I Am Out of Whack

I’m absolutely flummoxed. New poll numbers reported in The Economist make me wonder how I got so out of whack with what most people are thinking. Am I missing something?metoo backlash economist

Here’s what we know: According to The Economist,

this year-long storm of allegations, confessions and firings has actually made Americans more sceptical [sic–wacky Brits] about sexual harassment.

With only one categorical exception, it appears the respondents in the Economist poll tend to feel more suspicious today about women who complain about sexual harassment than they did last year. Only Clinton voters, that is, are more likely today to think that twenty-year-old harassment accusations are worth acting upon. And even those Clinton voters are more likely now to think that false accusations are a bigger problem than unreported assaults, and that women’s complaints cause more problems than they solve.

Can I really be this out of touch with majority opinion? In my imagination, at least, the last year has provided a public coming-to-terms with the dangers and demons of sexual harassment. It has forced all of us to reckon with old demons of frat-boy antics and glib sexual aggression.

But unless I’m reading this wrong, my sense of how my fellow Americans are feeling is not even close to reality. Can someone please explain this to me?

1.) How is it possible that more people are more suspicious of women’s accusations than of men’s aggressive actions? And

2.) What was it in the past year that made people feel this way?

Leave a comment


  1. People may have seen this as a poll that was implicitly about Kavanaugh.

    • That’s what it seems like to me as well. And I absolutely understand why the “20 years” question would resonate that way with self-identified Trump voters. But the other results–especially among self-identified Clinton voters–is what really puzzles me.

  2. Marcy Froemke

     /  October 26, 2018

    This makes me sick. Madness!

  3. Agellius

     /  October 26, 2018

    I could be just as out of whack as you in assessing the views of my fellow citizens, but my guess is that people are uncomfortable with the “Believe Women” movement. It just opens the doors wide for a witch hunt. If you think about it, that’s exactly how witch hunts worked – at least according to TV and movies, which, let’s face it, is how a lot of people get their ideas about the world: Someone is accused of being a witch and assumed guilty until proven innocent, and if a whole village gets hysterical over it, then anyone and everyone had better be very, very afraid lest someone accuse him or her, on grounds however flimsy. People don’t want that to be the real world.

    Encourage victims to speak out, by all means. But innocent until proven guilty still needs to be the order of the day.

    The “20 years ago” thing, I think is related to the same instinct that makes people want to relax drug laws and three strike laws. They believe in second chances. They don’t like the idea of a life being ruined because of bad decisions made in one’s youth, especially if you’ve been living right since then. This would be uncontroversial if we were talking about theft or drug use. I guess we assume that sexual harassers are incorrigible?

    Regarding the “Women complaining about sexual harassment” one, note that the question doesn’t say whether the woman’s complaint is true or false. If they had use the term “true complaint”, maybe the results would have been different. As it is they’re lumping all complaints together.

  4. The questions and categories are all politicized, and the results are distorted.

    Anyone who comes forward is going to become a political football. Our country has ensured that people who report in this environment will be caught in the crossfire. There is no good way to deal with sexual harassment and assault at a time when our society is so bitterly divided. It’s not about sexual harassment or assault at all. It’s about politics. It’s the survey that is out of whack.


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