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Why a War on the Wellness Industry (including Goop) is Doomed to Failure

Many women idolize the Victorian era, and enjoy romantic and dramatic TV shows and movies about this period, but the truth is that, historically, there was no worse time in history to be a woman. 

At the advent of psychology, being a woman itself was considered an impairment. Women who were angry, overworked, abused, or simply bored, were considered mentally ill. Women who enjoyed sex or sought an orgasm were considered mad indeed. Women were locked in mental asylums and tortured; treatments for being “oversexed” included ice baths that froze women, some until their hearts stopped, physical restraints, and by the 1930’s, the terror of a frontal lobotomy (if you’re curious, in the Medieval era, by contrast, most people believed an orgasm helped a woman get pregnant.)

While thankfully much of that horror is over, some of it remains. The modern-day version is to ply overworked, exhausted, angry, abused, even bored women with piles of high-dose anti-depressants to get them to shut up. Obviously, there are real uses for some people, like myself, who have a genuine illness, but there’s no question many of these medicines are badly over-prescribed for women and children, very rarely for men. That’s no accident. Alternatives to western medicine are sometimes silly, useless, and even dangerous, but given modern medicine’s history with women, it’s not hard to understand why many woman are interested in something else.

Few issues divide women today like the wellness industry, especially Goop, and its polarizing owner, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Nearly everyone falls on one side of the love/hate divide on this company, as most women have always fallen on one side or the other on the love/hate debate about her personally. 

Other celebrities and wealthy West Coast and New York moms tend to fall on the love side (and spend their money accordingly), while most medical professionals, especially gynecologists, fall strongly on the hate side, arguing Goop does not offer accurate medical advice. On that one statement, there is no debate at all. No, Goop clearly does not offer accurate medical information or advice; some of it has even been dangerous. (For the record, please don’t put anything except clean fingers, other people’s body parts, or clean toys where the sun don’t shine, thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.) 

But what these doctors are missing is that “wellness” has nothing to do with facts to begin with. “Wellness” is not a fact; it’s a feeling, and emotional components are virtually impossible to measure. 

It goes way beyond the by-the-book western medicine many doctors insist is the only trustworthy source of information. After all, if women who love wellness had wanted to go to the doctor, they would have. Most of Paltrow’s devotees have no problem affording healthcare. 

Some Western doctors also turn off women by being arrogant, stubborn, and even racist insisting there’s no benefit whatsoever to holistic medicine, Chinese medicine, herbal supplements, etc, dismissing many disciplines that have kept people in other cultures alive for thousands of years. Many of us have benefitted from utilizing alternative medicine in addition to western medicine. 

I think the first thing we need to do is stop putting “everything that isn’t western medicine” in one big pile. We need to put alternative medicine and brands like Goop in different categories. I don’t think it’s remotely unfair to put acupuncture and a $75 candle that smells like a vagina in two different categories. When considering the worth of the Wellness industry we also have to consider whether they also have different motivations.

When it comes to wellness, it was never about being sick; it was always about what’s missing in modern women’s lives and how the wellness industry provides comfort, belonging, society, self-care, and spirituality in a way few other things do these days, at a time when women need it more than ever. Anger does not make a woman crazy; to the contrary, I think if you see how the world works and you’re not angry, that’s a better indication of insanity. Until Western medicine stops writing off righteous emotions as a “woman’s problem”, wellness isn’t going anywhere. 

By the time the modern, educated, intelligent woman hits her late 30’s, she knows one thing for sure: society and her momma are damn liars. Everything that was supposed to give her life meaning and purpose, from men to marriage to children to religion to careers, has done nothing but make her life harder. She might be willing to fight to the death for her kids; that doesn’t mean she doesn’t occasionally wonder what it would be like to be having fun without them. Women never stop working from sun up to sundown. That’s a hard truth, but it’s still truth.

Women do everything in a household, from bringing home the bacon to bringing up baby. Amanda Marcotte of Salon found that most men, even modern men, still expect women to do nearly all the housework, cooking, and childcare, while holding the same work hours they do. The pandemic made these overworked women into temporary elementary school teachers also. Studies show that even in marriages where the woman is the breadwinner, she still does the majority of housework.

