Poll: Majority says #MeToo movement has helped address gender inequality

Image: Caitlyn MacGregor, with "#metoo" written on her face and wearing a pink "pussyhat", attends the second annual Women's March in Cambridge
Caitlyn MacGregor, with "#metoo" written on her face and wearing a pink "pussyhat", attends the second annual Women's March in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Jan. 20, 2018.Brian Snyder / Reuters

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By Rebecca Shabad and Stephanie Perry

A majority of adults in the U.S. believe that the spotlight on sexual assault and harassment has helped address gender inequality, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.

The survey found 51 percent of respondents said that they believe reports about sexual assault have helped address the gender gap. Twenty percent, on the other hand, said that those same reports lead to the unfair treatment of men. Just over a quarter of adults said that those reports have made no difference in society.

Broken down by political affiliation, 37 percent of Republicans and those who lean in that direction said that they believe sexual assault reports lead to the unfair treatment of men. Just 18 percent of independents feel that way, as well as only 7 percent of Democrats and people who lean that way.

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President Donald Trump weighed in on the movement in February, casting doubt on women who come forward. He tweeted, "Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"

The #MeToo movement has ended the careers of many men in powerful positions across different industries: Hollywood, media, Congress, professional sports and Silicon Valley. The movement quickly picked up momentum last fall amid the scandal involving movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who has faced a myriad of rape, sexual assault and harassment allegations, and who resigned from the board of his company, Weinstein Co.

"The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the sound of powerful new voices, of different voices, of our voices, together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying 'times up,'" said actress Ashley Judd, one of Weinstein’s accusers, at the Academy Awards last weekend.

More than 150 young women came forward this year to say that they had been molested by longtime Olympics gymnastic doctor Larry Nassar, who was later sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

The movement has also led to a number of resignations of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has said that he’ll repay taxpayers for the $84,000 of public funds he used to settle a sexual harassment claim brought against him by a former employee. He decided not to seek re-election in December amid a drip-drip-drip of allegations that he had fostered a hostile work environment in his congressional office.

Last month, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would ban people accused of sexual harassment in Congress from using taxpayer dollars for settlements. The bill also seeks to give victims more rights and resources when they file a complaint.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll was conducted from Feb. 26-28, 2018, among a national sample of 2,857 adults. Respondents for this nonprobability survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. For full results and methodology, click here.