Matt Damon forced to grovel after pointing out that not all sexual misconduct is the same

While I regard the house-cleaning in Hollywood as largely salubrious, purging the industry of sexual predators and empowering women in other fields to call out sexual misconduct, there are signs that these movements are going a bit too far. This overstepping is taking two forms: men who have been boorish but are not guilty of sexual assault are also being demonized, and men who have been accused of misconduct but have either been exculpated or have denied it, without any evidence corroborating the accusations, are being driven out of their jobs.

What it boils down to is the subject of this post: there’s a continuum of bad behavior, ranging from rape and sexual predation on one hand to bad and fumbling (but not illegal) sex on the other, but this isn’t being recognized, and is in fact those who point it out are vilified. There’s also a continuum of perceived guilt based on how many accusations there are and whether they’re independent and consistent.

At the far spectrum, where the behavior is multiply attested, consilient, and criminal, are the acts of people like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and the U.S. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. A bit toward the other end of the spectrum are cases like that of Woody Allen, who hasn’t been convicted of anything but where we have evidence of child molestation that I find disturbing and moderately convincing.

At the other end, an example of legal boorishness is Aziz Ansari, whose behavior in an assignation led to his demonization as well as to a form of “revenge porn” in which his accuser described in detail how hamhanded he was sexually. (See the stories by Bari Weiss in the NYTElizabeth Breunig in the Washington Post. Ashleigh Banfield (former CNN anchor and now anchor of HLN, a spinoff of CNN), made a powerful video spread by both venues:

Close to Aziz, but going a bit toward the Weinstein end, is Garrison Keillor, who has been wiped from history, and fired from several gigs, over what he claims was simply touching a woman’s bare back, with no other claims corroborated. Al Franken is even more toward Weinstein, but not nearly as bad; nevertheless, he had to resign from the Senate.

I’m not the first to note that the MeToo and TimesUp movements have created a climate that may lead to unjust demonization and firing, though I emphasize again that there was plenty of injustice reaped by the women assaulted by the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other predators.

What I want to talk about, though, is the almost Cultural-Revolution-like penitence that some people are being forced to show—even though they did nothing wrong—simply because they tried to say that that there’s a continuum of “badness” of behavior, not simply a bimodal distribution at 100% (Harvey Weinstein) versus 0% (Tom Hanks).

After Weinstein had gotten his just deserts, but the accusations were spreading to others, Matt Damon expressed some reservations about the conflation of different forms of sexual misconduct or behavior:

“I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior,” he said. “And we’re going to have to figure out — 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?”

“All of that behavior needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum. And on this end of the continuum where you have rape and child molestation or whatever, you know, that’s prison. Right? And that’s what needs to happen. OK? And then we can talk about rehabilitation and everything else. That’s criminal behavior, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross.”

Well, that sounds reasonable, but in this climate to say that some forms of behavior are worse than others, and some not even criminal, is taboo. Many women were furious at Damon’s words, and the actor Minnie Driver was the most vociferous. As the Guardian reported:

Driver was discussing comments by Matt Damon, whom she once dated and with whom she starred in the Oscar-winning 1997 film Good Will Hunting. In an interview with ABC News this week, Damon said alleged sexual misconduct by powerful men involved “a spectrum of behaviour”.

Damon said there was “a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation. Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”

He added that society was in a “watershed moment” and said it was “wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories and it’s totally necessary”. But he said: “We live in this culture of outrage and injury, that we’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, ‘Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.’”

In her first response to Damon, Driver wrote on Twitter: “God God, seriously?

“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.”

Driver’s response to Damon was shared widely on social media, alongside that of the actor Alyssa Milano, who said: “There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it’s still cancer.”

On Saturday, Driver told the Guardian: “I felt I desperately needed to say something. I’ve realised that most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off in their ability to understand. They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.

“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.”

I don’t think that’s fair to Damon. First of all, while it’s imperative that we listen to how women feel about this issue and what they’ve experienced, it’s not solely women’s purview to assert that there’s no distinction between degrees of bad behavior and criminal behavior. After all, that’s encoded in laws—laws often made by men.  Milano’s statement about “cancer” isn’t helpful given that some types of “cancer” are like the accusation against Aziz Ansari: bad behavior but not criminal or immoral behavior. What is happening in areas like this is that men and women are trying to figure out out good ways to negotiate the concepts of consent and sexuality, but haven’t yet done that, so that regret for bad but consensual sex by either party can morph into accusations of criminal misconduct.

This is going to be a difficult dialogue, and I’m not sure how it will be resolved. I don’t think, for instance, that one should ask, as some colleges prescribe, for permission to do every single thing that furthers an act of sex.

But the dialogue will happen, and it’s good to have it. What’s not good is to get enraged about statements like Matt Damon’s.

But, in fact, the pressure on him became too great, and so, though he didn’t have to wear the Cultural Revolution’s cone hat or bear a sign around his neck, he might as well have. Read this article by clicking on the screenshot (from HuffPo, of course):

Note that there’s a “right thing to say”. And apparently Damon said it:

After a few missteps, actor Matt Damon on Tuesday finally said the right thing about Hollywood sexual harassment and assault.

