What do throwing early Christians to the lions in the Coliseum, the Holy Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts, McCarthyism, chicken pecking parties, lynching by the Ku Klux Klan, public stoning in fundamentalist Iran of adulterous women, Mao’s Cultural Revolution sending hundreds of millions to Mongolia for being intellectual and wearing glasses, gas chambers and concentration camps in the holocaust or Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsi have in common with our modern, western, civilized society?
Mob mentality: Where an angry mob attacks and nobody dares to object lest they be thrown to the arena themselves and be torn to pieces. All human rights are suspended, people are guilty unless proven innocent instead of the other way around and chickens peck at each other viciously, showing their allegiance to the mob to avoid being targets themselves. A few fanatics turn everybody into rabid animals. And the mob, in order to be able to live with themselves, convince themselves to embrace all the anger and find justification for it. All reasoning and human kindness is lost, only the anger remains.
A new social movement has taken the headlines by storm lately, but it is based on a social phenomenon that has been brewing for years, distorting society, twisting gender relationships and alienating people. It is the #MeToo movement, based on the social phenomenon of recent years of the widening, actually the rapid and relentless ballooning of the spectrum of what constitutes sexual abuse and harassment, to the point that every single woman that ever lived seems to be the serious and traumatized victim of sexual abuse and every man a despicable abuser. Apparently it is so extremely desirable, such an honor to be a victim as well, that women are rushing to join the movement, unearthing traumatic memories decades in the past in a frenzied competition for victimhood. And this in the age of woman power, where women are presidents, prime ministers and CEO’s, warriors and fighters stronger than any man as depicted in almost every recent movie and life itself. Powerful women that are victimized by a look, a touch or an innuendo. What a paradox! Men as well, in the spirit of healthy competition, rush to join the same movement in traumatized victimhood of their own gender’s and nature’s horribleness, racked with remorse, guilt and shame, and declare MeToo, I am an abuser, I too have looked at a woman with desire, I too have committed the crime of demeaning them by telling them they are sexy, I too have dared to suggest to pay the check at a restaurant or tried to open my dates’ car door or touch her in the shoulder with no prior written and notarized permission, I too have objectified women, I too have been unable to contain a suggestive look and I apologize deeply. By doing this, they enter the club, become part of the lynching mob and gain the right to go on a holy Jihad against every other horrible and degenerate man.
And attack they do; viciously and vociferously. Nobody is immune. And you do not need to be a sexual abuser or harasser to be attacked. All you need is to have met one, maybe to have been a friend of one or an alleged one, or have made a comment in defense of one, or even just to have done nothing to stop one, regardless if you knew they were horrible abusers or not, and regardless if it was even true!
Enter Matt Damon, one of the most popular actors of our era, a happily married man since 2005 with four daughters, an acclaimed actor and philanthropist, and definitely no kind of sexual abuser. But an online petition has gathered over 20,000 furious signatures to scrap his role in Ocean’s 8, a sequel of Ocean’s 11 and his career is on the rocks. Why? Because he knew Harvey Weinstein and did not stop him. And because he dared to state the following: “I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary … I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” and “Well here’s my optimistic spin, this is like 1 percent of the guys who are losing their careers. It’s not everybody. It just feels like it. There’s so many great men and women in the movie business. So many great people. It’s such a wonderful collection of people overall. And these rotten horrible apples are getting weeded out right now.
And that’s fine. That’s a good thing. That’s progress. But again, when we go back to talking about our own growth and development as human beings. We have to get to a place where we’re looking at one end of the spectrum and saying, “Well, let’s deal with this with some reflection and dialogue and some reconciliation, and let’s all grow together and move on. And then I’ll think we’ll be making progress.”
