Bad Historical Metaphors – #MeToo and Witch Hunts

New piece in Pacific Standard on historical language and victimization claims:

As a historian and journalist, the use of these loose metaphors to protect the powerful has concerned me for years. This latest push against serial sexual harassment in media and entertainment, as noted by BuzzFeed journalist (and Pacific Standard contributor) Anne Helen Petersen, has driven the bad historical metaphors to new heights (or depths). In a recent New Yorker article by Dana Goodyear about Hollywood following the Weinstein revelations, various industry sources compared the practice of re-shooting scenes that featured sexual predators to “Soviet Union-style erasure,” as if losing screen time were equivalent to being consigned to a gulag. It’s not “blacklisting” when someone chooses not to hire an accused sexual predator. It’s certainly not a sign of incipient Holocaust or gender-based despotism. Nevertheless, a male comedy producer calls Hollywood a “reverse Handmaid’s Talesociety.” One industry insider told Goodyear, “Men are living as Jews in Germany.”

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