January has been a huge month for #MeToo, which is both good and bad. It’s good because it brings attention to a lot of disgraceful behaviour; it’s bad because it results in a lot of groupthink from both progressives and conservatives. This groupthink is present in the vast majority of media coverage of #MeToo. However, I read two articles that do an unusual job of seeking some subtlety and nuance: Has #MeToo gone too far, or not far enough? The answer is both by Laura Kipnis and After the #MeToo backlash, an insider’s guide to French feminism by Agnès Poirier.
Earlier this month I responded to this issue with some of my own thoughts in the article, Men, Women and the Chain of Suspicion. In this article I use Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixin’s concept of “the chain of suspicion” (which is an element of a speculative academic discipline called “cosmic sociology” that addresses communication between inter-galactic civilizations) to explore communication between the two sides of the #MeToo debate. I conclude with the statement that “instead of mutual destruction, let’s seek mutuality, and move forward to a more sustainable future for everyone.”
As the month has progressed, articles have gained momentum that discuss the #MeToo “backlash.” I believe this has taken the debate further away from the “truth.” In short, this backlash issue can be reduced to three simple steps:
- Women do indeed experience lots of sexual assault, hence #MeToo
- The #MeToo movement has largely framed white men as a monolithic guilty group
- The “backlash” is more a response to this contestable framing than women’s claims of assault.
In the context of The Five Stages of Masculinity, while Stage 3 might intend to offer a “system critique” of abusive behaviour, from Stage 2 this is experienced as an individual critique (that typically does not tally with the individual’s perception of daily reality). Ironically, the fact that #MeToo advocates do not appear to understand how men feel in response to what they perceive is an individual critique demonstrates the exact lack of empathy typically levelled against men. As long as this empathy gap exists, the #MeToo movement (and, more generally, Stage 3) will not succeed in bringing men to the table in statistically significant numbers.
Of course, now will generally be understood as absolutely the worst time to ask women to think of men’s feelings, but I ask it nonetheless. Stage 3 has two choices: it can either vent anger and perform moral superiority, or it can embark upon a strategy that actually effects change. Stage 3 has been opting for the first choice for about 40 years with debatable success. Opting for the second choice is the transition to Stage 4.
CFP: Gender, Sexuality and the Blockchain
I recently put out a call for papers for an edited collection called Gender, Sexuality and the Blockchain. The majority of attention given to blockchain and cryptocurrencies focuses on technological applications, with less given to the social and cultural aspects. Gender, Sexuality and the Blockchain adds to our understanding of blockchain by exploring how it replicates and extends our current understanding of technology, gender and sexuality. Expressions of interest for contributions from all disciplines are invited to this edited collection on the following themes:
- women’s representation in and feminist responses to blockchain
- masculinities and the blockchain
- LGBTQ representation in and queer responses to blockchain
- heterosexuality and the blockchain.
If you would like to contribute to this book, see here for further information.