A popular campaign to raise awareness about sexual assault is being used as a “status symbol” by women, a Breitbart writer has claimed.
Speaking on Breitbart radio, columnist John Nolte criticised the #metoo movement, which encourages people who have been sexually assaulted or harassed to post “me too” as a Facebook status or tweet.
“It’s like the AIDS ribbon,” Mr Nolte said of the hashtag. “You know, I feel very bad for these women, but it’s sort of becoming a status symbol.”
He added: “None of these women so far have named names – and I’m fine, if they want to say, listen I’ve talked to the police. If they want to say that, I’m fine with that.”
Studies have shown that survivors often do not report harassment because they fear retaliation from their abuser – or from their employer, if the incident happened at work. And some of these fears are well-founded: One study of public-sector employees found two-thirds of workers who complained about mistreatment later reported some form of retaliation.
For these reasons and others, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that only 15.8 to 35 per cent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police.
The “me too” campaign – which was started to illustrate the magnitude of the issue – has generated hundreds of thousands of tweets, statuses, and Instagram posts in the three days since it began.
The campaign sprung up in the wake of allegations that Harvey Weinstein, a venerated film producer, sexually harassed several of the women with whom he worked. Mr Weinstein has said that all sexual relations were consensual and his legal team have called other allegations “false”.
The revelation set off a larger discussion about sexism and sexual abuse in Hollywood, and inspired a number of actresses to come forward with their own stories. Mr Nolte, however, called the discussion “BS” and claimed that if people really cared about the issue, they would call an outside investigator.
“What’s so funny is that there’s more women running Hollywood now than ever before, and this problem is still there,” Mr Nolte added. “So the answer is not more women in power.”
Women comprised just 7 per cent of all directors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016, according to a study from San Diego State’s Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Women also accounted for just 13 per cent of writers, 17 per cent of executive producers, and 24 per cent of producers.
Jordan Horowitz, producer of last year’s hit musical “La La Land,” recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the need for more women in Hollywood leadership roles.
“When you have a number of women in roles of authority, you just wind up with a more comfortable and safe set for women and for any number of underrepresented groups of people,” he said.