Protests against a star of West Side Story that recently opened on Broadway reveal a “MeToo” saga gone amok. The show has seen protestors wielding signs leveled against a lead actor Amar Ramasar. One sign in particular, “Keep Predators Off The Stage” really underscores the excesses created by “Me Too” zealots. Ramasar, who is also a dancer in the NYC Ballet Company, is facing renewed heat for admittedly exchanging nude images of two women years ago without their consent. He was suspended by his ballet company and then reinstated after an investigation. His girlfriend, whose pictures he shared, has accepted his apology and forgiven him for his actions.
Let me be clear. I am not defending his behavior. It was dumb, immature and insulting to the women involved. However, labeling him as a predator is what got my attention. When we glibly toss out labels we weaken the meaning of the actions that truly deserve to be labeled. Sexual predation is serious and encompasses crimes such as rape, sexual assault, protracted sexual harassment and child pornography. Sending nude photos of your girlfriend and another women to a few friends does not rise to the definition of a predator.
Over use of judgmental words like predator and misogynist that do not fit the behavior of the individual being labeled creates the unintended consequence of weakening the meaning of those labels. Focusing on behavior rather than judgmental categories creates the appropriate atmosphere for a discussion of which behaviors are inappropriate and how as a society we should respond to them. Calling any man who does something stupid like sending a few nude photos of his girlfriend a predator obscures the nature of that behavior and creates a defensiveness that avoids exploring and understanding the underlying cause of that very behavior.