Here are some of the complaints that have been made about the #MeToo movement as it has expanded and become a subject of debate: It is irrational. It is overly angry. It is insufficiently orderly, insufficiently tidy, insufficiently complacent. It takes up too much space. It does not know its place.
In short, many of the criticisms of #MeToo—and many of the demands critics have made of the movement—have mirrored the criticisms that have been made of women in general, when they have attempted to argue for a better place in a culture that has looked down on them. The complaints resolve, often, into a unified and overarching critique: that #MeToo is not only divisive, but also divided. That, being structurally unsound, it will eventually—and inevitably—implode.
This is not a new critique. In fact, it is a very old critique. As the journalist and author Rebecca Traister pointed out during an event at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, “We have been taught the history of feminism as a fundamentally divided movement.”
“A majority of the population having to work together where all of the other biases and privileges come into play?” she said. “Of course it is divided. It is by its nature and its definition going to be divided.” Take the racism of the women’s suffrage movement, and of the women’s movement. Take the disagreements between the radical feminists and the liberal feminists. Take the debates within second-wave feminism over queer rights. Take … so many other disagreements within so many other movements.