After four senators released their own #MeToo stories of sexual harassment and assault, a guest on NBC's Meet the Press said that while she believes sexual harassment is certainly something some women suffer from, she doesn't think that the stories are part of a major cultural change in American society. In fact, Danielle Pletka said the sexual harassment stories that women are sharing right now are part of a "war on men."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota were part of a video released by Meet the Press in which they shared #MeToo moments in their lives. On a segment discussing the video, host Chuck Todd asked Pletka, "You heard from those senators, and I believe it was Sen. Heitkamp who said it needs to be cultural change? Are we in a culture — is this a major moment in our culture, Danielle?" She replied:
I have no doubt that sexual harassment is real and that many women suffer from it. But I have a strong suspicion that this is yet another one in a series of -isms and complaints and grievances in our society that are used as wedges, that are used as bludgeons, that are part of a, frankly, what many men feel is a war on men, certainly in universities.
"So, do we need a cultural change?" Pletka continued.
If women want to stand up for themselves, women should stand up for themselves for equal treatment. And if that means that someone's going to harass them, they should stand up and call them out. This whole, 'Me too, I want to get on the gravy train. Harvey Weinstein looked at me meanly too, but I didn't have the guts, Gwenyth Paltrow, to stand up and do anything about it.' I'm not really into that.
Pletka is the senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, which describes itself as a "public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world." The Center for Media and Democracy asserts that AEI is a "right-wing" think tank.
In the #MeToo video that the Meet the Press segment was discussing, the four senators talked about the times they had been harassed and assaulted by men while working in politics. McCaskill said the Missouri state House speaker asked her "did you bring your knee pads?" when she was wondering the best way to get her first bill out of committee. Heitkamp, who has worked to stop domestic violence said she was speaking at an event when a man came up to her and said, "Listen here, men will always beat their wives and you can't stop them." Warren said that a senior faculty member at her first teaching job literally tried to grab her. "He's chasing me around the desk trying to get his hands on me," she said.
Many people online were infuriated by Pletka's comments, saying they believed she is blaming sexual harassment and assault victims for not speaking out earlier and condoning men's actions by saying women are jumping on the "gravy train." Bustle has reached out to Pletka for comment.
"Why They Don't"
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While Pletka feels that it's the #MeToo stories that are divisive "wedges," others' reactions prove they think it's comments like hers that create divisions.