‘Up in smoke’

One false accusation could discredit entire #MeToo movement, columnist warns

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

In the midst of widespread optimism about the power of the #MeToo movement to effect a change in how people think of, and deal with, sexual harassment and assault, Daily Beast senior editor Erin Gloria Ryan warns that it could take only one false accusation for conservative-minded people to “discredit all of us.”

In an Op-Ed for The Daily Beast, Ryan points out that the debunked Rolling Stone campus rape story may have paved the way for Betsy DeVos’ reevaluation of campus rape policies and buoyed the arguments of conservatives who believe the Trump administration’s claim that 90 percent of sexual assault claims on school campuses are false. In a similar way, she argues, if a #MeToo claim was proven to be false, the movement could also “go up in smoke in a second.”

“Because enough people believe that women are all liars,” she writes, “that one liar will fuck it up for all of us.”

The burden of offering women unconditional belief for their claims, she adds, could lead to cynical political opportunism. In the wake of a groping allegation made against Democratic Senator Al Franken, she noted, conservative former radio host Melanie Morgan suggested that she was stalked and harassed by Franken in a tweet that directed readers to her website, where she elaborated that Franken had called her repeatedly because she disagreed with her on a policy issue. Morgan, she points out, had no problem staunchly defending Bill O’Reilly despite his having reached settlements totaling millions of dollars with several women who accused him of sexual harassment and assault — including one settlement of $32 million that was reached with Lis Wiehl, a Fox News on-air personality.

Ryan, who is not the first columnist to have wondered whether the #MeToo movement is vulnerable to abuse, also spoke about the difficulty of convincing people with a “Roy Moore Old Testament-Original Sin-Women Are Liars mindset” of the prevalence of sexual assault, and the possible ways the “conservative propaganda machine” could warp the #MeToo movement to its own ends.

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.

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