Americans are almost twice as likely to have a favorable opinion of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment and sexual assault than an unfavorable one, and a majority thinks the movements have made at least some progress in raising awareness about sexual harassment and misconduct. Majorities of both men and women say this.
Almost half of U.S. adults say they are rethinking some of the ways men behave toward women, and a third say they feel that what constitutes sexual misconduct is clearer to them now because of these movements. Still, most think sexual harassment and misconduct remains a serious problem.
Some views differ along generational lines and by political ideology. Younger and more liberal Americans seem to be more accepting of the movements. Older and more conservative adults are more skeptical with many of them saying the movements have gone too far, a view held by a third of the public overall.
Assessing #MeToo and Time’s Up
Men and women and those across all ages tend to view these movements more positively than negatively, with the exception of men 65 and older who hold a more unfavorable than favorable view.
Most U.S. adults (63%) think the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have made at least some progress on raising awareness about sexual harassment and misconduct, though just 18% say that a lot of progress has been made.
A quarter of those polled say they’re talking about the issue of sexual harassment and misconduct more as a result of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and 32% say the movements have made their views of what constitutes sexual misconduct more clear. Most, however, say things haven’t changed for them on these measures.
Forty-four percent say it has made them rethink some of the ways men behave toward women.
#MeToo and Time’s Up may be having more of an influence on younger generations than older ones. Adults under thirty (among both women and men) are more likely than those who are older to say the movements have made them rethink how men behave toward women, have made it more clear what sexual misconduct is and have caused them to talk about this issue more.
It’s not just younger women, but younger men who appear to have been influenced by these movements. Forty-two percent of men 18-29 say they now have a clearer view of what sexual harassment is, and 52% say it has made them rethink some of the ways men behave toward women. Thirty-six percent of men 18 to 29 are talking about the issue more often than before, more than any other age and gender group.
There are stark ideological differences: liberals (64%) are far more likely than moderates (41%) or conservatives (29%) to be rethinking the way men behave toward women.
While #MeToo and Time’s Up may be having some influence on the way people think about sexual harassment, most men and women say their own personal social interactions haven’t changed much in the wake of these movements.
For those who say it has changed their interactions, it’s men more than women who say this is the case. More than one in five men say the movements and recent attention on sexual misconduct have made social interactions with women more difficult than they used to be. Women are less likely to say that about their interactions with men.
For some, these movements have gone too far. A third of Americans hold this view.
More men than women feel this way, especially men who are older. Among those adults who have unfavorable views of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, three in four think the movements have gone too far.
Republican women, older women and white women are tend to think, on balance, that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have gone too far. Women who are Democrats, younger women and black women are inclined to think they haven’t gone far enough.
Political ideology is a factor in how these movements are viewed. Liberal men and women overwhelmingly view the movements favorably, and while many moderates don’t have an opinion, they also view the movements more positively than negatively. But most conservatives view the movements unfavorably, and 61% of conservatives say the movements have “gone too far”.
Still, there is some generational division even among conservatives. While conservatives 45 and older have a decidedly unfavorable opinion of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, younger conservatives are divided.
#MeToo and Time’s Up in the workplace
A quarter of working Americans, including 29% of working women, say they are more likely to report an incident of sexual misconduct in the workplace than they were before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. This rises to more than a third among adults under 30.
Most (72%) working adults say they haven’t seen changes in their workplace as a result of #MeToo and Time’s Up, but those who have seen changes tend to say they’ve been for the better (17%) rather than the worse (10%).
Overall, most women think having more women in leadership positions in the workplace would help reduce sexual harassment. Men are more divided on this with differences by age. Most men under 45 think it would help, but most men over age 45 disagree.
There are political ideological differences as well: while three in four liberals and just over half of moderates think having more women in leadership roles would help, most conservatives think it would not do anything.
There is no clear consensus on what should happen to the future careers of celebrities and other powerful people who have engaged in sexual misconduct in the past and who have acknowledged their past actions. Twenty-two percent say such people deserve a second chance, while nearly as many (19%) say they do not. But most Americans (59%) say it depends.
Views on sexual harassment
While most think the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have made progress, 76% of Americans say sexual harassment and misconduct is a serious problem in society today. Nearly four in 10 women call it very serious.
Younger Americans – particularly younger women –take the issue of sexual harassment more seriously. Nearly half of adults under thirty – including 52% of women under 30 – see the problem as very serious. In comparison, just 29% of adults 65 and older – and just 33% of women in that age group – view the problem as very serious.
Also, black women (53%) are more likely than white women (33%) to say sexual harassment is a very serious problem.
Many adults say they have experienced sexual harassment themselves, including 45% of women and 21% of men. Those who have had that experience are more likely to view the problem as serious. But even this is tempered by age: 65% of women under thirty who say they have been sexually harassed say the problem is very serious, but this is true of less than half of women 30 and over who have had this experience.
Women who have experienced sexual harassment are less likely than those who say they haven’t to think the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have gone too far. Many (38%) say they need to go further. Women who say they have been sexually harassed are especially likely to believe having more women in leadership positions would help reduce sexual harassment in the work place (63%).
Overall, most say social media’s role in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements has been mixed. Younger adults (both men and women) view social media’s role as more positive than those who are older. Democrats and liberals think social media has had a net positive role, while Republicans and conservatives think the opposite.
Gender discrimination in society today
In general, Americans think there is more discrimination in society against women than there is against men. Sixty-seven percent say there’s a lot or some discrimination against women, compared to 45% who say that about men.
Majorities of both men and women say women face discrimination, though women (72%) are more likely to see things that way than men (62%).
Fewer men and women see as much discrimination against men, though 50% of men think men are discriminated against, compared to 40% of women.
The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 3,101 U.S. residents interviewed between December 20-23, 2019. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 1.9 points.
Poll toplines here: