TODAY'S PAPER
42° Good Morning
42° Good Morning
OpinionColumnistsMichael Dobie

The staying power of #MeToo

Hashtag campaign has become more than just an activist moment.

People carry signs addressing the issue of sexual

People carry signs addressing the issue of sexual harassment at a #MeToo rally earlier this month outside of Trump International Hotel in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stephanie Keith

The number of powerful well-known men accused of sexual abuse or harassment grows daily. So does the number of those suffering consequences.

There is no stronger, more vigorous movement in America today than #MeToo.

Fashion photographer Terry Richardson, chef Mario Batali, restaurateur Ken Friedman.

This is a remarkable moment. Because coming forward and speaking up is wrenchingly difficult. The calculus for every woman is different. But the likelihood that one’s voice will be heard — now much more than before — has encouraged more women to tell their stories. Nothing demonstrates that like repercussions for abusers. And it’s happening. Men are being investigated, fired, suspended, forced to resign and defeated in elections.

The more that happens, the less worry there is about the staying power of #MeToo.

Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Blake Farenthold.

That’s why the defeat of Roy Moore in last week’s Senate election in Alabama was so important. He was on track to win until nine women, inviting more abuse and scorn, accused him of sexual misconduct when most were teens and he was in his 30s. His loss was validation that others had listened.

New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza, venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, Morgan Stanley managing director Harold Ford Jr.

Movements like #MeToo lose steam when the tension that created them dissipates. Exit polls from the Moore election suggests that won’t happen soon.

Some 66 percent of mothers who have children in their household under 18 voted for Doug Jones, Moore’s foe. Only 41 percent of fathers did the same. That says some men still aren’t getting it or don’t care and that many women will continue to have fuel for their fire.

Sports doctor Larry Nassar, EPSN anchor John Buccigross, former NFL stars Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb, Heath Evans and Warren Sapp.

The sheer scope of the problem means this won’t be a fleeting phenomenon. A Pew Research Center survey found that 22 percent of U.S. women say they’ve been sexually harassed in the workplace and 42 percent say they’ve faced gender discrimination there. Other studies this fall put the percentage of women experiencing sexual harassment at 35 percent on the job and 54 percent overall. The grievance is both wide and deep.

Actor Dustin Hoffman (again), NBC’s Matt Lauer (again), Rep. Ruben Kihuen (again).

False accusations might sap some of #MeToo’s energy but would do nothing to mitigate all the truthful charges. And the number of women in Congress (21 in the Senate, 83 in the House, more are needed) and the thousands of energized women gearing up to run for political office at all levels across the country guarantee the public will have to continue to pay attention.

Music mogul Russell Simmons, PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, federal court Judge Alex Kozinski.

#MeToo won’t wither as long as the sexual harassment and abuse accusations against President Donald Trump are unresolved, continuing to stoke the anger, and as people like UN Ambassador Nikki Haley say the women should be heard. And it isn’t getting weaker when documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock outs himself for a long history of sexual misconduct, and when Texas’ associate deputy attorney general resigns after mocking the movement on Facebook.

These are only some of the men accused of sexual misconduct or paying some price for it in the last 10 days.

So, yes, #MeToo is likely to continue to be a force. It probably will play a role in the 2018 elections. More important, it seems certain to continue exposing the grievous wrongs done by men to women for generations. The real test:

Will it change the way men behave going forward?

Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.

Columns