When it broke onto the scene, and all over Harvey Weinstein, I didn’t think it had legs to keep going. Eric Turkewitz told me I was wrong when I dismissed the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Turk was right.
In my naïveté, I thought people would be smart enough, mature enough, to recognize that every slight from their past could not be vindicated by mob-shaming. They would grasp that there would be serious cries, and cries so silly and trivial that no one could possibly not laugh.
They would realize that no matter where along the spectrum the tears fell, they could not reinvent history with some hysterical adjectives and lash out. What happened during the Sexual Revolution, that came to a crashing end when AIDS struck the world, obviously couldn’t be judged by today’s puritanical standards. Not even the most passionate kid today could fail to grasp the difference, the shift in norms and goals. No one could be that stupid.
And then there would be liars and crazies taking the moment to exact vengeance or just bask in the glory of victimhood. Men lie. Women lie. People lie. That’s why we require facts before concluding an offense was committed.
I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.
When they failed to gain traction by lawfare, because it required facts rather than tears, the feminists behind the #MeToo movement shifted their tactics to social media, where there were no rules of evidence, no burdens of proof, and people who preferred to gush rather than prove. It worked. With only the incentive of “likes” and tummy rubs, they told their tales and proved them by excuses. The weak rallied around each other with the promise of hegemony in sight. If they stuck together no matter what, they could beat other women’s boys and delight as if it was that guy who hurt their feelings.
Enter the next phase of the inquisition.
As we near the one-year mark of the public accusations against Harvey Weinstein—that he serially assaulted women; that he used his power to avoid any consequences for doing so—and the subsequent spread of the nationwide #MeToo movement, we are also facing its backlash. The initial ramifications were widespread and stunning: For the first time in history, it became, ostensibly, the mainstream inclination to believe the victims’ stories about sexual assault and harassment.
The next part of the scheme is expanding beyond putative offenses, rape or sexual assault as it’s been redefined by removing all semblance of meaning, into the “gray areas” of admittedly lawful conduct by men that nonetheless isn’t the way some women want men to behave.
Yet #MeToo’s next direction is toward a deeper look at some of the most common and harder-to-define experiences. It’s looking toward a more equitable world in which women and other marginalized genders can live less fearfully, by digging deeper into the gray areas and educating all of us about the harm they perpetuate.
What are they talking about? Definitions are for kids, and undermine the core purpose of this scheme. After all, without definitions, wrong is whatever they say is wrong. Wrongs are defined only by claims of pain and fear. Throw in a few adjectives and a bad date becomes trauma for life.
The gray area is really important to talk about because so many of us live in the gray area. People talk a lot about how men are confused about consent and they don’t know if they should touch this or touch that, or ask.
But I also think there are issues around consent for women as well because we’ve been socialized to believe that we have to give in to the whims of men. That you have to well, OK, he asked three times, he asked four times, I gave in on the fifth time. And I’m not saying that giving in is automatically sexual assault, but it definitely is a gray area.
If this strikes you as utterly worthless rhetoric, that’s because you don’t get it. Only by Jezebel logic can women simultaneously be strong, be fierce, yet be so weak that they can’t withstand the emotional coercion of a guy asking for sex. Have they been “socialized”? Even so, are they not capable of overcoming this facile excuse? If you don’t want sex, don’t say yes. But these strong women apparently can’t manage that. Strong isn’t what it used to be.
It was bad enough when the slide from scrutinized claims of rape, proven by competent evidence with the accused being given the opportunity to confront his accuser, challenge the claims, was lost to the mob of sad tears. But at least the allegations were, for the most part (see Aziz Ansari), about conduct that rose to a level of relative impropriety. Yeah, this is a gross overstatement, as enthusiastic consent at the time morphed into regret the next day, but that’s another flagrant fault with the narrative. Now, it’s down to “he negged me, so I was raped by feeling that I had to have sex with him or I feared he would break up with me.”
What did he do? No one is likely to know, as there’s no expectation for facts when stories need only be wrapped in the women’s emotional adjectives. And that will be good enough for the mob to crush.
Nina is blonde, thin, and stands a little over 5’3”. She told Jezebel that she first matched with Smith on Tinder. She said that their first two dates seemed normal, if intense. “Both times, we did have a connection,” she said, and on their second date, on May 19, they had consensual sex. For a few days after, they didn’t see each other because of conflicting schedules; after Smith was unresponsive to several text messages, Nina said she attempted to end their brief relationship, saying it was clear it was going nowhere. Smith texted later, writing, “I’m surprised you couldn’t sense my interest in you; you’re very sensitive to praise (not a criticism).” Nina responded, “ahh, i’m sorry, maybe a lot of this was in my head!! we texted a lot over the weekend and then the quick fall-off/non-replies to the two times i asked you if you were still into it got me thrown off.” She would later characterize this as Smith’s first attempt to gaslight her, by ignoring her and then making her feel that she had interpreted his lack of response incorrectly.
Jezebel even throws in a screen cap of the text messages, lest anyone doubt “Nina’s” cries of “gaslighting” and hesitate to destroy the shitlord. Ironically, the shitlord in this case is a public uber-ally to the cause.
Jack Smith IV has made a name for himself over the last year and a half as a senior writer and correspondent covering the extremist right for Mic, a website known for its progressive takes on social justice. His 2017 arrest while covering the Standing Rock protests was a key moment that raised his profile, and he has capitalized on it, writing about incels, MRAs, and neo-Nazis; helming videos about racism and xenophobia; tweeting to his nearly 45,000 followers about the next white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and Milo Yiannopolous; and publicly speaking about, and positioning himself as an authority on, issues of misogyny.
This might seem too absurd to be taken seriously, but then, that was my expectation of the ridiculously irresponsible #MeToo mob. And I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.