The #MeToo phenomenon is a cultural movement like no other. A few weeks ago, I sat in a circle with about seventeen men to talk about #MeToo. The responses were varied, but the overall tone was consistent. These men sensed the gravity of this moment. Voices were low. The energy introspective. There was little in the way of defensiveness or anger. It made me wonder: Why so grave? What are we sensing here?
There are many ways to look at it, but one of them is this: Men are disoriented—even conscious, aware men—because we can all feel the patriarchy crumbling. That means we are losing our unconscious advantage in life—what many have called privilege. Our positions within the patriarchy, and certain advantages conferred by those positions are being challenged. To the extent they are challenged effectively, the patriarchy is actually being disrupted.
#MeToo would not have been possible without the digital world in which we live. Only a ubiquitous, nearly universal network such as Twitter could amass a huge number of women’s voices so that they may finally be heard. Until now, men, by virtue of their power positions, have been able to silence individual women raising issues about male behavior, or to ignore them. That was the patriarchy in action. The disruption is now happening because of the power networks provide to magnify the collective reality in ways that the hierarchical patriarchy could never allow. This is how digitalization is changing the social landscape.