Senior Rachael Reynolds said jour­nalist Heather Mac Donald mis­rep­re­sented the #MeToo movement | Pixabay

When I read an email solic­iting me to come “hear one of America’s best inves­tigative reporters” speak on the dangers of the #metoo movement, I was startled. What could Heather Mac Donald pos­sibly say that would trump empow­ering women standing up for them­selves? As I lis­tened to her lecture, it became increas­ingly clear that she couldn’t. Her inves­tigative reporting couldn’t even cor­rectly identify the purpose of the #metoo movement. 

Mac Donald talked about the con­cepts of gender and racial inequity in the work­place. She claimed that diversity is pri­or­i­tized over talent, that academia started identity pol­itics, and “cul­turally ignorant phil­an­thropists” like Bill Gates should just stay away. After stating that fem­inism inhibits the search for sci­en­tific truth, she claimed that “diver­s­i­crats” would ruin the standard of qual­i­fi­cation in this country. 

Are you con­fused what any of this has to do with the #metoo movement? Me too.

The #metoo movement’s website says: “By bringing vital con­ver­sa­tions about sexual vio­lence into the main­stream, we’re helping to de-stig­matize sur­vivors by high­lighting the breadth and impact sexual vio­lence has.” 

The #metoo movement empowers women to stand up against sexual assault, pre­dation, and harassment. It encourages women to value their right to consent or not to consent — to choose with whom they share themselves. 

Twenty-five minutes into Mac Donald’s remarks, she finally addressed sexual pre­dation. Claims such as “fem­inism dis­solves the civ­i­liza­tional restraint on male libido” and “fem­inism ridicules the manly virtues of gen­tlemen chivalry and the fem­inine virtues of modesty and pru­dence” were chau­vin­is­ti­cally thrown while awaiting applause. 

She said the vic­ti­mology set forth by the movement resembled the so-called fads of being a woman, racial minority, gay indi­vidual, or trans­gender person. She called them “frenzies,” later saying that the next new fad of identity crisis would out­shadow this one. Mac Donald called these “fads” child abuse that destroy the inno­cence of our youth. She con­tinued to veer away from the topic of her lecture, simply naming social issues to gain support. 

Mac Donald’s lack of tact was dis­re­spectful to her own gender. Fol­lowing a comment from an audience member that sug­gested women who wear inap­pro­priate bathing suits (bikinis) share the fault with the male coun­terpart should they be raped, she said, “What you just did would be referred to as slut shaming.” 

“Good for you,” she con­tinued, “because sluts should be shamed as far as I am concerned.” 

She made other com­ments such as, “The kinds of char­ac­ter­istics that can get you stoned to death in other parts of the world are now cel­e­brated on American college campuses.”

She used past cul­tural norms to condone male predatory behavior. She made the argument that sex is ambiguous in our gen­er­ation, stating that the default for pre-marital sex used to be “no” but has as of late became “yes,” giving males reason to assume that it would be acceptable to pressure a female into sex.

Mac Donald dis­re­spected men by implying that they’re no better than animals that lack the ability to choose. She dehu­manized them and con­ve­niently forgot their rational capac­ities in implying that is impos­sible to make a decision. She added that this is true every­where but Hillsdale. This is simply untrue.

Let’s make one thing clear: sexual assault, pre­dation, and harassment have absolutely nothing to do with identity pol­itics. It is an issue that has affected women all over this country and all over this campus. It is an issue that needs to be dis­cussed and brought to the attention of all members of Hillsdale College.

The issue of sexual assault hits home for me per­sonally. I have only shared my story with a few close friends. If I, an out­spoken fem­inist, could not muster up the courage to stand up for myself, it sickens me to know how many others that we are sur­rounded by everyday also hide their trauma.

The goal of the #metoo movement is to empower those who are victims to speak the truth. They are not ruining the life of their assaulter. The per­pe­trator accom­plished that on their own. Actions have con­se­quences and it’s time they are held accountable. 

Heather Mac Donald, please know that while I am sure your intention is not to oppress the voice of women, the rhetoric you chose to share on our campus was appalling. I am sure you have con­vinced yourself that work­place dis­tri­b­ution is the arch nemesis of fem­inism. These issues do not lay their fault on fem­inism or the #metoo movement. I assure you, sexual assault and pre­dation exist every­where. Please do your part as a woman and as a human being in stopping these senseless acts on others. 

To all women on this campus, from stu­dents to faculty, please know that no matter how many try to silence you, you will always have a voice. Let it be heard. Stand up for yourself, stand up for those you love, and don’t ever be afraid to say “me too.”

Rachael Reynolds is a senior studying art.