The effects of the #MeToo movement and other actions to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace have started to fade rapidly among men with a sharp drop in those who consider it a “major problem.” Many men believe that people have become overly sensitive to the issue and that sexual harassment does not deserve the amount of attention it has been given.
A new Gallup poll shows that the harassment of women in the workplace is only seen as a major problem by 53% of men questioned last month. This is down from 66% in October 2017. One incident that was among the roots of the #MeToo movement involved press reports about movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s harassment of large numbers of women. This was first disclosed in early October 2017. And it was on top of a long-term problem with pay, which is that the gender gap could take a century to close.
The #MeToo movement eventually spread so that it included harassment of men. In one piece of research, over four out of 10 men said they had been harassed. The overall problem has caused some companies to change their policies about how sexual harassment is identified and treated in the workplace. Some states have moved to toughen laws.
At the same time, many groups that have fought to see #MeToo change specific workplace rules believe that the movement has not come nearly far enough. The authors of one large study bemoaned the speed at which new work rules have been very widely adopted. Whether this is because the movement has lost momentum is not clear.
Another trend Gallup found was a rise in men who think that sexual harassment has become too large an issue. In October 2017, 33% of men believed people in the workplace where “too sensitive.” That rose to 45% last month.
The changing attitudes men have toward sexual harassment vary widely by age group, Gallup found. The percentage of men under 50 who believe people are too sensitive to harassment in the workplace was 71% in October 2017 and has fallen to 55%. Among men over 50, the figure has fallen from 59% to 49%.
|Oct 2017||Feb 2019||Difference|
|Men younger than 50||71%||55%||−16%|
|Men aged 50+||59%||49%||−10%|
|Women younger than 50||74%||72%||−2%|
|Women aged 50+||72%||69%||−3%|
While the results of the Gallup research will be distressing among many who support the #MeToo cause, there has been some progress. Gallup concludes, “Less than a year and a half after the #Metoo movement took America by storm, men in the U.S. have become less likely to say that sexual harassment is a major problem in the workplace and that people in the workplace are not sensitive enough to it. Despite the overall declines on both measures since 2017, most Americans, including a majority of men, still think workplace sexual harassment is a major problem.”