Such horribleness! And in addition he mentioned that he would be willing to work with a person accused of alleged sexual misconduct on a case by case basis, if he felt there were no grounds or if the allegations were not serious. But how dare he state that there is a difference between rape or child molestation and a pat in the butt! And how dare he even ever speak to a person again if an allegation has been mouthed! His ex-girlfriend and costar in “Good Will Hunting”, Minnie Driver replied in disgust: “Gosh it’s so interesting (profoundly unsurprising) how men with all these opinions about women’s differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault and rape reveal themselves to be utterly tone deaf and as a result, systemically part of the problem.” And there is more: “I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can’t tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not.” And more: “I felt that what Matt Damon was saying was an Orwellian idea, we are all equal except that some us are more equal than others,” she said. “Put abuse in there … that all abuse is equal but some is worse.” She added: “There is no hierarchy of abuse – that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn’t want or ask for … you cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other. And it certainly can’t be prescribed by a man. The idea of tone deafness is the idea there [is] no equivalency. How about: it’s all fucking wrong and it’s all bad, and until you start seeing it under one umbrella it’s not your job to compartmentalize or judge what is worse and what is not. Let women do the speaking up right now. The time right now is for men just to listen and not have an opinion about it for once.” “Men can rally and they can support, but I don’t think it is appropriate, per se, for men to have an opinion about how women should be metabolizing abuse. Ever.”
Seriously? Is this not the epitome of sexual discrimination, something society has been fighting against: If you are a man you are not entitled to have an opinion, just because of your gender? Hello? Men have no opinion on what happens to their mothers, daughters, friends, wives? And what happened to “You are innocent until proven guilty”, the basis of our justice system and our whole civilization? Dustin Hoffman attacked about his alleged behavior over forty years ago, George Lassiter of Pixar fame, the maker of all those lovely sweet movies losing his job because of hugging his employees? Meryl Steep demonized because she was friends with Harvey Weinstein and declared that she had never been abused by him and didn’t know? Hundreds of people losing their jobs, ostracized and disgraced by unproven allegations, their families and friends afraid to even express doubt over the allegations, lest they be attacked and ostracized themselves? Where is our society going? McCarthyism was way milder than this, at least if you were
accused of being a communist back then there would be an inquiry and they would ask you questions regardless of whether your answers would be believed or not!
Will I be attacked as well, because I am daring to raise concern about our direction as a society and I happen to have a penis? How dare I speak or even have an opinion! Am I also at fault at what Harvey Weinstein did, just because I am of the male gender and liked his movies? I don’t even know the guy!
Men cannot have a business meeting with a woman and close the door of their office, children are being expelled from school because of inappropriate behavior, mere looks are being censored and condemned, every kind of touch may be inappropriate without anybody knowing it, since too many hugs can lose you your job, any kind of relationship in the workplace can bring charges of sexual harassment and misconduct, consensual relationships may turn nasty after the fact because if a woman regrets it and did not like the sex after deciding to partake in it, it is rape! Women and men have been going out forever to drink and pick up partners, because with a little alcohol inside us we relax our insecurities and inhibitions, but now if you had a few drinks with a woman before sex you have taken advantage of her and abused her because she was drunk, and you can be accused of rape! And you don’t even have to have had actual sex, because it is all the same, a suggestive look and a brutal rape, there is no spectrum of behavior, there is no difference and anybody who says otherwise should be ashamed of themselves and go to a maximum security prison for thirty years, same as a child molester and so should anybody suggesting that this is not only wrong, but completely against our justice system and our civilization. In the UK, droves of members of Parliament and officials resign over “touching a woman on the knee fleetingly”, proposing to a female colleague that they might be interested in being surrogate mothers for their wife who is sterile and thus making them uncomfortable, and all other kinds of alleged monstrous crimes.
Sir Ian McKellen, best known for his role as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies has been attacked as well, for saying that “Of course, people taking advantage of their power is utterly reprehensible, wherever it happens,” adding: “People must be called out and it’s sometimes very difficult for victims to do that. I hope we’re going through a period that will help to eradicate [abuse] altogether”. But then he went on to describe his experiences in the theatre world during the early ’60s, appearing to suggest that some women were willing to have sex with directors in order to secure a role. He said: “From my own experience, when I was starting acting in the early 1960s, the director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs – they were actors. Some of them had, at the bottom of their photograph, DRR — ‘directors’ rights respected’. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me. That was commonplace from people who proposed that they should be a victim. Madness. People have taken advantage of that and encouraged it and it absolutely will not do.”
