#Himtoo has been co-opted by the Right as a way to preach about fearing false accusations of sexual misconduct. It originated with men who have been assaulted pursuing a way to discuss their past trauma without talking over womens’ use of #metoo. Now, it has become the hashtag for the antithesis of the #metoo movement.
This is not a new maneuver for the Right. Conservatism, by its nature, is about keeping things the same, or reverting to a previous “better time.” Resisting social change is paramount to the conservative ideology. When people demand change, the conservative response is simply to say, “No.” As we saw with political gridlock during the Obama administration, if you don’t accept their denial, they are more than happy to take their proverbial ball and go home. Now, the conservative right has power and the activist left is more active than it has been in the past decade.
The people using #himtoo do very little to address the problem of widespread harassment and assault faced by one-fourth of all women and one-sixth of men before the age of 18, according to The National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Instead, they focus on the tiny sliver of men who are falsely accused of rape. In a study done by The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2,059 sexual assault cases were evaluated and only 7.1 percent of those cases ended up being false. This tiny number of false cases makes it hard to believe that there is a “witch hunt” for men.
Despite overwhelming evidence that the number of actual assault cases greatly outweighs the number of false accusations, the Right would rather scream and shout about how “your son might be next,” than acknowledge that we have a problematic rape culture in this country.
#Himtoo is not the only social movement the Right has co-opted and reversed. They have taken Black Lives Matter, a movement to end police violence against African Americans and to address the institutional racism of the American prison system and turned it into Blue Lives Matter. When confronted with the realities of our legal system, saying that blue lives matter does nothing to address the problems in the system. Instead of addressing the problem at hand, the Right just says, “What about the cops?”
The idea that cops are in some way victims to Black Lives Matter is insane. The police hold a position of power in our society. To say that the police have been victimized by a movement that simply asks that they stop abusing their power at the expense of African Americans completely misses the point of what Black Lives Matter is trying to say.
This counter-strategy, unfortunately, works on some level. Despite the fact that false accusations are incredibly rare, the fear that you or your family could experience job loss or damage to your reputation if someone wants to lie about an assault has been sensationalized and exaggerated to the point where people are genuinely afraid. With minimum research into the subject, you realize that the fear is unfounded, but you wouldn’t think that from the conservative narrative on Fox News or social media.
With Blue Lives Matter, the conservative narrative has made it so that caring about the lives of black Americans means you are anti-cop. You cannot have a conversation about the issues that the Black Lives Matter movement wishes to talk about without being branded a revolutionary or an anarchist. This works to alienate liberals and centrists from the movement and politicizes the movement as a partisan issue.
America’s Right wing has made a habit of taking social movements and turning them around to attempt to punish and mock those who want to change society. Blue Lives Matter and #himtoo do not attempt to add to the conversation about systemic racism or sexual assault, but instead attempt to derail them and distract from it. They don’t combat the actual problem, but merely yell the opposite back in your face. The childish response of, “I know you are but what am I,” has grown up and become a political platform. Just wait until they start walking around with firearms in a March For Our Guns.