The Legal History and Queerer Future of 'Me Too'
6 Critical Analysis of Law 135 (2019)
10 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019
Date Written: April 20, 2019
This paper traces the legal history of “me too” as a legal pejorative, referring to evidence that courts and defendants sought to exclude from consideration in discrimination cases. The exclusion of this evidence was part of a divide and conquer strategy that covers up the pervasiveness of discrimination, thereby diminishing the claims of those who allege its existence. It then describes how the “#MeToo” social movement uses the term in precisely the opposite way: to bring survivors of coercive sexual behavior together, and to thereby call attention to the pervasiveness of the behavior, which makes the movement’s radical claim to eradicate the abuse even more worthy of urgent attention. Next, it considers the rapid and fierce backlash to the #MeToo movement, in the form of the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, considering how this backlash, like the original exclusion of “me too” evidence, sought to cloak the exercise of power and privilege in legal terms and process. In doing so, the backlash exposed to the public that even the Court — a symbol of law and justice — is corrupted by the political impulse to maintain current allocations of sexual power and entitlement.
Keywords: me too, #metoo, harassment, confirmation, discrimination, queer, sex, courts, politics
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