Trump's 'mere allegation' tweet reflects complexity of #MeToo movement
Headlines about White House staff members losing their positions aren’t really “news” at this point in the administration's duration, but the recent departure of secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter James Sorenson after allegations of domestic abuse merits genuine attention. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday, Feb. 10, with his take on what he seems to see as a continuation of the political landscape we’ve been living in since The New York Times published the original accusations against Harvey Weinstein back in October.
"Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation," the tweet reads. "Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recover for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"
Trump’s fear that “lives are being shattered” and that “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused" isn’t unique to himself. Since the conception of #MeToo, some people have been concerned that the movement would (or already has) hurt innocent men with false accusations. It’s not an impossible prospect. Women aren’t members of some sisterly hive mind willing to put aside our personal motives for a better world, and the U.S. already has a long history of white women making false rape accusations against black men, so it wouldn’t be an unprecedented concept. The argument that follows usually comes down to whether it’s worse to falsely accuse men or to ignore real victims. Consensus is as divided as you would expect and usually skips over the obvious conclusion—no one actually wants the #MeToo campaign to be the last word in gender politics.
It’s great that victims have felt empowered enough by the bravery of others to come forward against past abusers, but the end goal is creating a culture where people can expect to get justice for crimes when they happen. Reputations have suffered and wealth has decreased, but actual legal consequences? Even in the original case of Weinstein, who has such a long list of accusers that seemingly no one in Hollywood was willing to deny his decades of sexual harassment, there still haven’t been any actual criminal charges. Not to mention that though the loss of his company and the divorce settlement with Georgina Chapman has certainly cost him more money than most people will see over their whole lives, the lowest estimate I’ve seen for his 2018 net worth is $50 million.
So even after being “shattered,” it looks like Weinstein’s life is still going to be considerably cushier than that of the majority of men who aren’t habitual predators with dozens of victims. The men we’re seeing publicly accused on a national scale are wealthy and powerful enough that for a long time, any tangible justice against them has been hard to come by. Even the accusations made over the course of the #MeToo movement, which many have argued is creating devastating consequences, can seem to fall short in this regard. Kevin Spacey might have been dropped from plenty of projects following the many allegations made against him, but even if he never acts again, he’s already made enough money off of projects like "House of Cards," "The Usual Suspects" and "American Beauty" that his greatest concern for the future would be getting bored.
So yes, it is possible that innocent men are being found guilty in the public arena while real abusers haven’t even been brought to the courtroom. It’s certainly true that the world Trump wants to return to pressured victims into never standing up to their abusers at all. There aren’t “clean” solutions to society-spanning problems that have been around since the beginning of our civilization. The world doesn’t become a better place if we step back. It’s debatable whether stepping back is a possibility at this point at all. #MeToo is calling attention to a problem that desperately needs a solution. It isn’t a fix, it’s just a first step. If we want real justice, then the only thing we can do is move forward.