″A lot of those women are my dear friends and I love them and respect them and support what they’re doing, and want to be a part of that change and want to go along for the ride, but I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while,” Damon said of the “Time’s Up” movement during an appearance on the “Today” show.

“I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this,” Damon continued. “Ultimately, what it is for me is that I don’t want to further anybody’s pain. With anything that I do or say, so for that I’m really sorry.”

He could have expressed sorrow and support for victimized women from the outset, but when doing so now, must add the required contrition: that he should have shut up. But he shouldn’t have, for what he said was not invidious.  And if anybody’s pain is “furthered” by pointing out that there are distinctions between things like rape and touching someone’s back, well, that is their issue, for it’s important to recognize these distinctions, especially in a climate like today’s.

As for what will happen as the next generation figures out how to have sex, I have no idea. I’m just glad I’m not in college right now.

h/t: Grania (for the tweet) and Orli

118 Comments

  1. Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The Ansari story appeared, anonymously, in a journal called “Babe”. Satire falls silent

  2. Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    We’ll be like Japan where sex has slipped greatly as I’ve heard it for a variety of reasons.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I get knocked down
      But I get up again
      You’re never gonna keep me down

      — Japanese sex (quoting Chumbawamba)

  3. Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I have negative dogs in this fight, but why should anyone believe the account of Ansari’s date?

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    As for what will happen as the next generation figures out how to have sex, I have no idea. I’m just glad I’m not in college right now.

    They could put each instance to a vote on Twitter. It could be just like the Islamic religious police.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    That’s the thing about pendulums: they swing until achieving a resting equilibrium.

    I happened to catch Ashleigh Banfield declaiming on the tube this morning. She was great (though I laughed so hard I did a spit take with my coffee when she offered up on morning tv that the condign punishment for a bad date “is a bad case of blue balls”). 🙂

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I was surprised to hear a t.v. anchor used that phrase. She was ANGRY!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I thought she was brilliant. What she said needed to be said by someone in her position, and I’m glad she did.

      • Craw
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        I agree. But look at this response from the writer!

        http://www.businessinsider.com/aziz-ansari-writer-email-to-hln-ashleigh-banfield-2018-1

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          “… I’m certain no one under the age of 45 has ever heard of … .”

          If that’s the sort of thing this reporter thinks is okay to say about another woman, she’s got a lot of growing up to do. No wonder she got sucked in by the snowflake in the original story.

          • Rita
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

            +1

  6. Alpha Neil
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I had always considered myself to be a liberal and a feminist. When I hear what self-described liberals and feminists are saying these days, I’m not so sure anymore. One of us has changed. I guess I’m just a humanist now.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      No, you’re still a feminist, and so am I. It’s the few extremists who have left us behind.

      As always, the squeaky wheel gets the attention and causes the trouble. The other wheels are still there, trucking along relatively quietly on the 18-wheeler of feminism.

  7. Tom
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I think the cancer analogy is pretty good. If I had to get cancer and could pick a type, I would pick one that’s easily treatable. Alyssa Milano’s argument sounds like “Murder and shoplifting are both crimes. One is worse than the other. But they’re still crimes!”

    • Travis
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Sounds almost abrahamic

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I thought Alyssa Milano’s analogy was good too. She was basically agreeing with what Matt Damon said. That’s how I took it anyway.

      Where the problem comes, and what a some are saying (NOT Damom), is that a pat on the butt isn’t rape and therefore it’s okay. That is also how some characterized what Damon said, which was completely disingenuous.

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        +1 A good summary, though Milano’s cancer analogy wasn’t well chosen.

      • Adam M.
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t like the ‘stages of cancer’ analogy. Cancer progresses along these stages and if you don’t stop it early, it will eventually be fatal. It’s not the case that a guy who gives a girl an awkward kiss will eventually progress to worse things and so must be stopped early.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but you probably have a better understanding than most. Milano’s analogy would make sense to most people, though I see than it would irritate some.

          • Adam M.
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            On second thought, I think you’re right that the cancer analogy is pretty close to what Damon was saying. And I don’t find fault with what he said, so I can’t find fault with the cancer analogy either. If something is unambiguously misbehavior/cancer, even if it’s minor, it should be stopped (not necessarily with career destruction, though).

            But I think that space needs to exist for honest misjudgments which aren’t misbehavior, like a guy kissing or touching someone whom he mistakenly but honestly thinks would like him to, and for non-sexual behaviors like touching someone to get their attention in a crowded room. That shouldn’t count as cancer.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I agree on both counts.

    • bundorgarden
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Surely the cancer analogy is nothing more than an example of False Analogy: a common rhetorical tactic.
      I totally support Matt Damon’s original statement.

  8. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    One of my friends from years ago was a violent sexual assault survivor. She used to say that overzealous equation of a little unwanted flirtation or a casual touch with that likely makes the experience of the worst stuff worse, including “why not this too” type things.

    Of course, this is one woman’s opinion, and should be taken as such.

  9. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I had the same pushback from female Facebook friends when I made comments similar to Damon’s back at the start of #MeToo. For some reason, it didn’t get the same publicity.

