Illustration by Scarlet

Was The #MeToo Movement Effective? Yes. And Now Men Are Complaining About It

The article on the extremisms of #metoo deceptively cherry picks weak data to paint an inaccurate portrait of the movement, all while ignoring both its effectiveness, and the pervasiveness of sexual harassment on a global scale.

When we, two female Opinion Editors of The Gazelle, saw this article by Nicholas Patas through the stages of production and publication, we were incredulous. We wanted to respond. While it is impossible to say that we are completely objective and without bias, we wrote this piece while taking special care to not perpetuate the gender dichotomy. We understand that to some, writing an article like this seems like we are waging the ol’ battle of the sexes. As some may say, “Here we go again; two women, Michelle and Andrijana, against all odds, ranting in defense of feminism and the #MeToo movement against the big bad man.”
However, this is not the narrative that we are painting in this article. Our aim is to logically refute the original article’s rationale by providing a comprehensive analysis of the study cited, a tiny portion of which Patas cherry picked, followed by discussing its faulty argumentation saturated with sexist commentary.
To begin with, we researched the study by Leanne Atwater, a business Professor at the University of Houston, which Patas cites to support his claim that #MeToo resulted in a “backlash” of men not hiring attractive women. We analyzed the entirety of this study, and found its primary focus to be on how the attitudes of men and women are formed around the perceived consequences of the #MeToo movement. For instance, Atwater states that over half of the participants of the study believed that #MeToo will empower women in the future. Atwater also states how #MeToo helped over seventy percent of women to be more open about sexual assault in the workplace, and educated almost 80 percent of men on the definition of sexual harassment.
Among the numerous statistics in Atwater’s research, only one mentions the “backlash” that Patas asserts is a result of #MeToo. This is the 21 percent of men who answered that they were hesitant to hire attractive women in 2018, a six percent increase compared to 2017. Conveniently, this is also the only statistic that Patas focused on in his article.
The informed reader should also note that while Atwater uses the word “backlash” in her report, her usage of the term is based on a variety of attitudes concerning the negative consequences of the #MeToo movement, primarily the fear of repercussions that victims of sexual harassment have because they are attacking men in power. The study starts with the following quote, “The #MeToo movement can’t last. If history has taught us anything, it is that powerful people never give away their power without a fight. It’s only a matter of time before the backlash hits.”
The quote Atwater cites is from Laura Hudson, a prominent researcher for the media outlet The Verge. Atwater’s point wasn’t to affirm this quote, but refute it. Patas’ definition of negative backlash rested on the statistical significance of six percent, and ignored what the real message behind the study is. This is a classic example of cherry picking. Patas either did not do sufficient research, or intentionally twisted the conclusion of the original research to suit his purposes. He went as far as to contradict the conclusion of the original research, to prove that men are afraid of hiring attractive women in the workplace after #MeToo.
Even if one plays devil’s advocate, Patas' claim that #MeToo was detrimental to women stems from the fact that men are dominant in the dynamics of the gender hierarchy in the 21st century. This perspective implies that women should be responsible for the inequality in the workplace we are subject to, even though it is a product of male discrimination. In other words, Patas asserts that women should accept the status quo of oppression and be complacent, claiming that #MeToo is damaging the chances we have to rise to a higher position. A fundamentally misogynistic claim that marginalizes the struggles of feminism, we cannot help but wonder if this is an attitude stemming from a privileged status.
Patas' article also mentions that men now fear women after #MeToo because their integrity at the workplace may be at risk. Newsflash: one’s integrity should not be brought into question because of the presence of a woman. If men fear the presence of attractive women in their vicinity, they are recognizing their intentions of sexual assault being exposed and the repercussions that may come with that exposure. In other words, if a man in a professional environment with female co-workers is aware of what constitutes sexual assault/harassment and has no intentions of committing either, he will be a mere spectator in #MeToo, never the belligerent.
Change is not linear, and #MeToo is no exception. Negative backlash will inevitably happen but this should not be an excuse to dismiss that positive change in the area of sexual harassment in the workplace that #MeToo created, and will create. With the power of the six percent “backlash” against attractive women that he bases his whole argument around, Patas completely dismisses everything that the #MeToo movement achieved. In stating that #MeToo was more harmful than effective and calling for a vague version of preventative methods to promote “equality” in the workplace, Patas attempts to invalidate how the #MeToo movement helped hundreds of thousands of women around the globe.
The #MeToo movement sheds light on the patriarchal structures built around sexual assault. The #MeToo movement ignites conversations around the globe on the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace. The #MeToo movement gives women solidarity in their struggle and trauma, a support system that they didn’t have before because of the fear of repercussions that they might face. The #MeToo movement was effective, and now men are complaining about it.
Andrijana Pejchinovska is Opinion Editor and Michelle Shin is Deputy Opinion Editor. Email them at
gazelle logo