From the Chicago Tribune:
Almost a year ago, a cautionary headline appeared atop a Tribune editorial: “Beware the long reach of #MeToo.” A year later, that warning to sexual predators — who rely on the silence of their victims — reverberates just as powerfully through American society.
In autumn 2017, Americans couldn’t tell if the #MeToo phenomenon would flare but then fizzle. Now they know the answer: No. There’s no #MeToo fizzle.
Just the opposite. Today #MeToo reaches into every American workplace, from the factory floor to the CEO’s suite. Into every school and dorm room. Into every gym and nightclub. And now, into the confirmation battle over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. College professor Christine Blasey Ford alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, when she was 15 and he was 17. Kavanaugh denies that any such misconduct occurred.
That’s a long time ago. But #MeToo claims don’t, and shouldn’t, carry expiration dates. Such allegations deserve adjudication.
In this past year, #MeToo has reached into Michigan State University, with the appalling testimony of gymnasts abused over decades by U.S. Olympic doctor turned prison inmate Larry Nassar.
This movement has reached to top of CBS, toppling CEO Les Moonves and news executive Jeff Fager.
It has reached into Illinois politics. Among the headlines: Republican state Rep. Nick Sauer of Lake Barrington resigns after his ex-girlfriend accuses him of improperly posting nude photos of her on Instagram. House Speaker Michael Madigan fires his longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes, after accusations of sexual harassment.
The #MeToo spotlight doesn’t just land on celebrities, media execs and politicos. Former Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief Jonathan Kaiman has resigned after being accused by two women of sexual misbehavior.
Nor is #MeToo confined to men behaving badly. Actress and #MeToo leader Asia Argento reportedly settled a complaint by an actor who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was 17, a charge she denies.
Even for those not accused of personal misconduct, #MeToo can sting. Ian Buruma, editor of The New York Review of Books, lost his job after the magazine published an essay by a former Canadian radio broadcaster accused of sexually assaulting women. Buruma outraged many readers when he seemed to shrug off the charges against the broadcaster, The New York Times reports. “I’m no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation,” Buruma told Slate. “How can I be? … The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern.” In other words: Not my problem. Now it is.
Some of the accused have denied #MeToo allegations, others have confessed their transgressions and apologized. Some from the latter group seek a return to the limelight, among them comedian Louis C.K.
Too soon? Audiences will decide.
If it wasn’t apparent a year ago, it is now: Obnoxious behavior that may have been shrugged off in years past isn’t anymore. Unwanted advances and worse aren’t buried and forgotten. They’re alive in the memories of victims.
In other words, you may not remember her (or him). But she (or he) remembers you.
The #MeToo warning applies equally to everyone, from corporate honcho to worker bee. What you did years ago in high school — or yesterday in the stairwell — can’t be undone. But you can watch how you deal today with classmates, co-workers, friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers.
We live in a #MeToo world now. All of us are more accountable than before for how we treat one another.