The rise of #MeToo and its reach shocked the world after a viral tweet from actress Alyssa Milano took more than a decade-old concept and made it a movement. But as with all movements, while some rushed to support #MeToo, many others pushed back and got left behind — most notably, conservative women.
Being conservative does not exclude or protect women from the sexual harassment and violence that #MeToo targets.
While #MeToo can have its dark side, the principles that guide it are ideas that conservatives can and should support.
By far the most important feature of the #MeToo movement is its decentralized message.
Unlike other movements, like The Women’s March, #MeToo lacks good or bad figureheads. It instead relies on the universality of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
It also makes #MeToo far more personal and less ideological because there is not a bureaucratic group or committee deciding who can and cannot be a part of the movement or defining experiences.
#MeToo is also not inherently antithetical to conservative ideals.
It is not a movement that proffers up solutions, which can often be divisive and partisan. It focuses on the problem and the dialogue around that issue, creating a space where women and men can discuss what would protect and help victims.
The movement is sometimes criticized by conservatives. It is owned by Hollywood elites. It puts men at risk of false accusations and more.
These are valid concerns, but they exist beyond the scope of the core ideas of #MeToo.
A poll from The Economist found that Republican women over 65 were by far the most hostile group to the #MeToo movement, with 42 percent saying that false accusations were worse than unreported assaults.
These are women who have grown sons who they fear for. These same women also have a tolerance for behavior that their younger counterparts find reprehensible, perhaps because these conversations did not happen sooner.
Conservatives need to recognize that empowering women to share their stories is an issue of free speech and self-determination.
In the same ways that conservatives find comfort in community, #MeToo created a community for women to share those experiences and heal and respond.
Being conservative isn’t mutually exclusive to supporting women.
Aida Vazquez-Soto is a senior majoring in political science and economics.