Overworked, overstressed women need to feel a sense of comfort and belonging, offered by the wellness industry. Sometimes the act of spending money on wellness itself feels like taking a step toward being okay. So, when it comes to major wellness brands, was it all about the money in the first place?

Amanda Mull for the Atlantic purchased over a grand of products from Goop to see what worked and what didn’t. Predictably, the medical-related purchases, such as vitamins and cure-alls, didn’t go so well, as she hilariously explains what it was like to hide under her desk after a particular formula made her literally stink. Other products, like lotion and hair ties, she found expensive, but useful.

Mull confesses that Goop is “a one-stop shop for people hell-bent on perfecting themselves, that has helped sell Americans on the idea that “wellness”, means buying things until you feel better.”

While few medical professionals would want there to be more wellness companies (or even for those that exist to still be around in 5 years), removing them by force is a battle doomed to failure. The wellness industry found a way to cash in on women’s fury over their emotions, symptoms, and needs being dismissed as mental problems instead of genuine societal issues, and there’s no getting rid of Goop, et al. without getting rid of the problem first. 

It doesn’t help that most social groups for women turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth. If you join the garden club, you have to keep a garden. If you join the PTA, you have to attend meetings and have impressive bake sale offerings. Every organization for women comes with major asks. In other words, more work, for women who already don’t have time to do what’s on their plates. Wellness doesn’t. Wellness is the self-care without the pressure; it’s self-indulgence in a way, with all the benefits and none of the drawbacks. Until we can create a way to provide women with what we need that doesn’t ask the moon in return, the concept of wellness isn’t going anywhere.

In the meantime, we’re just going to have to trust each other to have some common sense. The skincare at Goop is very high quality, but is a $99 vitamin really going to turn you into the Bionic woman? Probably not. In the war between western medicine and wellness, I see lots of people making money off women and women having little to no agency, and there’s nothing new about that.

There aren’t always true villains and true heroes in a war in which every side has their own motivations. Actual wellness is about women choosing our own side, choosing to take time to relax, to socialize, and to take care of ourselves, and it’s about our partners taking responsibility for being helpmates, husbands, and fathers. And when we do that, $300 jade vagina eggs will be a relic of the past.

“Woke” Liberal Men Still Don’t Get It

Some of the best educated, most liberal men in the country continue to trip on the step of misogyny. In this time of universal condemnation of oppression, it seems more ridiculous than ever.Many of us have been in the situation. We’re talking to a male friend we agree with on almost everything, or at least the important stuff. We can discuss the dangers of the far right, fascism, racism, art, literature, and science.And then it happens. He says something like:“Hilary (or any woman) just needs to sit down and shut up.”“How did I know you were going to play the woman card?”“What do women here have to complain about? You’re lucky you don’t live in the middle east.”“She’s miserable because she didn’t get married and have children.”“Men are the ones being oppressed now.”“There’s no way a woman like you has any real problems.”All those are exact quotes from male friends, co-workers, bosses, fellow students, professors, and others who consider themselves staunch liberals, even feminists, and as woke as an alarm clock. The comments left me sitting with my mouth hanging open in utter shock, wondering whom I’d really been speaking to all this time. It’s also debilitating to realize liberal men are just as likely to attack women’s looks and bodies as their conservative counterparts when it comes to women they disagree with.Why is misogyny such a stumbling block for men who are otherwise fully capable of noticing and opposing the oppression of others? It’s complicated, but it’s all about sex and power.Why Misogyny is DifferentMost progressive men oppose racism. They march with #BLM, they make donations, they write articles to help out, they support the rights of black men, and are happy to share power. Equality that takes place “outside” feels acceptable to them, such as equality in friendships, in the workplace, in education, and in housing. Those things aren’t personal.Equality that takes place “inside” is a whole other matter. Inside his home, sharing power sounds a lot less fun. Fair division of household chores sounds like hell on earth. Their mothers took care of all that stuff, so why can’t you?Amanda Marcotte of Salon explores the cruel fact that most modern liberal men still expect women to do nearly all the housework, cooking, and childcare, while holding the same work hours they do.According to her findings, single women do less manual labor than married women, despite not having a partner to share the load, that the majority of men who promised to do housework before marriage stop within 3 months,and that even 59% of Gen Z teenage boys expect women to do most of the housework in a marriage. Studies show that even in marriages where the woman is the breadwinner, she still does the majority of housework.Disagreement and validation of those with opposing viewpoints sound a lot less fun inside his castle too. Over 60% of men have broken up with a woman for being “too negative.” Many men still see women as a helpmate whose purpose is to make their lives easier and relieve their stress. Kristin Oakley for Quartz takes on why merely passionate women are seen as aggressive, while aggressive men are seen as merely passionate.But the room where sharing power is the most frightening for men is obvious: the bedroom, where domination, violence, and ego are often fronts for intense fear of women and low self-esteem.The privileged position in which women know men’s secrets, weaknesses, bodies, habits, and desires, puts us in the disenfranchised position of never being treated as equals because we know too much.Our job becomes supporting the family (ie: the man) over supporting ourselves, choosing what’s best for him over what’s best for us, and above all, keeping our mouths shut, all things that are never expected of him.In personal relationships, men still see women as assistants whose job it is to elevate him. His job, his choices, his hobbies, and his interests are prioritized at all costs, including her own. Such a person could never be an equal.Until men are willing to see women as something other than sexual objects and personal assistants, misogyny will never change, even for liberal men who advocate on behalf of other minorities

