The Uncomfortable World After MeToo
#Metoo is perhaps one of the most powerful hashtags that has ever existed. Following revelations that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein may actually be a class A pervert, women have been coming forward to disclose they too were harassed, attacked, or outrightly raped by powerful men in the entertainment business. The hashtag took a life of it’s own on, and now women all over at Metoo-ing their own experiences in all sorts of business and social circumstances. It’s an incredibly powerful coming out, one that nobody can ignore or turn a blind eye to anymore. It’s amazing, it’s wonderful, and it’s great to see women finally coming out from behind their shells to admit what has happened and that it’s not their fault.
The ripples are amazing, huge, and they are taking people at all levels down. Ben Affleck has apologized for something he did 20 or so years ago, and had to answer for an interview with Ann-Marie Losique for the French Canadian interview show that looked incredibly “handy” (Losique said she didn’t have a problem with it, and did it of her own free will, giving him an out). The ripples have gone down and taken out the leader of Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival and looks ready to wipe out a whole bunch more lower tier players in entertainment and industry.
This piles up behind the revelations of the toxic Silicon Valley workplaces where sexual harassment and intimidation are par for the course, according to all reports.
With the current 2020 US Presidential election coming, and Joe Biden’s nomination under attack by a #metoo from 1993, this has once again surfaced as an incredibly important situation.
All of this does create a problem for the average guy. It’s not simple to explain, so bear with me here, because the point is pretty important. Also, when I say “men” and “women” you can reverse it or pair those any way you like. Dominant and victim, perhaps? There are many stories in the #metoo world that relate to gay, lesbian, and transsexual relationships and sexuality.
First off, let’s start way back at the biological thing. Men and women are built differently, and our reproductive life cycle is quite different. While women have a relative short window in which to produce offspring (around 20-25 years) men are physically capable of reproducing for 50 or more years of their life. Actor Tony Randall was 75 when he last child was born. The oldest woman ever to give birth was around 60, and that was only with an incredible amount of medical intervention. Biologically, the male of the species (like many animals) is generally the one that spreads the DNA around. So the base urge for males is to copulate often and with as many different mates as possible. Our society in general discourages that and monogamy, at least for reproduction, is much more the norm now.
Quite simple, men think about sex more, have a bigger sex drive, and biologically are driven differently from women. When you understand that, it’s more easy to point to a point where problems start.
I have a personal theory of sex and relationships, built up over two marriages and a reasonably long (longer than the average, apparently) list of sexual partners and experiences. It comes down to a simple phrase: “Men say please, women say no”. Men are generally the instigator when it comes to sex. Not all the time, some women are pretty strong and powerful about it, but for the most part, men are the ones asking. Most men get use to being turned down. They get turned down for dates, turned down for longer term relationships, and yes, turned down for casual sexual encounters. Most men, with the exception of a few truly lucky ones, get very use to hearing no a whole lot from women. We hear no so often that we become more than a little immune to the bad feelings that come with rejection, so much so that we become fairly bold at asking, because we know what the answer will be most of time, and don’t get real upset when we hear no.
For those who wonder, the whole “insel” movement is based on taking this basic truth and extending it out to the Nth degree, ignoring personality and human factor, and slathering the whole mess with arrogant anger of men who can’t handle the whole process. They are dangerous people, and I will leave them out of the rest of the discussion.
Men in positions of power aren’t any different. Harvey Weinstein, apart from his power and money, isn’t exactly anyone’s version of a hot guy, a model, what have you. He’s an older guy with a pot belly, thinning hair, and looks only his mother could love, as they say. Take away the money and power, and this guy would not be setting the singles dating circuit on fire. Did you see his wife (before she left him)? Stunning, much younger, and well… yeah. Weinstien has been in a way playing the only card he has to get past no. It’s bad, it shouldn’t be done, and he’s harmed a lot of people with it, and will likely die in jail for it. It’s terrible but it’s sadly not unusual, especially in those rarefied airs of the mega rich and powerful.
The other part of it, let’s be fair, is that there are any number of women out there who have calculated the value of X versus Y, and are willing to play the game to get ahead. The concept of “sleeping your way to the top” isn’t out of place in Hollywood or in many others situations, it takes two to tango on that level. It’s probably only a very small percentage of the people who may have walked in his door, but those who are willing do make it worse for everyone by making these guys believe that it’s what every girls wants. They don’t, guys who have less power and less money perhaps know that more because we get to hear no more often in a meaningful way.
I don’t excuse Harvey’s actions in the slightest. Moreover, I think that the people around him who looked the other way as these things happened should be ashamed of themselves, and in some of the worst cases, should perhaps face criminal charges for aiding and abetting. Harvey is paying the ultimate price now likely spending the rest of his life in prison fearing everyone around him.
Anyway, what I find uncomfortable at this point is that we are left with a series of puzzle pieces that don’t fit together. We have men’s biological / sexual issues, we have money, power, huge rewards… and we have a culture that seems to encourage women to flaunt it and drive men crazy. #Metto and #slutwalk seem to be at some point supportive of each other and yet one may be a cause of the other. It’s pretty hard to figure out.
Here’s what I see, a couple of years on: Men are even more repressed in general about sex, women (especially in Hollywood and around the music industry) have actually done a better job at standing up for themselves, and overall things have calmed down. I do have to say as well that Hollywood in particular is less tolerant of the whole “red carpet with your knockers hanging out” thing. Fashions have toned down, the boobs have gone into hiding, the dresses have gotten slightly longer, and things are a little less out there to start with.
For me, the reality is this: #Metoo has been a very eye opening movement, it’s given some people the chance to clear the air, given the others a chance to throw mud, and has generally cleared out the pipes of much of the hidden crap that has gone on. Sadly, in the era where we have fake news, slanted news, and a President who screams that everything he doesn’t like is fake, we have the problem that too much of the truth has been slammed down as fake or not reputable. So many stories have been left untold because nobody would believe them, and the media wouldn’t cover them. That’s sad.
The other reality is this: Men say please, women say no. Men will ask any way the can, from nice words to money to (sadly) force to get what they want, and women will continue to give in at a certain point and deal with the lesser of two evils. We cannot fix that, we can only hope that the victims can both say no and get the help they need not to be in the situation to start with.