    I’m sorry he felt the need to rescind.

    /@

    • BobTerrace
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      So, you are saying they stomped on you, Ant?

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I think he’s saying his lack of celebrity (except to us denizens of WEIT) led to very little stomping.

        • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          Exactly that. (And thanks!)

          I pushed back hard, refusing to be stomped. 😬

          /@

          • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Congrats! And I suspect you pushed back with many times your own body weight at that!

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

              Let none proclaim High Hopes that “an Ant, can’t/Move a rubber tree plant.”

              • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

                Well, actually, they can’t. It’s a nice sentiment, but they can’t. Maybe a bit of a leaf. Or a twig. But a whole plant? Ain’t gonna happen.

                I’ll leave it to others to believe if, like the likelihood of an ant actually moving a rubber tree plant, changing people’s minds on these issues is going to come about by arguments on the intertubes.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, well, Sinatra said it, I believe it, and that settles it:

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen a lot of abusive comments on this topic coming from women on various websites, including some that all but explicitly stated that all men (sometimes called penis-wielders) are potential rapists just waiting for their chance. That sounds a lot like what Trump said about Mexicans (without the qualification that some might be good people). There are times I feel like before I can say anything to a woman I have to say “Permission to speak?”

      • Gordon
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Internet comments seem to be a sort of inverted bell curve with sensible majority being relatively silent. I would assume the “penis-wielders” type comments come from a female version of keyboard warriors in their mother’s basement (or maybe a university basement).

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I said only (during the Me Too thing on FB) that it might be wise to disambiguate harassment* and sexual assault, because, to me, it’s not helpful to lump them together since they are quite different things. (While admitting I had no real standing to proclaim on this.)

      I got direct support from one female friend who has been a victim of both. Absolute silence otherwise.

      (* Which I estimated was experienced by something like 100% of women (as the lady in Australia told me: “thayze dickheads everywhere”).)

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Just to point out how hard it is to discuss or teach people about sexual harassment, think about how hard it is to have real sex education in schools today. Many states do not have anything on sex because the parents prohibit, won’t allow it, can’t agree and so on. So, if we can’t agree on sex ed for the kids, what chance is there on sexual harassment?

    The company I work for went through the sexual harassment experience in the late seventies and early eighties, so we have lots of history. We jumped on the sexual harassment classes bandwagon for a few years and discovered that did not get the job done and did not change the outcomes either. Educating the workers, the masses, was not working. What did work was to take the workers at all levels, from the lowest paid to the highest managers out of the equation. We set it up to let the experts handle it and took the problem out of the chain of command.

    Anyway, what happens to some people in the celebrity world is no different because you cannot find two people out there with the same ideas, opinions and actions when it comes to this subject. As long as you leave it at the people’s level to discuss and decide these things, a lot of bad will be done.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      It is extremely important to use outside experts and take it out of the chain of command, as your company has done. I wish more did this.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        and just think. In a sizeable work force/environment the only thing every supervisor/manager must do is report directly to HR any report you get from an employee regarding sexual harassment. You do not need to know anything, except report it within 2 hours. After that the EEO section of the firm takes over and will have a trained investigator on it in short order. Sometimes this trained investigator comes from legal or will obtain additional information from legal as they progress with the investigation into the charge. The investigation includes interview of any persons the investigator needs and of course the person claiming the harassment and the person accused. Also supervisors and other managers, etc. This is all done in private and the investigator provides no information, just turns in all findings for final action. In most cases the investigator gets to a conclusion in a few days.

        But you see, the general population does not get involved in any way. Opinions do not matter and are not asked for. The final decision is not forecast to everyone, usually just those involved. No one in the firm is allowed to interfere with the investigation or the investigator. Everyone knows the rules, simply turn in any report in two hours and that is it. If you do not, you will probably be gone.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          It’s an excellent way of handling the issue.

    • Liz
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      “…think about how hard it is to have real sex education in schools today. Many states do not have anything on sex because the parents prohibit, won’t allow it, can’t agree and so on.”

      Yes. This is a huge problem. Sex education should focus on mutual respect between men and women, orgasms, care, friendship, condoms, pregnancy/pregnancy prevention etc. all with a positive, healthy tone. Sex is not sinful, special, sacred, or inappropriate. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. How many teachers and parents feel comfortable teaching sexually active youth how to give and receive orgasms? The focus right now, if anything is being done at all, is on condom use or abstinence. People are made to feel ashamed of sex. Especially women. Maybe that’s part of the problem also.

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        My 15 year old son is in sex education classes right now in public school. Your characterization doesn’t match his experience. While they do talk about how to avoid STDs and pregnancies, there are entire sections on consent, mutual respect, how to deal with rejection, mental health issues, etc.

        He has received no instructions, however, on how to give orgasms and a review of the class syllabus shows none is forthcoming. That is how it should be. I do not believe schools should be teaching HOW to have sex. Their role should be limited to instructions on how to prepare for and how to handle the consequences of a sexual life.

        • Liz
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          Maybe 16 or 18 might be a better age but where are they going to learn about it?