Racism and #Me Too

Racism and #MeToo: How the Founder of the Most Influential Women’s Rights Movement in 30 Years Got Erased From Its HistoryBorn in the Bronx, she became interested in the well-being of marginalized young girls from an early age. She moved to Selma, Alabama, in the late 90’s, and was even a consultant on the 2014 movie Selma.She created the nonprofit “Just Be” in 2003 for African American girls ages 12–18, and started “Girls For Gender Equality” in Brooklyn.She’s been on the cover of Time magazine, won the Ridenhour Prize for Courage in 2018, and was the guest of Michelle Williams at the Golden Globes.She also created #MeToo in 2007, a decade before anyone else was talking about it. Her name is Tarana Burke. Never heard of her? You’re not alone.Most people think #MeToo was created by Hollywood actresses- specifically Alyssa Milano-after they revealed they too had been victims of Harvey Weinstein, following the exposé by Ronan Farrow in The New York Times.When Alyssa Milano tweeted for women to add #MeToo to their posts if they had been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed, for many people it was the first time they’d heard of the idea, and credited the concept in its entirety to the actress. Those who knew she was not the originator of the concept were swift, and occasionally severe, in correcting her. In her defense, Ms. Milano set the record straight fast and named Tarana Burke as the originator. It was not the fact that Milano had overlooked Burke that was problematic — she literally didn’t know who the women was. The problem was that very few people cheering for #MeToo did.Why It Was FoundedTarana Burke founded #MeToo to bring together marginalized women who had been sexually assaulted, women who were the least likely to seek, or receive, help. She recognized that in disenfranchised communities all over America, women who would never have called the police had little or no access to help or resources if they were raped. Many had come to expect sexual violence as part of their lives. Burke founded #MeToo not so much to solve the problem, as to say “hey, me too, you’re not alone” so that young women in these communities would feel normal and like they had someone to talk to.The movement has moved away from that message, and Burke is not necessarily enthused about it. It’s clear that taking #MeToo global has been great for women, but Burke is still unsure about its popularity.In The Nation’s “Tarana Burke Says #MeToo Should Center Marginalized Communities”, when asked why she was troubled that the conversation was moving in a different direction, she stated, “I mean moving away from marginalized people. And to some degree, it’s still happening. The conversation is largely about Harvey Weinstein or other individual bogeymen. No matter how much I keep talking about power and privilege, they keep bringing it back to individuals… It defeats the purpose to not have those folks centered — I’m talking black and brown girls, queer folks. There’s no conversation in this whole thing about transgender folks and sexual violence. There’s no conversation in this about people with disabilities and sexual violence. We need to talk about Native Americans, who have the highest rate of sexual violence in this country. So no, I can’t take my focus {off} marginalized people.”Again, #MeToo was originally founded not so much to solve the problem, as to make victims feel less alone. Burke expounds, “We have to start talking about nontraditional methods to pursuing justice…The process was you had to go to the local police station, report the crime, and then they would make a referral to the rape-crisis center. I was appalled when I learned that. That’s a big hurdle for us, because we don’t trust the police….” Burke is also concerned about rehabilitation of offenders, so the process doesn’t keep repeating itself. In all likelihood, both victims and offenders will live in the same neighborhood, or even the same household, most of their lives. That’s an entirely different scenario than what faces victims in wealthier neighborhoods who pursue justice through traditional means.How and Why African American Women Are Left Out of the DiscussionIntersectionality is a topic that cannot be avoided in a discussion like this, however I’m not going into the detail. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the basic definition is that people experience multiple levels of identity simultaneously, and cannot be reduced to one of those categories alone. A black woman is not only a woman, she’s black. She’s not only black, she’s a woman. And she is discriminated against as both simultaneously, and in a way neither of the other two disenfranchised communities can truly understand as she can. Further detail can be provided by African American feminists; it would be swerving out of my lane to whitesplain the topic to those who understand it better than I do. There are many women, and some on medium I’m sure, who are far more knowledgeable on the topic, and whose voices on the topic are more valuable than mine. Hopefully they can go into further detail.White feminism however has a long ugly history of excluding women of color. Elizabeth Cady Stanton crusaded for the right to vote while bemoaning the fact that black men had something she didn’t. Black suffragettes were asked to march at the back of white suffragette parades. And when asked to include racism in their message, early white feminists declined in order “to keep the message from getting muddled.” In other words, to make sure they could continue to attract racist white women who might otherwise be interested in suffrage.Going ForwardWhile a lot of changed, and a lot has not, it’s not really that surprising that a black woman in America would lose control of her own message. While I personally don’t think we should walk back #MeToo, I DO think we need to remember where the focus originally was. The problem Burke cited still exists, and #MeToo hasn’t done much to elevate it. We should remember to make minority women a central focus of #MeToo.And to never stop pointing out opposition to #MeToo is not only sexism, it’s also racism.

