Et Tu, Liam? Why the MeToo campaign is anything but a Witchhunt.

Day 6 of 7 in 7 and until five minutes ago I was going to write a round up of the ups and downs of 2017 (don’t worry if you’re desperate to find out, there’s still tomorrow to go…) But since listening to the news my goat has truly been got and now, this is a truly off the cuff, angry blog post.

Apparently a rich and successful white man has complained that the MeToo campaign has turned into a ‘Bit of Witchhunt’. Yes, Liam Neeson, that’s you.

We won’t lower ourselves by mentioning the school of thought that people who have a reason to worry often go on the attack first. But apparently Woody Allen in your corner, Liam, so that’s the kind of back up you want. (If you’re to young to know what I’m referring to, Google it.)

No doubt due to the stance taken by women at the Golden Globes, the MeToo campaign has had a resurgence of interest. This was followed quickly by Catherine Deneuve’s open letter (also signed by 100 French writers and intellectuals) suggesting that the campaign has gone too far because men are being shamed for flirting.

Personally I don’t understand why people find this so difficult. MeToo is not about sex, it’s about the abuse of power. If you hold someone’s future, health or bank card in your hands, then sexually charged attention is inappropriate. Feel free to play Doms and Subs in the bedroom, as hardcore a fashion as you like, once equal consent has been given.

As for compliments and flirting, let’s desexualise it. Making a comment to someone about them is often a fraught business. For example, I didn’t appreciate it when a school run mum once said to me “Your hair looks nice. But you have so much time on your hands don’t you…?” (At a time when I was spending most of life at the hospital for my husband’s ill health). Can I report her to the MeTo campaign for being a fucking cow?

Whenever you pass comment on another person, whether it’s a compliment, inappropriate sexual innuendo or outright criticism, remember it’s always a judgement. And that judgement will have an effect on the other person that you should take into account. And it may not be the effect you intended, because you’re not inside that person’s head and don’t know their own experiences and idiosyncrasies. Unless it’s a really genuine spontaneous compliment, I’d suggest always erring on the safe side, whether you’re man, woman or bitch of any gender.

Sexual abuse by the privileged (whom history identifies as almost solely white males) has always been institutionalised in many arenas of business and public life. One of the victim groups most consistently persecuted and abused was single women who dared to flout conventions. Living alone, often working as healers and storytellers, their sensitivity meaning they had close relationships with animals, these women fulfilled important functions in rural society. Because they challenged the accepted role of women, they were frequently scapegoats for any problem that might occur (crops failing, virgins fainting etc.) They were often called witches.

Over the past 500 years in Europe alone, more than 200,000 of these women, who I think we can absolutely agree were not creatures of evil magic, were tortured and executed in horrific ways. Let alone the children still being mutilated and murdered in Africa because they are ‘witches’.

Liam, I know you don’t really understand what you said. That you were grasping for a word, in your really quite inarticulate interview, to express how uncomfortable you feel at for once being on the receiving end of privilege imbalance. But please don’t appropriate the bloody history of female persecution. When 200,000 Hollywood dudes have been burned at the stake, THEN you can call it a Witchhunt.

Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash