The #MeToo campaign has generated an extraordinary amount of comment.
While there is no doubt that people like Harvey Weinstein needed to be exposed, the fact that a great deal of minor events got to be lumped in, combined higgledy-piggledy with the more serious allegations with no attempt to distinguish between them has led more and more people to react and call for an end to the feeding frenzy.
Social media campaigns by their nature are incapable of moderation and completely unsuitable to any kind of serious study of particular relationships or social happenings.
The fallout from such feeding frenzies is now all too predictable; they become a witchhunt. When someone calls for a halt or simply points to the fact that often innocent people are named and shamed, the result is a ferocious calling out and screams for retribution against that person.
This happened to the actor Matt Damon who made a common-sense plea for a distinction between minor incidents and the serious ones. He also mentioned the possibility of false allegations and called for open-mindedness here. He seemed to be pointing to a particular kind of blackmail whereby a false allegation is made against an actor on the eve of their latest movie release.
All of these things point to an identity politics which is totalitarian and fundamentalist
The irony here is that Damon has identified publicly as a feminist. There have recently been calls from others for moderation. Mary Robinson who was initially supportive has said: “I slightly worry about the campaign because it is becoming a bit oppressive…women should be able to cope with slight things without it becoming too much of an issue.”.
A much more robust attack has come from 100 French female writers, actors and academics who wrote an Open Letter to Le Monde on Jan 9 2018. The letter contains this powerful statement:“As women we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power, takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality.”
Among the signatories are Catherine Deneuve, writer Abnousse Salmani who has compared feminism to Stalinism, and philosopher Peggy Sastre who “wants to do away with feminism.” Women are now being told to “speak in the right way, to keep quiet about what makes them angry, with those who refuse to obey regarded as traitors and accomplices!”, the letter claims.
All of these things point to an identity politics which is out of control and is totalitarian as well as puritanical.