Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash for #MeToo op-ed


Author Margaret AtwoodImage copyright
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Author Margaret Atwood

Author Margaret Atwood has sparked a Twitter storm after a provocative column on the Me Too anti-sexual harassment movement.

Her op-ed published in the Globe and Mail newspaper questioned the impact of the movement against inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Ms Atwood called the movement a “symptom” of a broken legal system.

She also defended her support for due process in the case of a male writer accused of sexual harassment.

Ms Atwood, the Canadian author of the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, is the latest in a number of celebrities to face a backlash after weighing in on the movement sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

French actress Catherine Deneuve recently apologised to sexual assault victims after signing on to a letter that argued the campaign against sexual harassment had gone too far.

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In the column, Ms Atwood says the Me Too movement “has been very effective and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next?”

She says she is concerned the University of British Columbia denied due process to professor and fellow author Steven Galloway, who first faced accusations of bullying and sexual harassment in 2015.

In 2016, members of Canada’s literary community, including Ms Atwood, rallied behind Mr Galloway.

They penned an open letter to Mr Galloway’s employer defending his right to due process following his suspension over undefined “serious allegations”.

Media later reported accusations of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

A number of authors have since removed their names from the controversial letter.

Mr Galloway was dismissed by the university and is fighting his termination. He faces no criminal charges.

Of the criticism for adding her name to the letter, Ms Atwood wrote: “And now, it seems, I am conducting a War on Women, like the misogynistic, rape-enabling Bad Feminist that I am”.

She added: “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.”

Ms Atwood also offers misgivings about the movement going too far, warning of the dangers of “vigilante justice”, which she says “begins as a response to a lack of justice”.

The column polarised debate on social media, with supporters praising her for challenging convention and for thoughtful criticism.

But she faced a fierce reaction against the piece.

Detractors criticised her likening of the Me Too movement to the Salem witchcraft trials and accused her of failing women by supporting a powerful male friend.



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