Metropolitan Digital

The Conversation

  • Written by Elizabeth C. Tippett, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon

The 2018 midterm elections represented the first electoral referendum of the #MeToo era.

More than 500 women[1] ran in primaries for federal office, a pipeline that ultimately led to a record[2] number of women set to take office.

Even so, it also reveals how far women are from achieving parity in politics – they are projected to hold barely more than a fifth of seats[3] in the House and Senate. For comparison, that’s less than in Iraq[4], where the post-Saddam Hussein Constitution sets a 25 percent minimum[5] for female representation in the national assembly.

In a way, it reflects the ways in which the #MeToo movement, for its many achievements, has thus far stalled at the federal level. After a year of headlines[6] involving sexual misconduct in a variety of industries, Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation on harassment.

With Democrats poised to take over the House but not the Senate, the question is now whether Congress will finally roll up its sleeves to tackle the root causes of the #MeToo crisis.

#MeToo could become a national reckoning – if the new House treats it like a financial crisis Democrat Jahana Hayes was one of several women to win a seat in the House. Reuters/Michelle McLoughlin[7]

Crisis management

In many ways, the #MeToo crisis is similar to the financial collapse of 2008.

That crisis was a slow-moving train wreck[8], the accumulation of years of morally bankrupt conduct[9] that companies were willing to overlook in favor of what appeared to be larger business concerns.

As I argued in a recent law review[10] article, the #MeToo crisis resulted from a similar slow buildup – companies failed to adequately respond to workplace harassment, permitting harassers to continue to rise up the ranks, while victims saw their careers sidelined.

But in both cases, it was about more than just bad people making bad choices and covering their tracks. Business decisions, like board games, are constrained by the rules of the game. If players figure out a way to “hack” the rules[11] or decide there is more to be gained by breaking them, their behavior probably won’t change without changing the rules.

Just as brokers peddling subprime loans were enabled by bad business practices and regulatory gaps, employer indifference to harassment was made possible[12] by out-of-date[13] harassment laws that gave companies a free pass[14].

The #MeToo crisis also raises concerns about how companies handle discrimination complaints and whistleblowers – since internal processes for doing so are often the same as for harassment.

#MeToo could become a national reckoning – if the new House treats it like a financial crisis A protester holds a sign up during a #MeToo demonstration. Reuters/Brendan McDermid[15]

Diverging paths

In some ways, though, the #MeToo crisis succeeded where the response to the financial crisis fell short.

Consumers who lost their homes to foreclosure never saw much in the way of justice – though a few[16] bankers went to jail[17], the biggest fish did not. #MeToo, by contrast, brought the chickens home to roost for countless men[18] with a track record of harassment.

On the other hand, the financial crisis produced more political scrutiny into the systemic factors that caused the problem. Congress held numerous hearings[19] on its root causes. Lawmakers also created a commission[20]. These efforts culminated in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act[21] and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau[22].

By contrast, the #MeToo movement has produced no federal legislation and not even a hearing – unless you count the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation[23]. Current legislative[24] proposals[25] are mostly focused on whether employers can keep harassment secret.

It’s fair to regulate the cover-up. But eventually, we’ll need to tackle the crime.

Time for CSI Congress?

Political commentators[26] have noted that Democratic control over the House will mean more oversight of the executive branch – and in particular, investigation of ethics violations and the president’s own conduct and financial dealings.

But committees can also hold hearings to gather information[27] from experts and inform legislation. As hard as it may be to imagine after the explosive Kavanaugh hearings, they need not be bitterly partisan.

Here, Congress could take a cue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which reconvened its task force on workplace harassment over the summer. I testified at the meeting[28] and was struck by the good faith efforts of all stakeholders – including businesses, a union representative and lawyers from both sides – to examine the issues in depth and assess different legislative proposals.

The task force itself also represents an admirable model of bipartisan cooperation, co-led by Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic[29], a Republican, and Chai Feldblum[30], an appointee of President Barack Obama.

In separate press conferences after the election, both President Donald Trump and potential soon-to-be-speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed some hope[31] that they could work together[32] on certain issues – though #MeToo does not seem to be among them.

Nevertheless, it’s worth at least trying to extract #MeToo from the culture wars and treat it like a serious policy issue. As odd as it sounds, we should treat it more like a financial crisis.


