Melissa Gira Grant is a journalist and author, covering sexual politics, criminal justice, and human rights. She is a writer in residence with the Fair Punishment Project (a joint initiative of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and its Criminal Justice Institute), and she has been a contributing writer for Pacific Standard and The Village Voice. Her latest book is Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso, 2014). (December 2017)
This conflation of sex with “sexual misconduct” has led to some concern that what may result from the #MeToo moment is a “sex panic,” with all the attendant public punishment and casting out. But it’s too late: sexual harassment is a form of discipline, and it has already led to so many women being cast out from their work and the attention that is rightfully theirs. When men use sex to push women into inferior, undervalued, and invisible roles, that isn’t sex; that’s punishment. We must reject the idea that harassment is measured by how sexually violated the victim feels (or how she is told she is supposed to feel). Our conflict is not over sex, or with men in particular or in general, but over power.