Is the #MeToo Movement Leading to Vigilante Justice?

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, best known for her novel the Handmaid’s Tale, has recently gotten herself in trouble for comments that she made opposing the #metoo movement.

Primarily, Atwood’s concerns focused on where the #metoo movement is going, and how the accused will be treated by the general public. She cites a recent incident, involving professor and fellow author Steve Galloway, as a reason for her concern.

In 2015, Galloway was accused bullying and sexual harassment. This prompted members of the Canadian literary community, including Margaret Atwood, to stand behind him in support. Many then retracted this support, however, when further allegations came out – including bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Galloway was dismissed from the University of British Columbia, where he taught, but is facing no criminal charges.

Margaret Atwood claims that Galloway’s dismissal was unfair, and she fears that the #metoo movement will lead to vigilante justice.

Galloway, however, is not the only man to be dismissed from his job due to claims of sexual assault. In the media, we have seen this happen time and time again. Harvey Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company following allegations of sexual assault. Kevin Spacey was fired from television series House of Cards following similar allegations, and Louis C.K. was fired from Secret Life of Pets 2. So is this also unfair? Is this also an example of vigilante justice?

There have been some who would say so; who would say that, yes, these are bad men, but they are good at their job. They are talented artists (or, in Galloway’s case, professors), and they should be allowed to continue doing their jobs.

I disagree.

In Weinstein’s case, I feel the reason why he should be let go is fairly obvious; Weinstein’s job put him in a position of power, and a sexual predator can and will abuse that power – as Weinstein did again and again. His job is directly connected to his being a sexual predator – he wasn’t the right one for the role. He wasn’t the sort of person who would do that job without abusing it. He was, quite frankly, bad at his job.

And in the case of Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey, who were similarly put in a place of power and adoration and then abused that power, they are both part of industries that have no shortage of competition. There are hundreds of talented comedians and actors in this world who deserve their shot at the job – comedians and actors who don’t happen to be sexual predators.

But let’s talk about Galloway for a moment, because the thing that I find interesting about this particular story is that this is a profession that isn’t part of the media. This is a more everyday profession, and while Galloway most certainly does have a system of support and adoring fans, this is to a lesser extent than what a Hollywood celebrity has. This is moving more into the mundane.

And was Galloway’s dismissal from his job unfair? Was this an instance of vigilante justice?

Well, quite frankly, no. I don’t think it is. I think that, if a person is poorly qualified for their job, then they should not have their job. And a bullying sexual predator is not the right candidate for a professor.

There is another story that came out of Canada recently, this one focusing on George Brown college in Toronto, where several former students of the acting program have come forward to discuss suffering abuse, humiliation, and harassment from the faculty of the school. These are people who wanted nothing more than to pursue their dreams, to become qualified in the job that they so desperately wanted, and instead, they were belittled, picked apart, and abused to such an extent that it affected both their mental and physical health – and all of this was caused by the very people who were supposed to help them. This was caused by their professors.

Professors have a huge task to fulfill – as all teachers do. Professors are there to teach people. They are in control of their students’ grades and education and, yes, even their lives, to a certain extent. A bad professor can very easily hurt a person’s chance at getting the job that they are working so hard to get, or they can kill a person’s self-esteem and motivation.

And, yes, Galloway’s first victim to break her silence was, in fact, a former student.

But what about the fact that Galloway faced no criminal charges? Is he being punished for a crime that the law hasn’t recognized that he committed? Well, this is where the argument gets complicated.

Just because Galloway hasn’t been charged with anything, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he isn’t guilty. Out of every 1000 rape cases, after all, only 7 will lead to a felony conviction, and this is not because the majority of allegations are false. It is estimated that somewhere between 2% and 6% of allegations are false. So, yes, that does mean that the majority of sexual predators will go without any legal punishment for their crime.

Does that mean that we should turn to vigilante justice to fix this problem? No, that isn’t what I am trying to say here (although we do desperately need to fix a legal system that allows the vast majority of sexual predators to walk free and go unpunished). What I am trying to say is that the University of British Columbia is under no obligation to keep a man under their employ when all evidence points to the fact that he is not good at his job and should not be allowed to keep it – especially not when allowing him to keep his job would send a message to his victims that what he did to them was okay. And sexual assault is already a rampant problem in colleges and universities.

