Pamela Anderson on MeToo


Pamela Anderson Criticized #MeToo. Was She Wrong To Do So?

There’s always room for constructive critiques for any movement. In fact, if there’s anyone that should have a voice in the critiquing of the #MeToo movement it should be women. There are women—Hollywood celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan and writers like Katie Roiphe and Daphne Merkin—that have been critical. But are they focusing on the wrong points?

In the New York Times Opinion section, Daphne Merkin asks, “What about women’s agency?”, asking why it is that adult women seem to helplessly acquiesce to sexual demands in the workplace. Lohan less eloquently posits that the movement “makes women look weak.” Most recently, on Australia's 60 Minutes, Anderson pointed out that survivors avoid accountability, and asked about what choices women could make to keep themselves safe. “My mother told me don’t go to a hotel with a stranger,” she said. "And if someone answers the door in a bathrobe and it's supposed to be a business meeting, maybe I should go with somebody else. I think that some things are just common sense."
Bringing attention specifically to the threatening power structures of Hollywood, and the cost of fame, wasn't Tarana Burke's original mission.
When Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, began her mission to help girls who were survivors of sexual assault in Selma, Alabama, the hashtag #MeToo wasn’t a part of the American lexicon relating to sexual assault. These were girls from marginalized communities—low-income, LGBT, black women and men, Latin, disabled—with limited access to therapists and support. The hashtag came from allowing them to share their stories, informing them what constitutes sexual abuse, statutory rape and street harassment and having them understand that they weren’t alone. When it was quickly embraced by Hollywood elites, it morphed into a rallying cry for women in the entertainment industry who were mostly sexually harassed or otherwise unfairly paid or treated. And for that it has been largely successful, garnering real consequences for abusers. 
But bringing attention specifically to the threatening power structures of Hollywood, and the cost of fame, wasn't Burke's original mission. Burke wanted young women to understand the spectrum of harassment and to understand that allowing harassment to thrive creates a culture that allows sexual violence to happen.

The critiques of the movement by women who get the most attention revolve mostly around the nuance of women’s sexuality, agency and workplace harassment. Issues like cheating with a colleague and men inappropriately making passes are important nuances that companies have to grapple with. Roiphe interviewed a number anonymous sources that were women critical of the movement for Harper’s Magazine. They were interviewed anonymously because they feared backlash—mostly from other women. Roiphe was criticized before even writing the piece. One anonymous source opined in Roiphe’s story, “What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American justice system: the presumption of innocence.”

Two things are true: the critiques should continue and the movement needs to broaden publicly to include a wider scope of women affected by sexual harassment and violence—sex workers, marginalized women (black, brown, LGTBQIA, disabled) and women that work in places where there is no Human Resource Department. That is, only if the movement is willing to move beyond the image it has morphed into. 

The point where the movement has succeeded the most is in having these discussions that in turn have begun to destigmatize survivors and create a new culture where silence isn’t the norm. There’s no need to silence women now.

Explore Categories