Dealing with issues of abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, in other words social justice has created much higher expectation about what should be tolerated in society. It is the growth that our culture needed, but there have been growing pains along the way.
The metoo# movement is a clear indication our society is taking the issue of sexual abuse seriously, but it is becoming more and more contentious. You can see the resistance to it growing, including diverging public views among women speaking on this issue.
One of the reason for it I think has to do with how different generations see this issue and approach social life. According to an Economist Magazine survey 1/4 of men between the ages of 18-30 believe that asking a woman for a drink is a form of sexual harrassment. For people over the age of 64 the percentage was near zero.
This is not a trivial consequence of the confusion around what constitutes sexual harrassment. In fact, none of this is trivial whatsover. It speaks to a more basic and very human issue on how to get along, how to be social with others.
I do not want to place blame here. In fact, blaming people, constantly passing judgement for "bad" behavior is a major part of what is causing so much misery today. If you believe the research, young people are by many measures having a hard time with life. Some of that is because there is less tolerance for the behavior of others. In turn, this creates a great deal of insecurity about how one should behave and particularly how to reach out and make connections.
If it is indeed true that 1/4 of young men believe asking someone on a date is a form of sexual harrassment, that is a recipe for loneliness. It kind of breaks my heart, to be honest. The research on life satisfaction and longevity points to the fact that a rich, social life makes all the difference.
None of these concerns are a reason not to do something about social injustices like sexual abuse, but we should be more nuanced about it. Things like zero tolerance policies are too blunt, too destructive to other aspects of basic human needs.
I am very blessed to have a wonderful life partner and a large family and many good friends in my life. It's been a real gift, and I want the same for the younger people in our culture. This loneliness I hear about breaks my heart. It's time to talk about this without accusations and recrimination. Social justice isn't just about sanctioning and punishing people for bad behavior.
One of the reasons why I have been blessed with a rich social life myself is because I always look for the good in people, rather than their flaws. It makes those "offenses" a lot easier to bear. At the same time, my tolerance for other has not lessened my desire to work for social justice. In fact, it has enriched it.