With the rise of the #MeToo movement in October 2017, women began to feel more empowered to speak up about sexual harassment that they experienced, especially in the workplace. As a result, there was a large increase in the number of legal actions taken to punish those who had perpetrated such crimes. However, among those legal cases, the percentage of spurious accusations has also gone up.
Discrimination Against Unprotected Groups
Only 17% of sexual assault allegations are brought forward by men, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Here society faces the situation where better protection of one group in society can lead to unfair treatment of the other. The consequences can vary from dismissal to jail sentence. Men’s rights movements in India serve as a great example of a defensive reaction against the rise of #MeToo and similar movements. If the trend continues, there is an expectation of more protests like those witnessed in India.
The obligation to create diversity in the workplace has created confusion in what should be the actual key criteria when interviewing candidates. Recent years have seen an increase in the priority of race, gender, and disability of a candidate when compared to the professional experience and skills of an individual. White men with no disability may easily be underrepresented for not falling into any of the protected categories. This is an example of an incorrect imposition of liberal values, or as some would simply call it, positive discrimination. By trying to promote the rights of minority groups, there is a risk of discrimination against the majority. Pew Research Center interviewed men on the subject of discrimination in the tech industry, and 19% claimed that they had experienced discrimination. The participants argued that qualification matters less and less, while gender and race define one’s career success.
Limiting Freedom of Speech
With the introduction of various bans on offensive words, there is a chance that society might be undermining freedom of speech. It is becoming dangerous to express one’s opinion and thoughts on certain cases, as one could easily be accused of discrimination, offensive behaviour, intolerance or being unprofessional. Excessive defence of liberalism creates a threat to the fundamental principles of freedom of speech. By speaking up against discrimination in the workplace to defend the rights of a white male, somebody can be easily seen as intolerant, discriminating, and illiberal. By trying to defend those who are potentially mistakenly accused of sexual harassment, one may be considered as someone who does not support women’s right and underestimates the scale of the sexual assault problem. With all these tags one may incur by speaking freely, individuals would often prefer to stay silent rather than express their disagreement.
As liberal values gain increasing influence in some parts of the world, it is vital to remember that the intention to bring good to society can also have negative externalities. Conflicting parties will always experience different effects of new ideas and the hardest challenge for people at all times is to find the right balance.