The ‘me too’ syndrome: Questioning Western values

The ‘me too’ syndrome: Questioning Western values

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has been the common cautious response of Western men facing allegations of sexual misconduct, inspired by the current “Me Too” campaign. Living in an advanced nation does not automatically qualify them as moral citizens. The Pandora’s Box of sexual misconduct that was recently opened in the US raises questions about Westerners’ professed moral values.
The fact that some of this misconduct occurred decades ago highlights a serious deficiency in Western society. Meanwhile, those who, convicted of sexual abuse, were forced to resign due to the publicity of the campaign would certainly have kept their jobs had their respective scandals not been revealed.
The West tends to define moral values based on its society’s evolution. Westerners praise or condemn their citizens’ behavior according to their personal perspective and what is culturally acceptable to them.
Sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable in Western society, yet Westerners are able to maintain their transgressions as long as their power accords them the necessary immunity. In the West, apparently, power grants huge privileges to citizens, enabling them to behave immorally in public with impunity.
“When in Rome do as the Romans do,” is how many Westerners think and behave. They tend to abide by the rules of the game in their host countries, even when these rules sometimes conflict with the moral values they claim to hold.
As long as there is a safe channel for their misconduct, or even illegal activity, many Westerners will pursue it. Powerful men — such as celebrities, politicians and the wealthy — are the ones most repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, because they know that their power grants them immunity.
Western nations are often proud of their ethical work policies, such as gender equality and obligatory hiring of a percentage of people with disabilities. Yet they may be forced to apply these policies by government regulations, rather than because they are morally driven. Other work-related misdeeds, such as the promotion of incompetent executives or the firing of qualified ones, may be widespread but unnoticed due to lack of monitoring.

When it comes to external politics or business, Westerners are happy to distance themselves from the values they tend to abide by in their own countries.

Mohammed Nosseir

That sexual abusers manage to commit their offences (of which their peers and superiors are aware) for years; that many women prefer to keep quiet about being sexually abused rather than risk losing their jobs; and the financial settlements some women accept in exchange for their silence; are clear indications of Western society’s defects, and the low moral values many abide by.    
Furthermore, those who have been accused of sexual misconduct are celebrities in their societies who help shape social norms. It has become obvious that not only does power matter in those countries, but also that in the US, the issue of Democrats versus Republicans is of more value to the ruling mechanism than morality.
It is clear that Western politics empowers politicians to defend their convicted colleagues. Thus the claim made by many Westerners that moral values are natural Western values is completely flawed.
We non-Westerners believe that Western society applies a double standard to moral values. To a great extent, when it comes to external politics or business, Westerners are happy to distance themselves from the values they tend to abide by in their own countries.
Most of the current allegations of sexual misbehavior concern powerful men who knew they could get away with their wrongdoings at home. The same class of men could easily disengage further from their moral values when abroad.
Western nations tend to measure their success by the fact that they are far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of freedom and modernity. But these attributes have nothing to do with moral values, which are more personally driven obligations — an area in which the West is still behind.
The supremacy of Western society is revealed in its ability to establish an efficient and functioning ruling mechanism, and in its effective application of law enforcement. The “Me Too” campaign should prompt Westerners to revisit what they so often claim as Western moral values.

Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir
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