When Misogyny Comes From Women: What #MeToo Articles Reveal About the Gender Power Structure

As tempting as it may be to paint all women as defenders of the #MeToo movement, and all men as villains against it, that would be wrong and reductive. As most know, #MeToo went global when the story on Harvey Weinstein was broken by Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (yes, THAT Woody Allen). He insisted the story get out, even after he encountered resistance at NBC. The story was eventually published in the New York Times. Clearly not all problematic #MeToo articles are written by men, and not all positive articles are written by women.It seems many publications and corporations — including the Miss America Pageant, which will now be hosted by Gretchen Carlson — have bought into the post #MeToo mythology that a nice, warm, comforting heap of misogyny is just fine if it’s served up by a woman.And that is exactly what the normally non-reactionary New York Times got in the form of Daphne Merkin’s “Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings.” Merkin’s position is that women publicly support #MeToo, mostly because they are afraid to admit they don’t really agree with it. She states, “In private it’s a different story. “Grow up, this is real life,” I hear these same feminist friends say. “What ever happened to flirting?” and “What about the women who are the predators?” Some women, including random people I talk to in supermarket lines, have gone so far as to call it an outright witch hunt.” Hearing a feminist refer to anything as a witch hunt would be remarkable indeed.Merkin then trods two familiar paths. One is familiar to male opponents of #MeToo — that the movement is puritanical, anti-sex and anti-romance, evoking the imagery of the witch trial, crying, “There is an inquisitorial whiff in the air, and my particular fear is that in true American fashion, all subtlety and reflection is being lost. Next we’ll be torching people for the content of their fantasies.”The other weapon in her hand is wielded almost exclusively by women — the suggestion that #MeToo is bad for women’s agency. She states, “What happened to women’s agency? That’s what I find myself wondering as I hear story after story of adult women who helplessly acquiesce to sexual demands. I find it especially curious given that a majority of women I know have been in situations in which men have come on to them — at work or otherwise. They have routinely said, “I’m not interested” or “Get your hands off me right now.” And they’ve taken the risk that comes with it.”No one should have to risk being fired to say “I’m not interested”, but the reason this argument is so irritating is also the reason it’s so effective. It implies she’s actually on the side of other women, and is simply trying to toughen them up. For the record, there were — and still are — plenty of articles implying civil rights are bad for African American, LGBT, or Native American agency also, and that everything from hate crime legislation to Affirmative Action should be abolished for failing to support minority “agency.” The effectiveness of this tactic lies in the argument’s deception, implying women are just as tough as men, when in truth the argument is a sophisticated form of victim blaming, in which those women who are intimidated or threatened into not speaking up (or fired for their trouble) simply aren’t as tough as women who do.A similar article, “The Other Whisper Network” in March 2018’s Harper’s by Katie Roiphe, compares #MeToo to the 1996 case of a six-year-old boy being suspended for kissing a little girl on the cheek. The rest of the article, reminiscent of Hockenberry’s piece, is largely composed of sour grapes — in this case expressing