          • darrelle
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            I learned about it in 5th & 6th grade in a US military school. They had a very comprehensive sex education curriculum that was biology-centric. Can you imagine that in a public school in the US these days?

            • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

              You learned from your school how to give your partner orgasms in the 5th & 6th grade?!?!

              • darrelle
                Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

                Yes.

              • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

                Shocked. You were a minor. How does one teach a child of 11 or 12 how to get their partner to orgasm without committing a serious felony? How is it your teachers are not in prison?

              • darrelle
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:29 am | Permalink

                mikeyc,

                I’m not sure what your thinking. I’m not sure why you think there could possibly be anything wrong with it. Unless you are imagining something like sexual surrogacy and class orgasms. Come on, get real.

                Did I not say it was biology-centric? We were taught in thorough detail about male and female reproductive systems including what they were for and how they worked. That does actually include orgasms. Why you think that would warrant jail time for the teacher has me worried.

              • Posted January 18, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

                Perhaps we were imagining the orgasms occurred in class. 😉

              • Liz
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

                “We were taught in thorough detail about male and female reproductive systems including what they were for and how they worked. That does actually include orgasms.”

                This is wonderful and I’m glad your school was able to teach that. I would think that at 16, 17, or 18, in maybe a junior or senior year health or biology class, these topics could be addressed again. In 5th and 6th grade, most boys have not matured physically and girls are just starting or in the middle. The students might not even grasp some of the concepts. It might be a good idea to have a new class that is taken every year from 5 – 12. I think I only had one in 5th grade which was only the girls. The boys had a separate class. The nurse talked to use about tampons. That’s it. The boys got a half hour with the nurse and the girls got a half hour. I got my period in 8th grade and was the last of the girls to get it. I wouldn’t have understood in 5th grade about orgasms. I then had a health class in 11th grade (mixed boys and girls) and we were taught about condoms and sex. The only thing ever mentioned about female pleasure (or a male’s) and sex was when a classmate of mine asked the question, “How does sex feel good for the woman?” (Good question.) The teacher said, referring to intercourse, that he didn’t know but that it just did. That’s it. Where does everyone else learn the rest of it? Pornography, pop culture, friends, Playboy/girl? Are these the best references for that that also cultivate a mutual respect between men and women, promote sex as healthy, and develop open communication about the subject? I’m just throwing this out there. I don’t think what we have now is the best.

              • darrelle
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

                Liz,

                I agree, 5th & 6th graders can’t be expected to understand “what it’s all about.” Heck, high school age kids aren’t much better and have strong hormonal urges to contend with. Additional instruction in later years would definitely be of benefit.

              • Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

                “mikeyc,

                I’m not sure what your thinking. I’m not sure why you think there could possibly be anything wrong with it. Unless you are imagining something like sexual surrogacy and class orgasms. Come on, get real.

                Did I not say it was biology-centric?”

                Great Jumping Jesus, Darrelle. In response to this;

                “You learned from your school how to give your partner orgasms in the 5th & 6th grade?!?!”

                You responded <blockquote"Yes".

                It isn’t me who needs to “get real”.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                I suppose one useful aspect of internet porn is that nobody need remain in complete ignorance about ‘how it is done’.

                In my day, we knew we took our clothes off, we (male) put our bit inside her bit in somewhat ill-defined fashion, and then something marvellous but equally ill-defined just happened. And that was the extent of it.

                cr

              • darrelle
                Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                mikeyc,

                So, you don’t think that 5th & 6th graders are savvy enough to parse how to give someone an orgasm from a course that describes in detail the human reproductive systems and how they work? I had no problems doing so. Sure, I might not have been ready to start a sex surrogacy business for women who have problems reaching orgasm, but I clearly understood in general terms what “stimulate” meant. I’m also pretty sure that the average 5th & 6th graders would also have no problems doing so.

                Are you a prude or just a habitual smart-ass?

              • Liz
                Posted January 19, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

                In response to mikeyc, darrelle, and nicky on a good age to teach: 5th and 6th grade is a good age to introduce everything. As I suggested though, it would be good to have a class each year, addressing the concerns and realities of each age of the growing adolescent. I would think that while it’s wonderful that a school has already taught that, 5th/6th grade is too young to teach about orgasms in a more nuanced way. In the physical sense that they happen would be more of a basic introduction. Some of the other things, like sticking your fingers into a girl’s throat and vagina simultaneously on a first date without reading non-verbal clues, might be introduced in high school. Otherwise, where are people learning these things? It’s a huge problem that needs to be addressed. School is the best place for it. Every year would be a good idea with the subject matter fitted to the age.

          • nicky
            Posted January 18, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            16 to 18? Waaay too late, rather 12 to 13 or so: we want to prevent teenage pregnancies and STD’s.
            No point shutting the stable after the house has bolted.

        • Gordon
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          A long time since grandfatherly I had to worry about sex education but down here in NZ, at least at the fairly liberally minded school my kids went to, all students (male ad female) were very familiar with condoms and how to use them (thanks I gather to props made by the woodwork teacher) and any instructional attempts by me were met with “We’ve already learnt that at school)

          • Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

            So I presume that you have rampant whoring in the streets, every teenage girls is pregnant, and you’re in terrible moral decay. The Evangelicals assure me that is what happens.

