The recent indictment of Harvey Weinstein represents a significant victory for the #MeToo movement. This movement may be bringing about some needed social change, but proponents of it need to tread lightly. There is a real danger that like other cultural causes, it can boomerang and strike those who hope to benefit. Women should calculate what could happen to damage them.
It may start at the hiring process. Women could quickly be seen as an increased liability exposure. A rational employer may simply judge the female candidate a higher sexual harassment lawsuit risk than an equally qualified man.
For those already in the workforce, they may have to forget getting assistance or mentoring from any man in a position to provide it. Doing so may rationally be determined simply too risky given the current climate.
Finally, the until-now accepted and not-inappropriate interplay between men and women at work, which many times leads to a lasting relationship and even marriage, may end. It can happen either by company policy, or simple fear of an unjust accusation.
Men will respond logically to the storm that swirls around them, and to those that blame them for the swirling. They will make a calculus to simply not engage and risk damage to their livelihood and reputation. It’s easier to mind your own business on the job, and to meet your male buddies for beers off it.
Those women who have a legitimate cause of action in a civil or criminal court should be encouraged to have at it. But those who only use the issue to further some ideological battle against phantom enemies like toxic masculinity and the evil patriarchy should think carefully about the costs. They are real, and they may be borne by those very women the movement meant to help. #MeToo could become #WhatHappened?