The fake feminism of the #MeToo backlash

Last Friday, Andrew Sullivan had the jaw-dropping gall to open his essay “It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo” with an anecdote about his accurate prediction of when the backlash would arrive. “A month or so ago, a friend and I mulled over when exactly the backlash to the then-peaking #MeToo moral panic would set in. Mid-January, we guessed, and sure enough here we are. No, we were not being clairvoyant,” he assured us.

No shit, Sullivan wasn’t being clairvoyant ― any more than I’m being clairvoyant to “guess” that I’ll drink an enormous glass of wine at the end of any given news day for the foreseeable future. One can’t be impressed with oneself for predicting one’s own actions, which in Sullivan’s case included bemoaning last Friday that “the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.” He claims to support the aims of #MeToo, if acceptably limited, but in reality he’s been waiting in the wings to tear it down at the opportune moment.

And now we seem to be in that moment. The sneering and — hm, what’s the word? — hysteria from men determined to protect their own hegemonic power is uninteresting. It would be far more befuddling were an assortment of men like Matt Damon and Andrew Sullivan not to defend their fellow white male power players against a barrage of damaging sexual misconduct allegations.