            • Gordon
              Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              Quite correct – and it would be even worse but for the unfortunate fact that the current teenage pregnancy rate is the lowest in decades and has halved since 2008(and most of those who are are 19).
              Evangelicals claim it’s all down to abstinence and others to Facebook

    • Posted January 18, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I wonder if in some contexts those courses (sensitivity training) sometimes backfire. I seem to remember hearing that psychopaths often learn to “fake ethics and morality”, for example, and they are an example of where the extremes are really likely to be in play as far as danger to others, etc.

  11. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    How the next generation will have sex? Like porcupines, very carefully.

    • Bob Murray
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Also like Porcupines, these scolding types seem to be full of pricks!

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        What’s the difference between the White House and a porcupine? With a porcupine the pricks are on the outside!

        • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          AhHA. A re-purposed BMW joke.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Milano connected with me more easily than Driver on this. The main point behind what Milano is saying is that benign tumors need to be cut out so they don’t metastasize into malignant ones.
    She said “It’s the micro that makes the macro”, or to phrase it more precisely- it’s the steady accumulation and acceptance of micro that makes the macro. Perhaps another analogy would be that of the frog in the water that is first warm and then whose temperature is slowly raised, and the frog doesn’t jump out.
    Her point is the progressive social normalization of lots and lots of minor infelicities allows for the normalization and/or coverup of major ones.

    Minnie Driver is simply complaining about having to put up with sexual microaggressions on a daily and ongoing basis. A fly may not be a tiger, but if you have to be swatting flies all the time day in and day out…

    =-=-=

    While there is evidence in favor of Allen’s guilt, the countercase in his favor articulated by Allen biographer Bob Weide and the older stepson, Moses Farrow, is enormously convincing!
    Weide now has an entire “blog”/website on the subject also using wordpress. It currently has 3 long entries, the first of which is his telling article for the Daily Beast “an open letter to Ronan Farrow” which became the title for the whole website.
    https://ronanfarrowletter.wordpress.com/

    Allen remains the only denier who has not only pleaded “not guilty” but actually mounted a defense (his noted claustrophobia would have prevented his going to the attic, Moses’ claim the train set was not in the attic that day, the resignation of one of Mia F’s babysitters in protest that she was being strong-armed into corroborating a story she could not, Mia F refusing to take a lie detector test while Allen passed one, Ronan and Dylan’s distortions of well established facts in their Vanity Fair pieces [the New England team DID interview Dylan contrary to her V-Fair piece], etc. etc. etc.)

    Allan’s obsession with teenagers is of no more consequence than the quasi-child-loving behavior of Michael Jackson. Likely Mia F just thought it would help her.

    It is specifically a situation where false-memory expert Elizabeth Loftus ought to weigh in on.

    (Dylan Farrow will be interviewed Thursday morning on the CBS This Morning.)

    =-=-=

    We have 10 bagel stores here in Palo Alto, CA, NONE of which sell Nussbaum’s detested “spinach bagels”, not to mention most political debate is pretty civil around here, so please, Emily Nussbaum, come out and visit Stanford and our city cometime.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      “The main point behind what Milano is saying is that benign tumors need to be cut out so they don’t metastasize into malignant ones.”

      Well, strictly speaking, this just means cancer biology is another thing Milano is unqualified to speak about.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Milano’s point is certainly true SOME though not all of the time, as evidenced by my recent colonoscopy.

        • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I know, it was a silly point anyway. Milano was just re-phrasing Damon, though I doubt she realized she was.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree with Ashleigh Banfield. As Meghan McCain said on the same situation “this is moving the goalposts”.

    • Robert
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much for the Woody Allen information. The accusation is so troubling and yet he is such a great artist.
      I hope he is innocent but how does one finally decide?

      • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        You are having trouble deciding if Allen is “innocent”? Does any of this help?;

        “…his noted claustrophobia would have prevented his going to the attic, Moses’ claim the train set was not in the attic that day, the resignation of one of Mia F’s babysitters in protest that she was being strong-armed into corroborating a story she could not, Mia F refusing to take a lie detector test while Allen passed one, Ronan and Dylan’s distortions of well established facts in their Vanity Fair pieces [the New England team DID interview Dylan contrary to her V-Fair piece], etc. etc. etc.)”

        I will add that I believe a police investigation was done and they concluded there was no evidence to charge Allen.

        • Posted January 18, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          Lie detectors are basically really “anxiety detectors”. I would never use them for anything.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

            As I understand it, they’re just another version of the Scientologists’ ‘E-meters’ …

            cr

  13. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me Milano actually made the same point as Damon originally did. You wouldn’t respond to stage 0 breast cancer as severely as you would to late stage pancreatic cancer, just as the response to a pat on the butt shouldn’t be as severe as the response to violent rape.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I thought so too. (And that was the point I’d been making on Fb.)

      Richard Dawkins got in hot water in a similar way, didn’t he?

      /@

    • darrelle
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Oops. While I was busy trying to compose a comment you went ahead and said what I wanted (did) say.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      The correct way (and the only approved one) to interpret this is that since Milano is lacking dangling bits, when she says it, it’s ok.

