Men, Supported by Trump, Have Started to Respond to #MeToo By Claiming Their Own Victimhood

me too response men
Demonstrators hold signs on International Women's Day as part of the #MeToo movement in Seoul, South Korea, on March 8, 2018. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

The #MeToo movement has been an awakening in the U.S. and globally, the beginning of reckoning of sorts for a culture that has sidelined and abused women.

But in recent weeks, as the movement matures, some men have reacting by publicly claiming their own kind of victimhood.

USA Today reported there was recently a win for #MeToo opponents in Austria when Sigrid Maurer—a former member of the country's parliament—was convicted of libel after she made a viral claim of sexual harassment in which she posted threatening Facebook messages she said were from a local beer store owner.

The owner claimed he didn't write the messages and that all his customers had access to his computer and Facebook page. USA Today reported that in his ruling, judge Stefan Apostol said he didn't believe the man but that Maurer didn't have evidence the private messages were from the owner.

While the store owner sued, a number of prominent men have claimed their own victimhood. Radio host Jian Ghomeshi—who was accused of abuse—wrote a piece about his struggles, for instance, as did writer Stephen Elliot, who was on the "Shitty Media Men" list.

And President Donald Trump—who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, and who campaigns, often, by stoking grievances -- said recently that it was "a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of."

False accusations of rape are uncommon, estimated to be about 2-10 percent of cases. But some have insisted men—young men, especially—are often victims. An Agence France-Presse (AFP) article on Sunday examined this trend and in the piece attorney Andrew Miltenberg—who said he defended many college-aged young men accused of sexual assault—agreed with Trump's assessment that it was a "very frightening time" for young men.

"In most cases—not all—women are seeking revenge on ex-boyfriends or young men they found have played around too much," Miltenberg claimed to AFP. "It's very difficult for young men to get a fair opportunity to be heard."

Despite claims that men are the victims, the #MeToo movement has shed light on accusations against countless high-profile figures, from Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein and Russell Simmons, to political figures like Al Franken and, of course, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino wrote that the allegation of assault made by Professor Christine Blasey Ford not only didn't really hurt Kavanaugh, it helped propel him forward as he borrowed "the rhetoric of the structurally oppressed." Kavanaugh and Senator Lindsey Graham, Tolentino pointed out, raged at the "hell" the judge had been put through in order to land one of the most powerful jobs in the world.

"I'm a single white male from South Carolina," Graham said amid the confirmation hearings. "And I'm told that I should just shut up, but I will not shut up."

Trump weighed in similarly, saying the questions about sexual assault were a disgrace. "I thought that the way they conducted themselves—the way dealt with a high-level, brilliant, going to be a great justice of the Supreme Court—the way they really tortured him and his family," Trump said. "I thought it was a disgrace."

The president's messages slamming #MeToo—he mocked it at a rally this week, for instance—have seemed to work to some degree among his supporters. A poll this week from YouGov/The Economist found 66 percent of Republicans think the #MeToo movement "has gone too far" in how its dealt with sexual harassment.

The #HimToo hashtag sparked up during the Kavanaugh hearings and people continue to use it—in one high-profile instance, it was apparently used by a mother making up a son's struggles with dates.

Clara Wilkins, a social psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, told AFP that more men do think they're experiencing bias now more than ever.

"Men perceive that if women gain, men lose," she told AFP.