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.