  14. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    “I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while”

    Ah, the back seat. Where resentment and a sense of unfairness fester. So swingeth the pendulum.

    “We don’t want to be equal, we want to take turns. Guess whose turn it is now?”
    – Firesign Theater.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      What Firesign play is that from?

      • GBJames
        Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        I think the original quote is from Anythynge You Want To: Shakespeare’s Lost Comedie. The character Tom says:

        “It’s a New World now, honey! Nobody’s wine has to be a Slave all the time no mo’! We’s wine take turns! And guess whose turn it is now!”

        • GBJames
          Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          Damn autocorrect. “wine has” = “gwine hab”.

          • KiwiInOz
            Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            In vino veritas.

    • Travis
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I’ve become more and more convinced over the last few years that men are “going their own way” (MGTOW) more and more as an apathetic pushback to this. Men see the media, school system (especially but not exclusively universities) tell them that they aren’t as important as women, and they need to step aside for women.

      They see that on top of all this any dating interaction can blow up into some insane media frenzy over sometimes nothing (false rape accusation), or a minor thing (“he sexually assaulted me because he was pushy”) and that if they’re on a university campus their due process rights are skipped altogether.

      Then they learn about family court and that even before family court, they have no reproductive rights (beyond abstinence or surgery) and that a woman lying about being on the pill can screw them over for 18 years of their life… and if they slip up on the payment (even if it’s because they literally have no job) they might wind up in jail or have their driver’s license revoked and the cycle continues and gets even worse.

      I’m not personally in this camp, as I’m in a long-term relationship (9 years) but this group of openly MGTOW men is increasing, and despite what people say about MRAs MGTOWs certainly harbor some misogyny on average based on their discussion boards. I think things are going to get worse and worse for men and women.

  15. Liz
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    The distinctions are important. It isn’t like all of these men are monsters. I’m grateful that this me too movement is happening. It’s definitely overdue. With any sexual mistreatment, there is going to be a level of sensitivity that most men just are not capable of understanding. I understand that. I understand women who say let’s punish these men. There is a difference, though, and for the sake of getting it right, the focus is necessary. Right after one of the first few to be called out, a different man (I don’t remember the article)* pointed out the distinctions. There was a response that was basically saying, “Men, you need to shut your mouths right now.” I understand that but it’s wrong. It’s about what’s correct and most importantly, the mutual respect between men and women. I don’t blame other women for doing their own thing. It might not get everyone too far, though. Matt Damon was correct. A better thing someone could have said to him, “You are right (This isn’t really the *best* way to say it but correct). We are going to have to work together to make these changes for us now and for younger generations.” There is a difference also between a pedophile, a hebephile, and an ephebophile. I’m not so sure there is anything wrong with the last one depending on where you live or the circumstances. As much as their behavior was terrible and unlawful, I wouldn’t classify Kevin Spacey or Roy Moore as pedophiles.

    *I found the article.

    Amber Tamblyn: I’m Not Ready for the Redemption of Men

    “Redemption must be preceded by atonement. It is earned, not offered.” This is actually a really good article to read. I completely understand this but also would stress the importance of mutual respect between men and women.

  16. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I think many women must feel that the outrage needs to go on a while for the catharsis to be complete. This is independent of any action taken, individually or by society as a whole, to correct the problem. It is also somewhat independent of the level to which each man is guilty.

    I imagine a conversation in which the women says, “Men are pigs!”. The man says, “Yes, I agree. … How about those Dodgers?”. The woman says, “Wait! You don’t get off that easy!”

  17. darrelle
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    My interpretation of Milano’s cancer comment is nearly identical to my interpretation of Damon’s comment. As far as I can tell she paraphrased him quite well.

    From Minnie Driver.

    “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.”

    She apparently interprets Damon as telling women what they should think about, and how they should feel about sexual abuse they have experienced. If her apparent interpretation were correct I would agree with her. In any case I can understand her attitude, but I disagree with her.

    What worries me about attitudes like Driver’s, no matter how understandable, is the apparent attitude that an impartial, presumed innocent justice system should be bypassed in sexual abuse cases.

  18. Blue
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I happen to concur, Mr Douglas, with your
    friend’s statement. No one touches Blue at
    all. They may ask to do so; they may not.
    No one touches me, at all, until I ask them
    to do so. Workplace or elsewhere.

    Unless I have told them of my past and of its
    experiences … … AND they get it — those
    experiences, then no one knows what touch
    means … … to me.

    Blue

  19. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I so appreciate that you posted about this situation. I understood Matt Damon’s original comments and agreed with him. Then I read Minnie Driver’s rebuttal and understood her points too. But, I didn’t think that either one of them should have kept silent. In order for progress to be made we ALL have to speak up and weigh in on a topic…whether we agree with another’s viewpoint or not.
    Since this behavior has been pandemic throughout history, it’s going to take a while to correct. Some who have behaved badly have learned from it and apologized for it. Others have not. I hope we don’t become a vengeful group – let’s examine each situation independently from another.