  1. ^ 500 women (
  2. ^ record (
  3. ^ barely more than a fifth of seats (
  4. ^ less than in Iraq (
  5. ^ Constitution sets a 25 percent minimum (
  6. ^ year of headlines (
  7. ^ Reuters/Michelle McLoughlin (
  8. ^ slow-moving train wreck (
  9. ^ morally bankrupt conduct (
  10. ^ law review (
  11. ^ “hack” the rules (
  12. ^ made possible (
  13. ^ out-of-date (
  14. ^ free pass (
  15. ^ Reuters/Brendan McDermid (
  16. ^ a few (
  17. ^ went to jail (
  18. ^ countless men (
  19. ^ numerous hearings (
  20. ^ commission (
  21. ^ Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (
  22. ^ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (
  23. ^ Brett Kavanaugh confirmation (
  24. ^ legislative (
  25. ^ proposals (
  26. ^ Political commentators (
  27. ^ gather information (
  28. ^ meeting (
  29. ^ Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic (
  30. ^ Chai Feldblum (
  31. ^ some hope (
  32. ^ work together (

Authors: Elizabeth C. Tippett, Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon

Read more

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

Phish’s 2018 Fall Tour to Conclude with Four Performances at MGM Grand Garden Arena

LAS VEGAS (May 15, 2018) – Phish, the American rock band known worldwide for its dedicated fan base, recently announced a 14-date Fall tour which will conclude in Las Vegas with four performances at...

Blane Ferguson - avatar Blane Ferguson

Dave Damiani and The No Vacancy Orchestra are “Bending The Standard”

Tina Sinatra, Dave Damiani & Landau Murphy Jr. celebrate 100 years of Frank Sinatra in Los Angeles There have been stories about independent filmmakers, but how about the independent big band...

Tom Estey - avatar Tom Estey

Billboard Chart-Topping Saxophonist VANDELL ANDREW Returns With New Single

From the vantage point of 30, his age and the name of his infectious, sensually grooving new full length album, Vandell continues to be fueled by the impressive roar of accolades and achievements th...

Metropolitan Digital - avatar Metropolitan Digital

Metropolitan Business News

The Oldest Trick in The Book of Selling Cars Within 24 Hours

It takes weeks and sometimes even months to be able to find an appropriate car buyer for car owners in New Zealand. But we have a surprise for residents of Auckland who are trying to sell their car...

News Company - avatar News Company

5 reasons to store your goods

There comes a time in most people’s lives when storing their household goods and furniture in a secure storage facility is necessary. It’s easy to think that you’ll never need to use storage, but it...

Metropolitan Digital - avatar Metropolitan Digital

How much can you afford to spend on car finance?

So, you’ve made the decision to buy a new car using car finance? This is a really exciting time and you’ll be filled with questions about the best car finance for you as well as how much of your inc...

News Company - avatar News Company

Marketing Impact of Having Online Product Reviews

Whether they are searching online for a service or a specific product, in many cases customers tend to look for online product reviews. They often want to make a comparison to other products or simply...

News Company - avatar News Company



Thomas Estey - avatar Thomas Estey

HOW TO PREPARE FOR RETIREMENT: Finding and Living Your “It”

The name of my Woburn, MA financial services firm is Summit Financial Partners for a very good reason – because the clients I work with have either reached their retirement summit (i.e. they’re ready ...

Ryan Skinner, Founder and Principal, Summit Financial Partners - avatar Ryan Skinner, Founder and Principal, Summit Financial Partners


Maya Beach Opens to Tourists

Despite recent reports that Southern Thailand's famous Maya Beach will close for three months this year, in fact no decision to this effect has been made by Thai authorities. Phi Phi Nati...

Maevadi Rosenfeldt - avatar Maevadi Rosenfeldt


SKYN®, Australia’s best-selling condom*, today launches its very first SKYN® Places of Intimacy Guide.   Curated in partnership with GQ Magazine and Conde Nast, the Guide features 30 lux...

SKYN - avatar SKYN

Under the Stars with Grand American Adventures

Small group adventure specialist Grand American Adventures offers a comprehensive range of thrilling tours across the Americas, but what really sets their tours apart is the unique accom...

Louise Woodruff - avatar Louise Woodruff