Such a desire and an admiration for victimhood! As if women cannot say no, and actually do! We are creating a society where every man is by definition suspect, regardless of the fact that all these men are some woman’s sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, friends and partners. They are all despicable and should never speak again, just lay immersed in their shame and guilt! Every man is an abuser, and the only way to survive social disgrace and much worse is to agree, to be quiet, to repent, to rush to confess full of regret and to attack every other man. Flirting is now a crime, looking at a woman with sexual interest is equivalent to rape, paying a compliment is a demeaning crime.
But we all forget, and most of all women who condemn men for viewing them as “sexual objects”, “like pieces of meat”, that books like 50 shades of Grey where women are actually abused (albeit consensually)
are bestsellers, mostly to women! Movies like “Love Actually” are huge successes despite being all about sexual misconduct and harassment, depicting a British Prime Minister coming on to his assistant, a writer falling in love with his maid and so much more. Every romantic movie ever made would be deemed inappropriate in today’s frenzy. Try to think of one that wouldn’t.
What will happen when men will avoid looking or speaking to women, when they will be afraid to approach them, when whole generations will be raised to avoid any kind of touch, even a simple hug or a touch in the shoulder as inappropriate? What will happen if the romantic impulsive kiss that has moved every woman in every movie or novel no longer exists? What will happen when every joke is inappropriate because somebody might be offended, and joking no longer exists? What will happen to old Charlie Chaplin or Mister Bean movies that make fun of poverty, of misfortune or accidents when they are deemed inappropriate? What will happen when every child has learned the skill of being offended? What will happen when we all avoid human contact and each other? What will happen when no kind of spontaneity exists because somebody may find it offensive and inappropriate? Actually, it is already happening.
In fundamentalist Iran, men and women are protected from their “inherent depravity and immorality” by wearing head to toe burkas, by being chaperoned and never alone in the presence of each other, by Sharia laws that put their very lives in danger. In the western world, men can no longer be alone in the office with a woman with a door closed, any comment or touch can bring on a lawsuit, let alone a compliment or a joke, looks are censored and condemned, men in Sweden change sidewalks when a lone woman approaches lest they make her feel uncomfortable and unsafe, catcalls can get young men arrested and it keeps getting worse and worse. Women dress up provocatively because they naturally want to feel attractive and to make men want them, tattoos on the top of their ass, miniskirts and exposed thongs, and men are guilty for looking at them like a sex object? This is the very idea! Are we regressing more than fundamentalist societies? Are we on a path to live a life of timid and terrified nothingness, a grotesque “Big Sister” scenario in this new version of Orwellian 1984? In the film “Demolition man” a society is shown where ATM like machines in every corner fine people for swearing and profanity and people have virtual sex through computerized helmets, never touching each other. Is this what we are heading towards? Are women destined to never see desire and passion in a man’s eyes ever again in their lives and live alone, scared victims of their own success in eradicating the most beautiful ritual of nature, that between the female provoking and the male pursuing and conquering? Is this what we want, mistrust and anger between men and women instead of oneness and closeness?
Of course there are genuine cases of sexual misconduct, abuse and harassment as well as rape and coercion. And we should protect every real victim. But do we really want to expand this to every modality of human interaction, to bunch them all up into a universal witch hunt and condemnation, ostracism and isolation? Beware of the success of the #MeToo movement, because it will leave nobody untouched, turning all women into victims and all men into guilty, shameful perpetrators for their sexuality, destroying attraction, flirtation and eventually, romantic love itself, turning all of us into frightened, introverted, solitary people. It will be a very lonely, empty existence.