  20. Max Blancke
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    It is human nature for movements to go too far. Often the most vocal and emotional proponents find themselves leading the movement, and they are unlikely to see their actions in reasoned perspective.
    The internet just makes it worse, as it allows isolated fringe types to reach each other, and amplify their irrational views, and take their movements on unconstructive tangents.
    That is why BLM has, as an integral part of their platform, divestment from fossil fuels.
    The sad part is that many of these movements are started for very good reasons, and to solve real problems. When they go into ridiculous territory, and the pendulum swings back, there is a good chance that useful gains will be erased.

  21. Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I read a wonderful piece by a woman on the whole metoo movement called “The Warlock Hunt” It was by right-winger Claire Berlinski, daughter of the odious David Berlinski, and though it lost its momentum at a certain point it was mostly witty and spot on.

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      A “moral panic”, indeed. Here’s quote from Berlinski’s piece;

      “It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.”

  22. Travis
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    South Park’s satire is forever accurate

  23. Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Gender is on a spectrum.

    But rape is no different from clumsily propositioning a woman.

    Apparently

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      I was going to write a paragraph but you’ve summed it up in three lines.

      cr

  24. danstarfish
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m not so sure that Woody Allen deserves to be listed. Several people who were present in the house at the time the event was alleged to have occurred don’t believe it happened, two nannies and Moses Farrow (who was 11 at the time). At the time of the alleged event, Mia and Woody were in a custody battle over the children they had adopted together. In addition, Mia had found out 4 months earlier that Woody was in a relationship with another daughter, Soon-Yi, that she had adopted with Andre Previn. Mia had every reason to be furious with him at the time. Also, considering what had happened with Soon-Yi, it was understandable that Mia would worry about her other daughter. If as described, Mia questioned her 7-year-old daughter repeatedly over several days then I’m not sure how reliable the testimony that the accusation was based on was.

    I read a fairly credible defense of Woody that makes me think he probably did not do what he was accused of. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      IIRC, Vanity Fair had an in-depth article seriously undermining Farrow’s accusations, and questioning her motives & tactics.

      That being said, Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi was creepy, albeit not criminal.

  25. GBJames
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    and sub

  26. Posted January 17, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    On Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes, Dana Stevens opined at Slate “the men who took the stage to accept awards, […] said … virtually nothing. The degree to which women performed all the rhetorical heavy lifting at this event was both depressing and, […] oddly heartening.” Was it really the “right thing to say” that he (men in general) take the backseat? Or is this “depressing”.

    As with every order from the “woke” faction, to be followed exactly and without hesitation, it remains contradictory and confused. Of course, they are just different writers with different opinions, you say. But having mere opinions is at once incompatible with a movement that doesn’t suggest, or accepts different takes on matters: each and everyone there speaks with utmost authority. There is only one, way, “THE Right Way” and you better follow, or else!

    As a full fledged religious movement, believers have contradictory beliefs, which they won’t attempt to duke out among themselves; especially not as long there are heretics to fry and witches to burn. Or random people that caught their attention, who are perceived as not enthusiastic enough about burning flesh.

    And of course, that’s why it has these characteristics of virtue signalling and burning bridges.

    In fact, these manufactuversies have no place for any commentary at all. You are either openly pious, or you ought to “shut up and listen”. There’s nothing to discuss on matters. ALL of these things were always wrong in my lifetime, and I wasn’t born recently when people decided to go woke, and suddenly fancy themselves as vanguards of a cultural change that isn’t one. Weinsteins reprehensible behaviour was wrong yesterday, and yesteryear for a couple of decades at least.

    The Woke only realize social media is an afterlife, and eternal judgment, where the more progressive judges of the future will look back at this age of barbarity. And they wish to be seen as MLK. It’s pure vanity, often with a dose usually documented in the DSM.

    From that, the movement incentivizes zealotry. It’s not even enough to march in the torch-and-pitchfork-mob: one must not appear to march somewhere in the back. Everyone must look like rushing to the fore. Slightly different phrases between Milano and Damon can make the big difference even though they mean the same thing. They suggest a different direction on zealotry, not matters: Damon’s take is “slow down a little and have a measured response”, Milano‘s context says “no hesitation, forward!”. The problem is, we aren’t moving fowards: we are thrown backwards

  27. Jake Sevins
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I lost one of my closest friends because she posted an article on FB (roughly) saying that all the innocent men need to stop saying, “Most men are decent” because it’s not about men right now. So shut up.

    I opined that it’s important to remember that we’re not condemning all men, just those who behave badly, whereupon my friend said I was “part of the problem.”

    • Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Jake, she may have been close but she was no friend. No real friend is that trivial.

  28. Jonathan Dore
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Dawkins tweeted a statement a couple of years ago that essentially made the same point as Damon, but with characteristic acerbicness: “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Dawkins is absolutely logically correct.

      But the MeToo movement, like all witch-hunts, isn’t about logic and can’t abide it.

      cr

  29. Posted January 17, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m not the first to note that the MeToo and TimesUp movements have created a climate that may lead to unjust demonization and firing, though I emphasize again that there was plenty of injustice reaped by the women assaulted by the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other predators.

    I wasn’t aware that Spacey had been accused of assaulting women.

