Education

Harvard Law Professor Says #MeToo Is A Danger To Consensual Relationships

Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet argues that the #MeToo movement, made popular on social media after numerous high-profile media men were exposed as sexual predators, ignores the “principles of basic fairness” because it presumes guilt.

The professor, who teaches civil liberties and family law, says that despite #MeToo’s ability to bring predators to light, due process may be in danger of being thrown out.

In the rush to discard the possibility of innocence, men accused of sexual misconduct now face an immediate guilty sentence in the court of public opinion.

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Writing for the Harvard Crimson, Bartholet says that due to the current social climate, “men and women are put at risk for personal conduct that may be essential if they are to have the chance to develop future relationships.”

“In the recent rush to judgment, principles of basic fairness, differences between proven and merely alleged instances of misconduct, and important distinctions between different kinds of sexually charged conduct have too often been ignored,” Bartholet says, as first reported by Campus Reform.

“Some argue that women who speak out should simply always be believed,” says the professor. “Others argue that if some innocent men must be sacrificed to the cause of larger justice, so be it. I find this deeply troubling.”

Bartholet says that “efforts must be made to investigate what actually happened and how the different parties understood the events.”

The professor also warns over allegations that stem from “over-expansive definitions of wrongful conduct.”

Recently, male feminist actor Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual assault. However, the salacious allegation prompted a swift backlash across the political spectrum because of the arguably over-expansive definition used by his accuser. HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield called it a “bad date” — an opinion echoed across both independent and mainstream publications by women who say that calling it an assault diminished actual instances of rape.

Speaking to Campus Reform, the professor says she decided to speak up after witnessing the rise of unfair sexual harassment policies at Harvard Law that “ignored fairness to the accused, and went too far to shut down romantic and sexual conduct that was consensual.”

Bartholet also observed parallels between #MeToo and the ongoing campus rape scare, which has led to the creation of Title IX rules — slammed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as an “unraveling of justice.”

“Conduct that is entirely consensual is equated with sexual violence,” says Bartholet.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.