hurt feelings over how she’s been treated by feminists in the past. She shares with Merkin knowing a great number of women who are comfortable defending themselves from sexual assault, but are too terrified to speak to her on record.On the other side of the spectrum, men do write helpful #MeToo articles, even if they’re flawed. There have been several medium.com. “What Do Men Do Now?” by Tony Goldwyn appeared in the May issue of InStyle magazine, an article he wrote after attending a Time’s Up meeting in Los Angeles, hosted by women. Mr. Goldwyn states he wrote the article to help men understand what they should and should not do to support Time’s Up. He even offers some solid advice: “It takes courage to acknowledge uncertainty” and “The simple truth is that men are better bosses, colleagues, parents, friends, allies, and lovers when we ask instead of assume.” Rather than attacking the movement, this essay deserves credit for trying to be part of the solution.Here on medium, John de Vore’s This is How Men Forget Women tackles the difficult concept of sexual abuse with raw honesty. De Vore imagines the difficulty of a girlfriend watching the Kavanaugh testimony, wanting to initiate a conversation about what her boyfriend may have done in his past. Recognizing the dodge. And dealing with the sanctified silence in which men protect other men, he writes: “As a person who hasn’t had a drink in eight short years, I can tell you that drinking so much that you pass out doesn’t absolve you of anything. The groping. The cruel words and laughter. The sexual boundaries pushed. The sexual boundaries violated. Horseplay. We forget the looks of anger and disappointment. We forget the wreckage. We forget women.”Patriarchy is the system we live in, and the system we live in is predetermined to reward those who reinforce the status quo and punish those who rebel. Every society has done so. Often the quickest path to success for a woman is cooperation and turning a blind eye, while those with privilege can sometimes use it for good.

Witch Hunt! How Writers Used Misogynistic Language to Redefine the Victims and Villains of #MeToo

We’ve all seen them — the plethora of articles about men’s feelings in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. For every piece written on how #MeToo has affected women, there’s now two on how men feel about it, if it’s made them rethink their sexual habits, if they’re afraid their exploits as young men will get them fired as old men, if they’re concerned innocent men are being accused, if it makes them angry or uncomfortable, and if it’s all “gone too far”.

The Language of Spin

Words are powerful, and so is point-of-view. From the first word, these authors changed the narrative by changing the perspective. Suddenly, the victims became villains and perpetrators- pushy women, blinded by hatred of men, forcing these innocent souls to live in a brave new world they neither condone nor understand. The guilty then become victims of the wicked political correctness police state, their very livelihoods sometimes at stake.

Readers who are students of history, criminal justice, writing, linguistics, racism, or are just familiar with the character assassination that is de rigeur during most rape trials, will probably not too be shocked by this protagonist/antagonist flip-flop. The antagonists re-framed the story, and the media let them do it.

More than half the articles have the same, or a subtly altered title, titles which imply the answer in the question, such as “Has #MeToo Gone Too Far?” or are meant to garner sympathy for the accused, such as “What Do Men Do Now?” All use misogynistic language to send the clear message that women — indeed society — is wildly out of control.