    All the accused perpetrators I’ve heard about are men but that’s not true of their alleged victims. #MeToo has been turned into a men vs women issue when it should be about the abuse of power.

  30. Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Ashley Banfield went yard. Flipped the bat.

  31. Posted January 17, 2018 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Anyone up for a betting pool on how long it takes 4chan to doxx “Grace Hoover”?

  32. Chris
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Glad I’m rocketing into middle age and done with the whole dating thing. It looks like puritanical feminists will succeed in making “affirmative consent” the defacto law of the land, at every stage the male must stop and make sure the fragile female gives a firm verbal “yes”

    A Time article just came out which talk about taking it further to “enthusiastic consent” so…

    Ladies be prepared for young men to spend even more time interacting with video games and online porn rather than you because it’s too socially/legally? dangerous to date. Don’t worry the Cads like Trump will still be in the game.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      “a firm verbal “yes””

      Expect written agreements next.

      “We the undersigned agree this day agree that necessary levels of enthusiasm have been achieved to justify sexual activity consisting of…”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        The difficulty will be to finding a notary public to witness the agreement in a timely manner (before both parties succumb to frustration…)

        cr

    • yazikus
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      Good lord, what a slippery slope. That said, ‘taking it further to enthusiastic consent’, is that a bad thing? Are you not eager for an enthusiastic partner? Anything less than enthusiastic will likely lead to bad sex.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 19, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Only if it is enthusiastic enough.

  33. Eric
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Ansari’s accuser is doing what sexist men have done to women in locker rooms, on the golf course, etc. for years. Same with ‘the list’ – some men have been blackballing working women informally through conversation for years. Talking to each other about bad dates etc.

    Now, this doesn’t mean I think what she did was good or constructive. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But I also don’t think his career/reputation is eternally ruined and I don’t think we should cry too many tears for the men who are being treated as roughly now as men have treated women since, well, forever. Ansari will make money this year being a comedian. Maybe not as much as he would have, but I’m sure he’ll get by. In the mean time, this example may make people think (again…and again…beacause this subject seems to never go away) about whether they really want to live in a world where we blackball people professionally for what goes on in the bedroom. And if the answer is ‘no, I don’t want to live in that sort of world,’ then maybe that will convince some sexist men to stop doing it. As for the women who do it, I worry far less about them because of sheer numbers; my WAG is that for every woman who ‘goes too far’ in undermining the career of a man she doesn’t like, there’s 10 or 100 men who are doing the same in reverse.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      I agree.

    • Blue
      Posted January 18, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      O’my golly, this of yours, Mr Eric /
      Mr darrelle, is rather so hard to believe.
      And is lovely. My thinking precisely … …
      but here on WEIT and almost everywhere else,
      except with my own three sons in to their
      late 30s and early 40s, I am a f r a i d to
      state this exact same FLIP / REVERSE.
      Because of the (soooo UNwarranted) backlash
      that STAT, including here, … … ensues.

      Other women of WEIT commenting here? HAVE
      loooong now … … told me The Same Thing:
      it is not up to me to try to educate in re
      sexism. Only to suffer vitriol or worse
      after our trying. My Youngest just yesterday
      upon his fb page: “I’m not going to point to
      my ancestors and claim that that gives me any
      understanding of how girls and women feel now. Instead, I’ll channel some basic human
      decency and the innate ability to tell when
      someone is a sexist asshole.”

      Blue
      hardly … … a “thin – skinned” or
      “fragile, fucking feminist,” just
      a radical one who has “some basic human
      decency” and “an innate ability to tell.”

  34. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Lost interest half-way through. Mat Deamon is … an actor?
    I don’t need to waste time on stuff like this. So I won’t. All my possible hire decisions are by personal cow-orking, so I simply won’t waste time on applications from people who I’ve not worked with previously. (Yes, I’m having to get CVs *at this time*.) It’s not that people of group “X” (two-headed mice, for example) won’t get considered if they submit a CV., it’s that all CVs submitted will be shredded, unread. Safer.
    When you need only a few people, it’s safer than dealing with all that stuff.
    IF (“if”) I have to have an office, I’d just buy a service from a company and let them flap their gums over these issues without disturbing my business.
    Not that I want to run a business (fuck, no! Not in a bucket, or sideways. Gag gag howckl!), but if that is shit I have to do, this subset of stuff is exactly what “someone else’s problem” fits.

  35. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I have seen similar reactions when I have described what constitutes violations of sexual harassment laws in the workplace. I helped write sexual harassment policies on one of my first law jobs, and behavior that might be offensive or make someone uncomfortable isn’t necessarily something an employee can stop or sue over because it is not a legal wrong. I talked to an HR professional who said the action of asking someone out on a date is sexual harassment. I had to tell her that such a blanket statement was an incorrect reading of the law. She was incredulous but I wasn’t on the clock so it wasn’t worth it to argue with her.

  36. nicky
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I found Lupita Nyong’o’s story about Harvey Weinstein much less abusive than the Ansari story. I find the latter quite abusive.

    Equating a pat on the butt (annoying and rude as it may be) to rape is insane, and trivialises rape. Mr Damon should not have backed down.


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