Allegations against Kavanaugh pose test for #MeToo movement

Allegations against Kavanaugh pose test for #MeToo movement

Aside from the Ford-Kavanaugh showdown, this has been a tumultuous season for the #MeToo movement

Nearly a year old and still making headlines almost daily, the #MeToo movement faces a dramatic test of its impact and staying power in the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Leaders of the movement suggest that Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, might have never found the courage to come forward publicly about an alleged assault from her high school days without the examples set by women worldwide who’ve spoken out about past encounters with sexual assault and harassment.

“Time and time again, people have been inspired by the people who came before them,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center. “They are willing to take on the risk of retaliation.”

Goss Graves is heartened by the fact that numerous senators of both parties say Ford deserves a chance to be heard on Capitol Hill — in itself, she said, an indication of the #MeToo movement’s staying power.

The movement exploded worldwide in October 2017, sparked by detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Across the U.S., and in many foreign countries, it has toppled powerful men in a wide range of fields — entertainment, journalism, politics and high tech, among others. Celebrity chefs, TV hosts and members of Congress are among those who have lost their jobs.

Almost from the start, it also fueled a backlash among those who felt the movement sometimes led to excesses and injustice. Ford’s allegations have rekindled that resentment.

Conservative actor James Woods, in a subsequently deleted tweet, depicted hers accusations as one of numerous “#MeTooLynchings.” The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial Monday titled “The #MeToo Kavanaugh Ambush.”

“Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence,” the editorial said. “It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship.”

Actor Sean Penn chimed in, suggesting it would be good for #MeToo “to just slow down.”

Even aside from the Ford-Kavanaugh showdown, this has been a tumultuous season for the #MeToo movement. Among the most recent developments:

—Two of the most powerful men in the U.S. television industry lost their jobs at least partly due to sexual misconduct allegations. Les Moonves stepped down as head of CBS Corp. and the network fired “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager. Both men have denied the accusations.

—A video of Harvey Weinstein aired on TV showing him propositioning a woman who later accused him of rape, repeatedly touching her and stroking her arm and back during what was supposed to have been a business meeting.

—”The Tonight Show” cancelled an appearance by comedian Norm Macdonald after he told The Hollywood Reporter he was “happy the #MeToo movement had slowed down a little bit.” Among other comments, Macdonald suggested there should be “forgiveness” for fellow comedian Louis C.K, who was accused of sexual misconduct and recently has taken steps to return to the limelight. Louis C.K.’s recent surprise appearance at a comedy club unleashed torrents of criticism from women’s advocates who said he had not properly atoned for his transgressions.

—Comedian Bill Cosby is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24 on three felony sex assault charges. He was convicted in April of drugging and molesting a woman at his home in 2004, and faces up to 10 years in prison on each of three felony counts.

As these cases indicate, much of #MeToo’s high-profile impact has been in the entertainment and media world. Noreen Farrell, executive director of San Francisco-based Equal Rights Advocates, said more work is needed to persuade employers in other sectors to crack down on sexual misconduct.

“While we have seen some celebrity-level public shaming over serial harassers and enablers, employers seem to be digging in and resisting change,” said Farrell, noting that the business lobby in California has been fighting hard against proposed anti-harassment legislation.

Among the many women in politics who have embraced the #MeToo movement is Gayle Goldin, a Democratic state legislator in Rhode Island who has campaigned against sexual misconduct.

She said the Ford-Kavanaugh case will be an important indicator of how public attitudes have changed since 1991, when Anita Hill was treated dismissively by senators of both parties when she levelled sexual misconduct allegations against Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Reflecting back to the 1990s, Goldin added, “The MeToo movement is not one moment in time, it is the culmination of pain by generations of women.”

“People are seeking justice, but that is not necessarily about the individual,” she said. “We are ultimately talking about culture change.”

David Crary, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Scooters lined up for an educational event in Stuart Park on Wednesday, June 16. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
Free e-scooter safety training in Kelowna

Shared e-scooter operators collaborate to educate riders

The suspect reportedly assaulted a security guard and robbed him. The incident happened at a Kelowna hotel. (Contributed)
Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Employees at Playtime Casino wait outside while firefighters inspect the building after a small storage room fire on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News).
Small fire at Kelowna’s Playtime Casino as staff preps to re-open

Fire ignited in the storage room, but the staff were able to put it out

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A mother stands with her daughter, visiting senior parents but observing social distancing with a glass door between them.  The granddaughter puts her hand up to the glass, the grandfather and grandmother doing the same.  A small connection in a time of separation during the Covid-19 pandemic (Valley First/Contributed).
Have your say on which Okanagan, Thompson, Similkameen charities get donation

Valley First seeks public help to distribute $250,000 to local charities via social media campaign

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

Vernon Courthouse. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Sentencing delayed in North Okanagan child pornography case

Man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography will have new sentence date fixed next week

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

People decided to tag Skaha Bluffs rocks which the Ministry has to go in and now clean up. (Facebook)
Bluffs at popular Penticton rock climbing park defaced

Ministry of Environment is going to clean it up

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Most Read