quite popular question nowadays amongst the ones who do not believe in conspiracy theories.
NBC News published a story on how #MeToo changed the way people interact with each other at work. A curious fact - many men say that they have "minimized communication with women.", and that they “don’t want to be left alone in a room with a woman anymore." Also, some men have become more cautious about jokes in the presence of women and rarely make compliments.
However, despite the difficulties, some activists answer this question with one simple word: “CONSENT”
In her interview to “Tabula” magazine, the lawyer and civil rights activist Ana Arganashvili explains: "If this is a bilateral will, of course, harassment is not the case. But if a woman says that it is unacceptable behavior and, despite this, it continues, then yes, we are dealing with harassment. "
There is also another answer. I have already shown it to my parents and they agreed with everything said here. I recommend you do the same. I am far from believing that it will help solve all of our problems and that it’s suitable for people living in countries all over the world, but you have to start somewhere. After all, as the principle of any learning says: "Always start with the simplest subject."