The feminist movement’s public relations problem does not exist only among conservatives. (Nor is its biggest problem exclusively one of public relations.) Case in point, actress Megan Fox said in a Dec. 7 interview that she’s declined to share her personal Me Too experiences for fear of “victim-sham[ing]” from feminists.
Here’s what Fox told The New York Times:
Even with the #MeToo movement, and everyone coming out with stories — and one could assume that I probably have quite a few stories, and I do — I didn’t speak out for many reasons. I just didn’t think based on how I’d been received by people, and by feminists, that I would be a sympathetic victim. And I thought if ever there were a time where the world would agree that it’s appropriate to victim-shame someone, it would be when I come forward with my story.
The Times interviewer prompted Fox to respond to a Mary Sue article published a year ago that asked in its headline, “So … When Are We All Going to Apologize to Megan Fox for What We Let Hollywood Do to Her?”
“[W]hy didn’t feminists commend her for standing up to as well-known and documented a pig as Michael Bay?” the author inquired back in November of 2017. “Because she’s not the right type of victim.”
Fox is obviously eccentric, and not easily categorized. Indeed, later in her interview with the Times, Fox explained the decision to keep her Me Too stories private is also rooted in a feeling that it’s not her “job to punish someone because they did something bad to me.” Fair enough.
I don’t know how feminists actually would have handled new Me Too allegations made by Fox, who, by the way, happens to be one of the most successful actresses of the last decade. But with history as her guide, Fox wasn’t wrong to anticipate a less-than-warm embrace.
All this is to say, there are real consequences to the feminist movement’s exclusionary tactics beyond stoking the ire of conservatives. In light of her celebrity, Fox’s case is certainly unique, but she’s far from alone in feeling alienated. Women who diverge at all from progressive dogma don’t feel supported by the people professionally dedicated to the cause of sexual equality. That’s a problem.
A poll released in August found a full 54 percent of millennial women don’t consider themselves feminists. Given the movement’s deficiencies, we can debate whether that statistic is good or bad. But women still need advocates, and on matters that transcend politics.
It would be great if the one movement focused specifically on sexual equality didn’t make just about every effort to alienate the people outside its shrinking ranks. A broader, more inclusive women’s movement is better than one limited by a narrow coalition. But we’re almost certainly past the point of no return on that one.