These articles all contain a very specific vernacular that goes to histrionic heights, comparing a women’s rights movement to Salem witch hunts, McCarthyism, the Terror of the French Revolution, and one article even compared the movement to Nazi Germany. Make no mistake, these words are intended to send a message, both direct and subliminal. The terms which also appear with alarming frequency are those with gender-specific etymology meant to enforce the feminization of insanity, suggesting women are simply crazy, such as “lunatic”, “mania”, and “hysterical.” Other terms, such as innocent and innocuous, often appear in male-viewpoint #MeToo articles.

With or without any specific title, the theme of these articles is always the same — “what do men do now?!” implies “what do the REAL victims do now”?

But if the accused are victims, what are they victims of?

The Short Version of the Long History of Witch Hunts

While the term “witch-hunt” itself only dates to 1885, the majority of witch hunts took place in Europe between 1400 and 1800. Persecution picked up after Jacob Sprenger published Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) in in 1487. The book also set the standard for witchy behavior including the slaughter of babies and wild sex in the forest with the devil (if you’re thinking this sounds more like one guy’s fantasy weekend than a reference book, you’re not alone).

During this time, as many as 60,000 women were brutally murdered for the crime, which often ended in burning or hanging, but first featured such torture as having thumbs or breasts cut off, as well as months of mental torture to induce confession. Men and children have also been charged, and the Salem witch trials in 1692 America, which claimed the lives of thirteen women, also claimed two men, but it was largely a crime believed to be committed by women.

The term itself carries the heavy baggage of hundreds of years of the most brutal, violent, and hateful form of misogyny — the desire to kill women, especially those in the way or those are who are non-cooperative sexually. Admittedly, the term has expanded greatly over the centuries, and now has metonyms, such as “McCarthyism”, but has never lost its misogynistic roots, nor is it possible to ever separate the term from a misogynistic message. It never fails to summon imagery of women out of control.

The Articles

There are far too many to mention them all, but below are a smattering:

“There’s nothing inflammatory or insensitive, or even conservative or liberal, about fearing a modern day Salem”, writes the New York Post Editorial board in the February 10, 2018, article “When The“MeToo Movement Goes Too Far”, immediately evoking the imagery of women out of control and lives lost.

The article focuses on supporting Trump’s quote, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Obviously, every American should care deeply about due process and protecting the innocent. However, the article then proceeds to congratulate Lena Dunham for defending her friend (writer Murray Miller) from rape charges, but neglects to mention Ms. Dunham was forced to apologize when the allegations were proven true. Given its history, it may be no wonder the New York Post got the moral of the story wrong — it’s not how many times #MeToo allegations have proven false that’s shocking, but how many times they’ve been proven true.

September 23, 2018, they published Karol Markowicz’s “Now #MeToo is Coming For Your Thought Crimes” which takes issue with the backlash against Ian Buruma, the former editor of The New York Review of Books, when he published an article by Jian Ghomeshi, in which Ghomeshi attempted to excuse his behavior. Ghomeshi is a man accused of the sexual assault of over 20 women. While Ghomeshi was acquitted of one of the crimes in court, he seems to openly admit guilt of some kind in his printed essay in which he states, “And at some point, when it came to women, I began to use my liberal gender studies education as a cover for my own behavior. I was ostensibly so schooled in how sexism works that I would arrogantly give myself a free pass.” Meanwhile, Markowicz relates in tear-wringing detail the “helplessness, shame, and fear” he felt after being accused.

Markowicz bemoans the backlash against Buruma as equating thought with deed, while ignoring the long ugly history of powerful men standing up for powerful men, no matter what deed they committed, including rape. This type of behavior makes it virtually impossible to prove sexual assault in court, where women often need witnesses (and male witnesses at that) to a crime committed in private. The day before, The New York Post published “#MeToo Has Morphed Into a Career-Destroying Angry Mob”, which likewise takes issue with backlash against defenders of those who commit sexual assault.

