What #Metoo Is Really About

Henry Kissinger
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said power is “the ultimate aphrodisiac.” (AP Photo)

This article was originally published at Washington Examiner.

On Oct. 28, 1973, Henry Kissinger was quoted in The New York Times as saying power is “the ultimate aphrodisiac.” Kissinger’s observation about sex and power was well known and accepted in his day. Americans understood that some men use their financial power to get what they want, and some women use their sexual power to get what they want. Much of the dance men and women do, in other words, is a give and take. Certainly the relationship can be abused, but it’s typically the exception rather than the rule.

Such thinking is hard to imagine in the age of #MeToo, a movement that blames men and masculinity as inherently toxic — as if God (or nature, if you prefer) made a colossal mistake in creating man.

This is a canard, of course. At the root of sexual harassment isn’t flawed biology but power run amok. In other words, Kissinger was right. And the latest #MeToo case — in which Avital Ronell, a female professor at New York University, was found responsible for sexually harassing a male former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman — proves it.

“An 11-month Title IX investigation found Professor Ronell, described by a colleague as “one of the very few philosopher-stars of this world,” responsible for sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, to the extent that her behavior was “sufficiently pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of Mr. Reitman’s learning environment,” writes Zoe Greenberg of The New York Times. What should our response be when the gender tables are turned in a sexual harassment claim? Call femininity toxic?

That’ll never happen. Feminists are the ones leading the #MeToo movement, and they would never blame a woman for anything. “Soon after the university made its final, confidential determination this spring,” adds Greenberg, “a group of scholars from around the world, including prominent feminists, sent a letter to N.Y.U. in defense of Professor Ronell. ‘Although we have no access to the confidential dossier, we have all worked for many years in close proximity to Professor Ronell,’ the professors wrote in a draft letter posted on a philosophy blog in June. ‘We have all seen her relationship with students, and some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her.'”

Such unbridled support is hardly a surprise — feminists will always come to the defense of the woman in question. Whether she’s the perpetrator or the victim is beside the point.

That’s why #MeToo will never be recognized for what it’s really about (power) because blaming power doesn’t serve their agenda. Power is what these folks want. And to get it, they have to take men down in the process. That’s why they bill the movement as male aggression unleashed.Fortunately, this latest story proves that just isn’t true, and I suspect more will be coming. There will always be people in power, male or female, who use their position to get what they want. They’re bullies.

And neither sex has the lock on being a bully.

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Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, a coach, and a podcast host committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.