A movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag on Twitter in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Its impact is still being felt daily, with each news story, with each woman speaking up and with every sexual assault claim. When the #MeToo movement began, there was no way of knowing it would become the most visible, most discussed, and most divisive feminist movement of modern times.
Its impact is also being felt by celebrities who are consistently drawn into conversations on the topic. Whether it’s good or bad, every celebrity has an opinion and often doesn’t hold back on expressing those views. Little Mix are the latest band to have voiced their opinion on the meaning and impact of #MeToo.
The girl band’s new album “LM5” is filled with, what Billboard magazine calls, ‘feminist anthems’ and is a ‘huge dose of girl power feminism’. When asked about their opinion on #MeToo, Little Mix was quick to mention their idea of girl power and feminism. “They’re too scared”, said Jessy Nelson to the Sunday Times, “Men are intimidated by us”. Jade quickly followed suit, “When we walk in a room, we’re a force to be reckoned with. We exclude so much power, nobody would even try it”. There’s something irksome about their understanding of #MeToo, to the point that they almost completely miss the point.
Abuse, sexual or otherwise, isn’t something that ‘power’ can deter. By considering harassment as something related to the attitude or comportment of the victim, it lacks both empathy and understanding of how prevalent and unpredictable abuse can be. Some of the most intimidatingly smart, sophisticated and powerful people have shared their experiences with the #MeToo hashtag. Oprah Winfrey anyone? Little Mix simply reduces the narrative to a specific kind of person who can be abused, and although probably not intentional, it suggests to their fans that this proposed narrative is correct. If you’re not outspoken, confident, or exude intimidation, you’re almost asking for it in some ways.
That’s not to say their comments shouldn’t completely be undermined. 2018 is definitely the year for female empowerment and acceptance and Little Mix certainly do that well. There’s no denying that their music screams confidence and power, and they set the example that it’s ok to be smart, sexy and push boundaries. Their latest single “Strip” showcases this perfectly, with different women accepting themselves and the body that they’re in. Although often questioned for their outfit choices, one can admire their dedication and determination to empower other females with their choices. They further reduce the ‘women must be covered’ narrative and reduce the myth of your clothing choices dictating your outcome of being undermined in society.
Yet, words and actions need to match. Just because one exudes power and embraces their body, it doesn’t make them any less subject to assault. You may have the most girl power in the room and you might be brave and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from assault. There is no correlation between being a feminist and not being assaulted in any means. If you’re going to talk about #MeToo in any context, think before you speak. It’s so easy to say a comment in passing which, unfortunately for people in a position of status and celebrity, has a million consequences.
Although Little Mix were pure in their intentions, when you have the level of ‘power’ and the platform that they do, words should be chosen more carefully. Yes, the movement is diverse but undermining its core value isn’t ideal. Hopefully, Little Mix will learn from this and empower their fans in a more educated and thought-out way so that the next generation of young girls can progress the movement further and as Oprah said herself, “so that no-one will have to say the words “me-too” again”.
Words by Hannah Strong.