By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Women are more likely to view the #MeToo movement favorably than men (61 percent to 39 percent), but the biggest divide occurs along party lines. Sixty-three percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the movement. Among Republicans, that number falls to 20 percent.
Whether you view the #MeToo movement favorably or unfavorably depends more on your political leanings than your gender, according to new data from the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy.
A nationally representative survey by the Lewisburg, Pa.,-based university found that of the respondents, 41 percent view it favorably and 21 percent view it unfavorably. Thirty-eight percent said they have no opinion or have never heard of it.
If you’re reading this, 38-percenters, #MeToo is a decades-old movement founded by activist Tarana Burke to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault. It gained renewed attention in October after allegations of serial harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein were made public, opening the floodgates for women and men across multiple industries to come forward with their own survivor stories.
We’ve watched high-profile harassers tumble from their perches of power. We’ve witnessed painful conversations, previously limited to whispers, crescendo toward a collective shout. It’s impossible, really, to accurately quantify the various ripple effects of #MeToo.
This survey is a small (1,000 respondents) but interesting (I think) attempt to measure how the movement is playing with the public. Here’s what it finds:
Women are more likely to view the movement favorably than men (61 percent to 39 percent), but the biggest divide occurs along party lines. Sixty-three percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the movement. Among Republicans, that number falls to 20 percent. Thirty-seven percent of people who identify as Independents have a favorable view.
Female Democrats are most likely to have a favorable impression of the movement (71 percent). Republican women and men were tied at 20 percent.
“Differences in how Democrats and Republicans perceive #MeToo are as large or larger than differences they have on issues such as immigration, climate change, tax cuts or welfare,” Chris Ellis, associate professor of political science and director of the Bucknell Survey Research Laboratory, said in a statement. “#MeToo is maybe the clearest example yet of how our growing political culture war swallows up everything in its path.”
Forty percent of those surveyed think that the movement has “gone too far,” with men (47 percent) more likely than women (34 percent) to hold that view. Just 18 percent of Democratic women and 19 percent of Democratic men think #MeToo has gone too far, while 66 percent of Republican women and 75 percent of Republican men believe that.
Close to 90 percent of surveyed respondents say #MeToo is “very” or “somewhat” likely to lead workplaces to craft stricter definitions of sexual harassment.
Sixty-four percent of respondents think men will be less willing to mentor women in the workplace since #MeToo. Republican men are most likely to hold that belief (92 percent), followed by 80 percent of Republican women. Fifty-seven percent of Democratic men and 45 percent of Democratic women think #MeToo will cause a decrease in men mentoring women.
A majority of respondents (56 percent) think it’s “somewhat” or “very” likely that #MeToo will contribute to segregation of men and women in the workplace. Republican men (87 percent) and women (73 percent) are most likely to think segregation will be a #MeToo offshoot, compared with 48 percent of Democratic men and 37 percent of Democratic women.
Of course, social movements don’t need to be universally (or even widely) beloved to be effective. The #MeToo movement has empowered women and men, girls and boys, in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. That’s harder to measure than public perception.
Still, it will be a shame, and a lost opportunity, if some women and men respond to the last few months by avoiding each other at work, rather than working side-by-side as equals toward a common goal: a safe and just and successful workplace.
I think we’ll get there eventually. Especially if brave souls keep pushing us, even when it’s not popular.