How far can the #MeToo nuttery go?

The arbiters of sexual mores who are driving the #MeToo movement must be pleased with this.

A professor, who was attending an academic conference, was in an elevator when he jokingly suggested to be let off at the ladies' lingerie department.  A female academic who was attending the same annual meeting of the International Studies Association heard the joke and objected.  She not only was not amused, but complained to the ISA.

Predictably, there was an uproar and a backlash.  Have we reached peak idiocy yet with the #MeToo movement?

Chronicle of Higher Education:

The fuss started when Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of political theory at King's College London, and Simona Sharoni, a professor of women's and gender studies at Merrimack College, ended up in the same crowded elevator during a conference at a Hilton in San Francisco last month.

She said she offered to press the floor buttons for people in the elevator, whom she described as mostly conference attendees and all, except one other woman, white middle-aged men.  Instead of saying a floor, Lebow smiled and asked for the women's lingerie department "and all his buddies laughed," Sharoni wrote in a complaint, the details of which he disputed, to the association later that day.

"After they walked out, the woman standing next to me turned to me and said, 'I wonder if we should have told them that it is no longer acceptable to make these jokes!'" she said in her complaint.

Sharoni, who wrote in her complaint that she has experienced sexual harassment in academe in the past and was shaken by the incident, said it took her a while to figure out that Lebow thought it was funny "to make a reference to men shopping for lingerie while attending an academic conference.  I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that we froze and didn't confront him," she wrote.

If Sharoni and her ilk had been in charge of judging human sexual behavior 100,000 years ago, we would have gone extinct.

Professor Lebow tried to grovel before his tyrannical accuser but failed to move her:

"Like you, I am strongly opposed to the exploitation, coercion, or humiliation of women," Lebow wrote.  "As such evils continue, it seems to me to make sense to direct our attention to real offenses, not those that are imagined or marginal. By making a complaint to ISA that I consider frivolous – and I expect, will be judged this way by the ethics committee – you may be directing time and effort away from the real offenses that trouble us both."

Lebow is apparently uninformed about how the #MeToo hysteria has changed the ballgame:

It turns out, that's not the way the association read the matter.  Boyer informed Lebow that his remarks had been deemed "offensive and inappropriate."  An even "more serious violation," than the elevator remarks, Boyer wrote, was "that you chose to reach out to Prof. Sharoni, and termed her complaint 'frivolous.'"

Lebow was told to write an "unequivocal apology" to Sharoni and submit a written copy by May 15 to the association's executive committee.  The apology should focus on Lebow's actions, rather than Sharoni's perceptions of them, it said, adding that if he failed to comply, the executive committee would consider appropriate sanctions.

In the #MeToo universe, it's not enough to sanction wrongdoers.  They must be humiliated as well.

Of course this is "frivolous."  Of course this is loony.  Of course if we continue along this path, innocent byplay between men and women will be criminalized.

But it's not about frivolity.  It's about power and the exercise thereof by tyrannical, oppressive, prudish people – most, but not all of them women – who care about the issue of sexual harassment only as much as it feeds their need for control.

If you experience technical problems, please write to