The Guardian’s “Michael Haneke: #MeToo has led to a witch hunt ‘coloured by a hatred of men’” is another article that doesn’t even attempt to hide its histrionic language. The article quotes the Australian filmmaker as saying, “This new puritanism coloured by a hatred of men, arriving on the heels of the #MeToo movement, worries me,” he said. “As artists, we’re starting to be fearful since we’re faced with this crusade against any form of eroticism.” Damage to the lives and careers of women in the film industry who have been assaulted apparently don’t merit mention. He’s not the first or the last man to suggest the #MeToo movement is anti-sex. If anything, this demonstrates total confusion, if not willful ignorance, on the part of some writers to understand the very concept of consensual sex.

Andrew Sullivan’s “It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #Me Too” in The Daily Intelligencer discusses a movement to defend women’s safety in much the same terminology Napoleon used to discuss The Terror of the French Revolution. He describes the movement as “mania”, and states “But I’ll tell you what’s also brave at the moment: to resist this McCarthyism, to admit complexity…to defend sex itself, and privacy, and to rely on careful reporting to expose professional malfeasance.” In Sullivan’s defense, he took the subtler path, referring to #MeToo as “McCarthyism”, rather than a straight up witch trial, though the message is the same: the brave ones are not the women who come forward at great risk to themselves to state what was done to them, it’s those who put possible damage to men’s reputations above everything else, including women’s safety.

The Washington Examiner’s “Danish Psychologist Compares #MeToo Movement with Nazi Gestapo”, on the other hand, eschews subtlety of any kind. While author Nicole Russell is careful to include this line, “While it certainly doesn’t seem like America’s #MeToo movement looks anything like a Gestapo…”, it’s also clear she basically agrees with the psychologist’s premise. Lines like, “That a columnist living in one of the most progressive parts of the world would say this speaks volumes for the trajectory of the #MeToo movement here in the United States” make clear the extreme territory the writer is wading into is perfectly comfortable for her.

And what makes this particular psychologist qualified to compare a woman’s rights movement to the Third Reich? He’s Scandinavian, a culture which has traditionally been more concerned with equality than America. That’s it. That’s the only reason. The psychologist, Finn Korsaa, frames #MeToo as offensive feminism rooting out and demonizing masculinity, to which the author comments “Of course Korsaa would be intimately familiar with this concept of extreme equality, given his geographical location.” This article, which comfortably mixes sexism with anti-Semitism, is hardly alone in discriminating against more than one minority.

No article however more clearly plays musical chairs with victims and villains than John Hockenberry’s “Exile” in the October 2018 Harper’s. Hockenberry recounts the loss of his radio show in the face of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and racism. His rambling 7,000-word defense includes everything from a well-worn reference to the French Revolution (a witch hunt metonym had to be in there somewhere), to a comparison between himself and composers of the Romantic era (echoing other publications which have framed defense of sexual assault as defense of romance and sex itself).

No other personal #MeToo essay has quite as many words, or quite as much nerve. At one point, Hockenberry even suggests he educate women on how to talk about sex in the future, stating “I hope that in offering some kind of context for my misfortunes I can also provide a basis for the beginning of a constructive conversation about sexuality in the twenty-first century”, and you can hear collective eyes rolling with the line, “Had I not been accused of being a sexual harasser I doubt I would have ever looked into the emotional life of Brahms.”

For the record, he doesn’t deny the behavior so much as reframe it as awkward attempts to flirt. But the most astounding moment is when he states, “Even if I conceded the worst possible view of my own behavior, #MeToo does not seem to consider the effect my being tossed out onto an iceberg has on my five children, especially my three daughters….” In this way, he literally accuses his victims of doing the same thing to his daughters that he did to the accusers. In case victims did not suffer from enough guilt, now they are also supposed to worry about the effect their allegations may have on women in the life of their assailant. How much responsibility does he bear for this effect? None that he mentions.

It Was Innocuous Anyway

The word “innocuous” is repeated many times in male-viewpoint articles about #MeToo. In fact, a Google search revealed the terms “#MeToo” and “innocuous” together brought up 31,800 hits. There’s a reason for that. “Innocuous” means innocent, accidental- a mere trifle, if you will. Along with “innocent” the word “innocuous” also means “unimportant.”

