A representative sentiment was expressed by a Trump administration official explaining why the president would not back down from the nomination: “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something.”
This is the language of masculine solidarity and an emerging men’s identity politics. It reveals both a genuine anxiety — a sense of unsettledness, of not knowing where one stands one moment to the next — and a rhetorical strategy — positioning the president as the defender of men’s dignity. This strategy is based on two assumptions: that #MeToo anxiety is widely shared by men and, more potently, that men who do not share this anxiety will still feel solidarity with those who do because of their shared identity not just as men, but as victims of what is perceived to be an anti-male culture. It is the photo negative of feminism.
The promise of the #MeToo movement was a new equilibrium between men and women. There was hope that the revelation of widespread abuse and harassment, previously endured privately and silently, would allow the social-sexual “marketplace” to rebalance as men gave up certain privileges they barely realized they had in order to account for this new reality.