So, no, from what I have observed thus far, the #metoo movement is not leading toward vigilante justice. What the #metoo movement is creating is a society where sexual assault and sexual harassment is taken more seriously and discussed more prominently. There was once a time when a man like Galloway might have been allowed to keep his job, and continue to harass, assault, and bully students that are simply seeking an education. But times are changing, and we are no longer willing to accept these things. We are creating a world where a woman might be allowed to seek an education without fear of being treated differently or unfairly by her teacher.

And, hopefully, this influence can continue to spread to all industries.

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It Is Never Too Late To Discover Your Abilities

We as a society seem to preach a certain order to things, a flow that all lives are supposed to follow.

Get born. Spend the first six or seven years wanting to be a fairy or a race car driver or a a princess when you grow up. Decide that isn’t practical and move onto something that is. Dedicate your high school years to fine tuning that plan. Graduate, and go to college or university with your plan in mind. Achieve your practical plan, and get a job in that field. Work at that job until you’re dead.

And I think that most of us, once we actually set out on this path, began to realize that it just isn’t realistic. Or, at least, we do if the fact that 80 percent of students in the United States change their major at least once indicates anything. And then there are the kids who graduate from high school without a plan, the ones who were too busy or too young or too indecisive or too surrounded by outside influence to really know what they want to do.

I think most of us realize that it just isn’t realistic to expect kids to decide what to do with the entire rest of their lives, all in the most formative eighteen years of their lives. And yet, we continue to preach this order to kids. And, to a certain extent, we continue to expect this order of ourselves.

We feel let down by ourselves if we haven’t fully decided what we want to do by the age of eighteen. I know that when I realized, at the age of twenty-two, that I didn’t actually have a plan for a job that would pay enough to keep me alive, I felt like I was behind everyone else, that everyone else had already figured this out and here I was, still developing.

We feel as though we cannot change our minds later on in life, as though once we have decided on our job, then that’s it. This is our career forever.

I mean, statistics indicate that this just isn’t true anymore. The days of working at one business your entire life are apparently over, as some surveys indicate that the average person works at least four jobs by the age of thirty-two. But do these surveys matter to us? Apparently not, because I still hear people express regret at not having chosen a different path, not having sought out a certain job that they showed promise in at once point, but forewent for one reason or another.

We act as though there is a script to our lives, and we have no choice but to follow it. Yet, this has never really made sense to me, because it is far from the truth.

I mean, sure, there are some obstacles that might get in the way of our dreams. Perhaps a physical disability might make being an NFL player difficult, and perhaps going back to school will be difficult if you have only enough money to keep you and your family alive.

But at the same time, there are often ways to do the things you love, in one way or another, whether it be seeking out a sports team made for people with disability or applying for scholarships or whatever the case may be.

And, more than that, I have even heard these lamentations made by people who have absolutely nothing standing in their way besides themselves.

If you want to switch careers, and you have the means to do so, then do it! If you want to start writing a book despite having never done so before, then now is as good a chance to start as ever!

The reason why we do not do these things is not because we can’t; it’s because we accept that we can’t. We say that we want to do something, and everyone around us says, “why? Isn’t that difficult? Are you sure it’s practical?” and so we do not do it. We tell ourselves that it’s impossible, and so it becomes impossible for us.

But if we gave it a try, we might be surprised. I mean, sure, things might not work out for us, but maybe they do. We won’t know for sure until we try.

So long as you are still alive, anything remains possible. We preach a simple script to ourselves and to our peers, but that script does not exist. We are limitless. We are capable. And it is never too late for us to discover our abilities.

Who Has The Time?

The March Hare: The time! The time! Who’s got the time?

In high school, it was simple: wake up, go to school, hang out with friends, go to work, go on dates, do homework, hang out with parents, take some breaks for mental health, volunteer because it looks better on university applications, be active, eat, sleep for eight hours. Wake up, repeat. And if you don’t do every last thing on that list, then you’re slacking off. You aren’t doing well enough. What are you doing? You need to get up, smarten up, think about the future, what are you going to do if you fail at one of these things? What sort of adult are you going to be?

Do you even care about your future?

Mad Hatter: If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.

Alice: I don’t know what you mean.

Mad Hatter: Of course you don’t! I dare say you never even spoke to Time!

Alice: Perhaps not, but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.

