OPINION: Understanding “#MeToo” after Kavanaugh confirmation


Nicholas Hunter headshot

Nicholas Hunter

We are amid the #MeToo movement, where men are finally being held accountable for abuses of power and sexual assault in their industries. The likes of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken and Louis C.K. have all been forced to reckon with their destructive, manipulative pasts.

We are at a university where student employees must go through Title IX and sexual assault training. Entire initiatives exist to make women feel safe and feel heard on campus.

Three of the four major sports leagues now have female referees. Women are covering NFL games, reporting from the sidelines and hosting sports talk shows on ESPN.

Women are being heard. They are getting their foot in the door of some of the most male-dominated industries. Men are being held accountable for years and years of evil past transgressions.

So, it’s a modern feminist renaissance, right? Not really.

Recently, the confirmation of new Supreme Court member Brett Kavanaugh has been nearly the only thing on TV. Clips of him exclaiming “I like beer” have run so frequently on cable news channels that the actual statement, wherein he demonstrated an inability to keep a level head and clear mind under pressure, has been lost in a series of skits and memes.

Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in their teens, has been washed out of the conversation in place of a funny Matt Damon impersonation on Saturday Night Live.

Her powerful testimony was almost immediately overshadowed by the man she accused, and society didn’t blink at this. Despite being, essentially, put on trial by the Judiciary Committee, forced to recount the events that took place between the two of them, Kavanaugh was the one painted as the victim, and few could help themselves from playing into that narrative.

It is endlessly frustrating to read, time and again, how far we have come in gender equality. We made a woman recount a sexual assault incident to an all-male panel, while we asked the accused to comment on his calendar and berate the committee for making him talk in the first place.

We pat Sen. Jeff Flake on the back for having reservations in confirming him, but offer no more than a resigned shrug when, days later, he is confirmed with party-line votes.

There’s no way, after his confirmation, anyone can take a good look at our current culture and come to the conclusion that the modern feminist movement is a success.

At best, it’s a good marketing campaign.

At worst, it’s a congratulatory pat on the back centered on awareness without action.

Nicholas Hunter is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].