Sectionalism, Economism, and “Identity Politics” on the Left

Photo by Rob Kall | CC BY 2.0

There’s no question that the #MeToo movement is succeeding in directing much needed public attention to the issue of gender oppression. The rise of public resistance to misogyny has led to regular coverage in the news media toward the very real problem of sexism in the workplace. One problem with the coverage, however, is that it is highly episodic, focusing on individual high-profile cases of sexism, rather than thematic and spotlighting broader trends in sexual harassment and assault throughout society. This episodic framing has been seized on by the far-right in their effort to turn sexual harassment into an exotic issue, as they emphasize only high-profile cases of gender repression. To make matters worse, detractors are seeking to construct a new narrative suggesting that #MeToo is little more than a witch hunt and part of a broader feminist campaign that grants favoritism and privilege to women, while discriminating against and repressing men. Right-wing attacks seek to depict harassment and assault incidents as isolated or trumped-up, rather than reflecting a broader societal problem. These developments are highly unfortunate. For every high-profile male sexual abuser in Hollywood or in the halls of Congress and America’s newsrooms, there are countless harassers, misogynists, and sexual predators at work in corporate America, in the mid-to-lower levels of government, and in other occupational and institutional settings.


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