Mad Hatter: Ah! that accounts for it. He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock.

I think I must have pissed Time off at some point.

In university, it got even simpler: Wake up, eat healthy because if you don’t you’re going to gain weight and feel awful, go to classes, do five hours worth of reading a day, exercise, write essays, go to work, hang out with friends, go to parties, develop a small drinking problem because everyone else is doing it, go on dates, spend time with your parents, try to build your own life, come up with the final answer for what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, volunteer because it makes you look better for future jobs, work on your passions even if they don’t pay anything, take breaks for your mental health because if you don’t then the crushing weight of everything that you have to do is going to descend upon you.

Them: So, have you been going on any good dates lately?

Me: No, I don’t have the time.

Them: Really? That wouldn’t stop me!

The future better be fucking spectacular, because I seem to be living exclusively for it.

Then university ended, and it became even less okay to not have any time. They say that we aren’t kids anymore; we need to get serious. This is our life, the only life that we ever going to live, and we had better do everything with it.

Wake up. Go to work. Plan out the future, because you didn’t actually have time to do that in university. Volunteer, because it looks better for the kind of jobs that you actually want to have. Hang out with friends. Go on dates. Work toward your passions. Exercise. Eat healthy, because there’s still that problem of feeling awful if you don’t. Build your own life. Take breaks for mental health. Don’t give into the existential crisis waiting for you at night when you turn out the lights and lie alone in your bed.

I make plans. I work hard. I do everything I can to work toward my goals, and so what if I don’t do anything else? Who has the time?

We all make time for the things that matter, that’s all I know. We prioritize what’s important. And, unfortunately, not everything can be important at all times. There is too much in the world for that to be so.

But, perhaps, for the things that we miss today, their time will come tomorrow. Just be patient, work on what matters now, and wait for the time to come for everything else.

After all, today might feel long, but it remains short in the span of an entire life. It is not possible to do everything with a day. But it might still be possible to do everything with a life, so long as you work on it all in its time.

Future Planning: Why I Want to Be a Graduate Student

In my four years at university, I heard the same story told over and over again.

“I didn’t intend to go to graduate school,” they always said. “I was just going to get my bachelors, and then I was going to go out into the world and work, so that’s what I did. I graduated and I got a job, and I absolutely hated it. I hated the nine to five lifestyle. I hated how tedious it all was, how monotonous and unending. I felt like a machine, like a lifeless robot doing the same task over and over and over again, day after day. So I decided not to do that anymore. I decided that I was going to go back to school and continue my studies, and I was going to do something more with my life. I was going to think. I was going to be challenged.”

The first time that I heard this story, I was in first year, and all I could think was, yeah, you were most certainly being challenged. You were working your ass off for six to eight years, and that is a goddamn long time to be in school. The last time that I heard this story, I was in fourth year, and the length of time didn’t sound so bad to me anymore – I just wasn’t entirely sure if their truth was my own. After all, I had challenge and thought in my life already – I had my writing. That would never change. So long as I lived, regardless of what I was doing, whether I was waiting tables or scrubbing toilets, I would always be able to go home and work on something that I knew was worthwhile. So the way I saw it, I didn’t have anything to worry about. Their story wasn’t going to be mine.

I haven’t heard this story since then, but I find myself thinking about it a lot now. I’ve been out of school for a grand total of a month now, and a lot has changed since then. I got myself one of those tedious and monotonous nine to five jobs that I was so strongly warned against. I thought I wouldn’t mind it so much, thought that the meaninglessness of my day job would pale in comparison to the meaningfulness of my writing. Turns out, I was completely wrong. Turns out, I’m living that very same story that I was told time and time again in university.

I miss university. I miss being surrounded by people who share my passion. I miss having in-depth discussions about literature with others. I miss being challenged with digging up obscure research, even though the thought would literally have brought me to tears from the stress just over a month ago. And maybe I’m just being sentimental. Maybe I only miss university so much right now because I know that I’m not going back come September. But regardless, I miss university enough to have decided that, after this long, boring year off that I have ahead of me, I will be enrolling in graduate school.

I don’t want to settle for small, in any aspect of my life. I don’t want to not care about what I’m doing. I want my whole life to burn bright and hot and hard, every single aspect of it. And although I have heard that story time and time again while I was an undergraduate student, I think I finally understand what it means.