I have now had dozens of conversations about #MeToo with women my age or older, all of which are some variant on “What the hey?” It’s not that we’re opposed to #MeToo; we are overjoyed to see slime like Harvey Weinstein flushed out. But we see sharp distinctions between Weinstein and guys who press aggressively for sex. To women in their 20s, it seems that distinction is invisible.
There’s something else we notice: These women express a feeling of overwhelming powerlessness, even though they are not being threatened. How has the most empowered generation of women in history come to feel less control over their bodies than their grandmothers did?
Let me propose a possible answer, suggested by a very smart social scientist of my acquaintance: They feel this way because we no longer have any moral language for talking about sex except consent. So when men do things they feel are wrong, we’re left flailing for some way to describe this as non-consensual, even when she agreed to the sex.