There seems to be a running theme with regards to the cynicism surrounding the #MeToo movement in that it is being continually referred to as a "witch-hunt". Of course, women are still being treated like "witches", disbelieved and demonised, but it is actually men who feel like they are the ones being burned at the stake now.
Why aren't we more offended by this analogy?
The Inquisition was seven centuries of free-thinking, self-assured, educated women being murdered for being too insubordinate. It was the bloodiest regime in history, claiming the lives of millions of women and yet people are throwing around the term "witch-hunt" as if men are the ones who are afraid to leave the house alone; as if men are the ones who are scared they won't be believed.
Filmmaker Michael Haneke bizarrely said in an interview with Deadline that "the witch hunt should be left in the Middle Ages" in his lament that more and more accusations of sexual assault are being taken seriously. Donald Trump used the term in reference to the Brett Kavanaugh scandal. Liam Neeson, Zoe Wanamaker and Jacqueline Bisset have all used the term, and more than 100 women even signed a letter denouncing the #MeToo movement as such.
There is, indeed, a witch-hunt happening in the world at the moment but it is not men who are the victims.
Recently an unnamed British businessman has managed to win an injunction against the press to prevent allegations of sexual assault made against him from being published by the press. He's being accused of "discreditable conduct", and yet we're not even allowed to know who he is. How can the #MeToo movement be called a witch-hunt against men when they are still the ones with the power?
There's a dry irony in that the main thing that tied women to witchcraft in the Middle Ages was not, in fact, any divergent religious belief, but sexual liberation. The Malleus Maleficarum detailed that carnal lust was the first sign of a woman's connection to the Devil. In other words, any woman who dares to enjoy sex is a witch.
This is still going on today in a much more watered down sense. If a woman is extremely sexually active, any complaint they have with regards to sexual assault is not taken seriously. She's hit with "She wants sex all the time, so what makes that time so different?" and "It can't have affected her that much, she's slept with lots of men before". And when it comes to sexual harassment, that's a total myth for sexually liberated women as far as the patriarchy is concerned. If a woman chooses to have sex with lots of people, after a certain point it becomes acceptable for ANY man to assume he has a right to make inappropriate advances.
Furthermore, if a woman continues to enjoy a fulfilling sex life after being sexually assaulted, instead of being praised for her strength, she's told she simply hasn't been that affected by it. A woman who has been sexually assaulted cannot show signs of living a normal, happy life post-trauma without being subject to some scrutiny.
The fact is, as women, we grow up to expect to be ridiculed, ignored, abused, patronised and humiliated. The #MeToo movement is not a witch-hunt. It's women finally claiming ownership of their bodies and their voices after hundreds of years of abuse. It's about setting an example to those parts of the world where beating and raping women is still acceptable by law.
It's true that fake rape accusations do happen, and it's disgusting. It's a disgusting thing to do to someone and it's sickeningly disrespectful towards women and men who have genuinely been victims of sexual assault. However, according to a 2010 study published by the peer-reviewed academic journal Violence Against Women, just 2-10% of rape allegations were proven to be false in the last 20 years, with the FBI's own study claiming 8%.
This means that the majority of allegations are real. There is no 50/50 chance of a man being targeted in a false allegation. How many women during the Inquisition were proven to be witches? The answer is 0%. And yet millions were tried and convicted. Meanwhile, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 994 out of every 1,000 rapists will walk free.
We are sick and tired of men pretending that they are too scared to talk to women in case they're accused of sexual assault, when it's exactly the sort of men who say things like that who women are afraid of anyway Those kind of men are not scared of sexual assault, they are scared of having their power and dominion over women taken away from them.
It's not always black and white, we understand that. It's impossible to know what is going to trigger a person, but if you approach a woman with the intention of speaking to her like you would a mother or a sister, you cannot go wrong. Don't touch a woman without her consent. Don't stare at her breasts. Don't make sexually explicit comments if they've never clearly expressed a desire to sleep with you. And don't, for the love of God, attempt sexual contact if she is a) unresponsive, b) unwilling, or c) unconscious.
If you, as a man, feel that you can no longer approach a woman because you don't know the difference between being friendly and being a creep, then don't. That, from our perspective, is a result.