An Alarming Share of Americans Think Women Are Making False #MeToo Claims

The #MeToo movement is now an undeniable force in American culture—but a new poll is a reminder that not everyone thinks it’s entirely a force for good.

According to a new poll of 6,251 adults released by the Pew Research Center on Wednesday, 31% of respondents say that women making false claims about being sexually harassed or assaulted is a major problem in today’s workplace. Another 45% think baseless allegations are a minor problem.

Interestingly, there’s no gender divide among those who believe that false reports are a major problem: that 31% of respondents is split equally between men and women. There is, however, a partisan split: Republican or Republican-leaning responders were more likely to identify the issue as problem (34%) than Democrats or Democrat-leaning (29%).

Along the same lines, 34% of poll takers told Pew that employers firing accused men before finding out all the facts is a major issue (39% called it a minor problem).

That’s not to say that Americans aren’t concerned about the victims of sexual harassment. The poll, conducted from Feb. 26 to March 11, finds that a full 50% of respondents believe that men getting away with sexual harassment or assault remains a major problem, while 46% say the same of women not being believed. And the scale of the problem is clear: 59% of women and 27% of men told Pew they have been sexually harassed at work.

Still, the data suggests that observers are deeply skeptical that the current sexual harassment-related shake-up will result in a fairer and more gender-neutral workplace. More than half of poll respondents told Pew that the increased focus on harassment will make it harder for men to interact with women at work (at 55%, men were slightly more likely to say so than women.) The older the cohort, the more likely they were to say that #MeToo will make such interactions harder on men.

Respondents found the outlook for women equally bleak: 51% said that the current reckoning over sexual harassment and assault will not make “much difference” in the opportunities available to women in the workplace.

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