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MeToo Movement Has Women 'Frail as Victorian Housewives'

Daphne Merkin has some complaints about the current atmosphere
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2018 11:57 AM CST
Women Being 'Frail as Victorian Housewives' Hurts #MeToo
Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2017.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Daphne Merkin is expecting to see more #MeToo hashtags pop up Sunday as female celebrities attending the Golden Globes sport all-black eveningwear in support of the movement against gender inequality and "inappropriate conduct" in Hollywood. Or should we say "sexual harassment" or "sexual assault"? The conflated, often confusing wording and "lack of distinction regarding what the spectrum of objectionable behavior really is" are just two of the problems Merkin touches on in her op-ed for the New York Times. In her piece, Merkin reveals her hunch that, despite all of the public displays of solidarity for victims and the shaming of those accused, there are "many of us" (including "longstanding feminists") who've "had it with the reflexive and unnuanced sense of outrage that has accompanied this cause from its inception."

Meaning, in her opinion, while there are cases that deserve unmitigated derision—she names Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey—others like Al Franken are murkier, beset by "accusations [that] are scattered, anonymous or, as far as the public knows, very vague and unspecific." Merkin also isn't keen on a return to what she calls the "victimology paradigm," in which some young women seem to have positioned themselves to be "as frail as Victorian housewives." She finds that "especially curious given that a majority of women I know have been in situations in which men have come on to them," she writes. They did not "helplessly acquiesce." Instead, "they have routinely said, 'I'm not interested' or 'Get your hands off me right now.' And they've taken the risk that comes with it." Her piece here. (More MeToo stories.)

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