Not Every Act of Sexual Misconduct Is a Case of #MeToo

It is a reality universally acknowledged that any man in possession of left-wing politics and smug feminist sensibilities have to be in need of a MeTooing.

In a media panorama fueled by outrage, nothing drives clicks fairly like one more story of a male feminist who’s been revealed as a knuckle-dragging lecher behind the scenes. The extra baldfaced his sanctimony, the extra fiery his rhetoric, the extra distinguished his self-proclaimed identification as a Woman Respecter, the extra inevitable evidently he’ll be ultimately outed as one of the unhealthy ones.

Aziz Ansari, Jack Smith IV, Sam Kriss, Louis C.Ok.: All of these males had been introduced down not simply by no matter they’d really executed, however by their penchant for feminist posturing, wherein they positioned themselves as enlightened by comparability to all the opposite members of their intercourse.

As such, it is no shock that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was subsequent on the chopping block. Here was a man who claimed to care deeply about respecting ladies; who believed that the 30-year-old sexual assault allegations in opposition to Brett Kavanaugh had been fatally damaging to the decide’s credibility; who distanced himself from his personal brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo, after an investigation decided a lengthy and disturbing sample of sexual harassment.

chris cuomo

And but, the allegations of misconduct in opposition to Chris Cuomo, made within the kind of a New York Times Op-Ed by his former boss, aren’t simply one other instance of a feminist man being hoisted by his personal petard. They additionally exhibit how our zeal for the #MeToo motion as a car for redressing sexual grievances has rendered us principally incapable of speaking about them in some other method.

Unlike the decade-long litany of allegations in opposition to his brother, Chris Cuomo’s #MeToo second hangs on a single incident, alleged in a single New York Times Op-Ed. Written by Shelley Ross, a lady who had been Cuomo’s producer at Primetime Live, the essay described an occasion of gross boorish conduct at a colleague’s going away social gathering in 2005, simply after Ross had ceased to be Cuomo’s boss.

“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” Ross writes. “‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance.”

Cuomo’s buttock-squeezing occurred in full view of Ross’s husband, who was sitting behind her on an ottoman. The two left instantly, and Cuomo emailed her inside an hour to apologize for what he’d executed. “now that I think of it… i am ashamed…” reads the topic line of the e-mail he despatched that evening.

To Ross, the apology learn “as an attempt to provide himself with legal and moral coverage to evade accountability.” In reality, accountability is what Ross claimed to be looking for within the Op-Ed, insisting she has “no grudge against Mr. Cuomo.” So why carry up a 16-year-old offense that Cuomo instantly apologized for and apparently by no means repeated now?

And there’s the rub: Ross cannot admit that she’s nonetheless pissed off at Chris Cuomo for grabbing her ass with out consent—despite the fact that it is precisely the sort of factor a cheap individual would possibly maintain a grudge about. (I used to be equally groped by a stranger on the New York City subway again in 2004, and the passage of time has executed nothing to minimize my anger on the man who did it—or, for that matter, on the male pal who shushed me and advised me to “stop making a scene” once I shouted on the man who’d assaulted me.) The solely method for Ross to have her damage and anger taken critically is to cram it into in the present day’s stylish #MeToo framework, to encompass it with huge discuss accountability and office toxicity and the systematic enabling of unhealthy male conduct.

And that is the bigger downside with the #MeToo motion because the be-all end-all framework for addressing previous infractions of a sexual nature: Not each infuriating or unacceptable conduct constitutes an abuse of energy. But MeToo can solely conceive of these behaviors by means of that lens, and in so doing, minimizes far worse and larger abuses—the sorts engaged in by Andrew Cuomo, for instance, when he allegedly sexually harassed his feminine staff for years.

If Ross’s anger is barely justified if what occurred to her was office harassment, there is not any outlet for righteous fury over what it really was—a man grabbing a lady with out permission.

“I never thought that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior was sexual in nature,” Ross writes. “Whether he understood it at the time or not, his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff.”

This could or is probably not true (arguably, the one one that can presumably know what Chris Cuomo “meant” by his conduct is Chris Cuomo), however the reality is irrelevant; when all you’ve got is a hammer, all the things seems to be like a nail, and when “sexual harassment” is the one kind of unhealthy conduct anybody desires to take critically, then being taken critically requires nothing lower than a declare of sexual harassment.

We did this to ourselves. Somewhere in between the primary presidential time period of Bill Clinton and the collection finale of “Sex and the City,” it turned oddly taboo on the Left to criticize extra minor varieties of sexual misconduct. Ordinary crudeness like Chris Cuomo’s ass-grabbing was one thing you had been presupposed to snicker off, for no different motive than that complaining about it risked making you appear to be a judgmental prude. Contrary to well-liked perception, in 2021, that taboo nonetheless persists—until you’ll find a solution to match unusual crudeness below the #MeToo umbrella, thus rendering it all of the sudden worthy of not simply dialogue however sanction.

Much has already been written in regards to the risks of #MeToo overreach, wherein minor offenses grow to be calamities whereas the precise calamities are trivialized by mission creep. But neglected on this dialog is the entire large world of sexually-tinged unhealthy acts which do not rise wherever close to to the extent of requiring an official response, however which we however would like didn’t occur.

Chris Cuomo’s alleged ass-grabbing is miles away from the type of pervasive hostility and abuse of energy that the #MeToo motion was formulated to deal with, however that does not make it okay. Unwanted ass-squeezing is a unhealthy factor to do! Doing it in entrance of the squeezee’s partner? Also unhealthy! Worse, even! And in a simply world, we would be able to say that Chris Cuomo did one thing gauche, gross, and unacceptable—whereas acknowledging that, in contrast to his huge brother’s conduct, gross and unacceptable is all that it’s.

Kat Rosenfield is a tradition author and novelist. Her subsequent e book, No One Will Miss Her, will likely be revealed by William Morrow in October 2021.

The views on this article are the author’s personal.

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