The implication of the use of this term in so many articles, of course, is that while these men’s activities were innocuous, the consequences were not. In this crazy new world women have created, how is any man to know right from wrong?

Not for the first time, we’re asked to believe as women these perpetrators did not really understand they were doing something wrong when they harassed, touched, propositioned, imposed, illegally fired, raped, assaulted, and tormented women for most of their lives. #MeToo may be a modern movement, but the implication that women are lying, exaggerating, or being unreasonable in their allegations of sexual violence is old as time itself.

Language is a tool, and it can be an effective, and sometimes dangerous, one in the hands of those who know how to wield it.

5 Ways to Find Out If You’re Paid Less Than a Male Co-Worker

Despite the Equal Pay Act, women earn 82 cents on the dollar

Equal Pay Day was March 24 this year; several years ago, it was April 4. While the date changes, the reason for Equal Pay Day doesn’t. It marks how far into the new year a woman is working for free if she were being paid the same salary as a man for doing the same job.

Currently, women are paid an average of 82 cents on every dollar earned by a white male. For African American, Latina, and Asian women, that number is closer to 77 cents. Lots of reasons are offered to explain the difference. Fewer women graduate from college, many women take off years for childcare, and fewer girls go into high paying STEM careers (though a study showed girls and students of color receive lower scores in math than white boys for the same work.)

However, implicit and unconscious bias are also major factors in salary negotiations. Think you’re being paid less than your male counterparts? It’s easier to find out than most companies think.

First, make sure you and a co-worker are actually doing the same job. Sometimes a co-worker is doing other things you may not be aware of, such as working overtime or taking on special projects. But all things being equal, here are five ways to find out if you’re getting paid less than the boys and less than you’re worth.

1. Check out Know Your Worth at Glassdoor. Know Your Worth is a salary calculator that will determine your market value based on education, experience, work hours, and more. After providing your information, Know Your Worth will come up with a number that is approximately how much someone just like you should be earning. Getting paid far less? It may be time to have a conversation with the boss and hire a headhunter.

2. Another salary calculator is available at Salary.com. Input personal information and the program will analyze the market for you and deliver a personal salary report. Salary.com also features a Salary Wizard that determines cost of living and typical benefits to determine both your salary and what extras you should be receiving.

3. Hire a headhunter. This choice is particularly helpful if you think you’ll be looking for a new job soon. Not only can a headhunter help you find new employment, it’s their job to analyze your resume and pull out details like impressive accomplishments, extra hours you worked, educational details, and other great things about you that you may not be putting on your resume. Improving your resume can help you get a better paying job.

They also know exactly what others doing your job are making in your area and can help you with salary negotiations, which are far more important than you may think. Your initial salary and qualifications when you first start with a company can determine if you get raises, how much, and how often you get promoted. We ladies are notorious for accepting the first low ball offer that comes our way.

4. Check out job boards. Job search boards such as IndeedMonster, and ZipRecruiters are popular places to look for a new job. More than half the time, the company offering the job will state the salary in the job ad. That’s a great way to figure out whether you’re making the going rate in your area. If others doing the same thing are being paid, or being offered, more than you, it’s time to discuss your salary with your boss and/or find a new job.

5. The easiest way to find out how you measure up is simply to come right on out and ask your co-workers. The problem is most people are very secretive about how much they earn. They don’t want their salary to get around and they may be afraid of why you’re asking. And some companies have policies against discussing salaries.

Asking someone you just met or someone you don’t have a strong relationship with at work is probably not going to be productive. If you have friends at work or co-workers with whom you’re very comfortable, asking privately may be the best place to start. Even those who normally would be uncomfortable ponying up that kind of information may do so if you tell them, “I’m asking because I’m concerned there may be gender and racial based disparities in pay at our company.” If you do get an answer, keeping that person’s identity private is your responsibility during negotiations with your boss.

Always talk to your boss first and give the company an opportunity to correct their error. If nothing changes or you’re fired for pointing out the salary difference, you do have legal recourse. How do you go about discussing a raise with your boss? That’s a whole other blog.