Okay. Let’s try a little test, shall we? Watch this video and determine how you feel about it:
That was Ben Affleck in 2004 with an actress named Hilarie Burton. Full disclosure: I’m not familiar with who she is other than reading today that she was a Total Request Live host back in the day, and I am not much of a fan of Ben Affleck or any movie he’s ever starred in.
Now, if your response to that video footage is to angrily declare Ben’s displayed behavior there to be “rapey,” I’m gonna assume you’re an SJW or someone who hasn’t spent much time in taverns and bars or someone who can’t discern between a serious threat and an annoyance. Why? First off, Hilarie was FLIRTING BACK WITH him. Observe the hair tossing, the girlish giggling, putting her arm around him as well, coquettishly nuzzling in toward his neck and chest. THAT’S NOT SEXUAL HARASSMENT, YOU NUMBSKULLS. That’s two idiots flirting! That’s what it looks like. Plain and simple.
“But he’s a douche-nozzle!” you say. Okay. Yeah, I agree. His tactics wouldn’t appeal to a woman like me, but to each her own. Obviously appealed to THAT woman, and that’s all that matters in this particular scenario. Ever been around jocks and cheerleaders? No? Well, they behave in a similar dumb fashion. The guy says crude and stupid shit and the girl giggles and plays with her hair and sits in his lap and laughs at his retarded jokes. Then he knocks her up and they live happily ever after, until they divorce. Welcome to it. Happens ALL the time, folks.
Oh, but I can hear it now. “Retarded??!!” Yeah, I said it, because it’s a useful word. Ben said something similar there also. You don’t have to like it. If it offends you, then okay. Great. Don’t hang around guys like Ben Affleck then (or me either, for that matter). Chalk it up to incompatibility and move on if it bothers you oh-so-badly.
Ya know, since Trump said what he said and the mainstream media collectively lost their minds, and now Harvey Weinstein has shown himself to be a piece of shit, people out here in the public (especially on social media) are losing their shit in trying to drum up a witch hunt (once again!) over anything and everything they possibly can construe as sexual harassment or inappropriate. And it’s a real shame since it detracts from ACTUAL cases of severe wrongdoing. Harvey Weinstein sounds like an ass, and what made him particularly problematic was how much power he personally wielded in Hollywood. Had he been some random schmuck in a neighborhood tavern behaving as he did, he probably would’ve been slapped plenty and few would’ve pussy-footed around calling the guy out on being a perverted asshole. But with money and fame and power comes privilege. Some folks do aspire to work in Hollywood and therefore will tolerate jerks like him in order to do so. That’s not cool. Wish it wasn’t the case. But you wanna know how you do NOT address matters of that magnitude? By pretending that anything and everything under the sun qualifies as matters of that magnitude. Like some of you are trying to do with this clip of Ben Affleck merely acting like a fraternity house dumbass.
Geez. I’m beginning to wonder if the majority of people on social media truly are just that naive. Is it because so many of them are young? Too little life experience? Too pampered and protected of an upbringing? Where have all the older web surfers gone?
Look, there are dangerous sexual deviants out here in society. And then there are opportunistic jerks, a number of whom inhabit positions of power. Yes, they can impact people in all sorts of ways, from causing them to not get hired or to lose their job, to ruining their reputation, to actually harassing them, and even occasionally going so far as doing real physical harm to them. Hence why it’s very important that people learn to discern. Not all jerks are created equal. Not all are serial rapists without a conscience (in fact, most aren’t). Not all even expect to get their way despite their advances. Some even respect you all the more when you do stand up to them and call them on their bullshit. Some will say offensive stuff but that doesn’t mean they will physically attack you. Then there are others who will play up to you and pretend to be a close confidante only to later learn they were working against your best interests from the start. Lots of different types of jerks out here in society.
When it comes to us as women and how we conduct ourselves, I’m admittedly growing very frustrated with so many women acting as if we possess no agency. As if just because a man tells you to do something means you must do it. As if we somehow lost the ability to say “NO!” and mean it and to back it up with actions. Unless you’re physically overpowered and made to do something against your will, your will remains intact and it’s a choice as to how you decide to act. If an old pervert groping you is unappealing, then don’t let him do so. I’ve had old men grope me when I was younger a few more times than I care to recount, and yes, I understand that some are obstinate asses who don’t like to take “no” for an answer. But to hell with them. If they want a fight, give it to them. But don’t just collapse into their arms and then later pretend like you had no choice. That’s bullshit for any adult to claim, and it’s a BIG part of the reason women aren’t taken seriously enough. And not just by men but also by other women. We don’t respect one another due to this double-speaking/double-acting, underhanded BS.
Understand this: The rest of the world CANNOT READ YOUR MIND. Super important to comprehend that. If you don’t say it OUT LOUD and make it clear through your body language, then others can’t be expected to know what you’re thinking and feeling inside. We can’t. Sorry folks, but there’s a barrier around all of our brains making our own minds our own exclusive property. Nobody else can get in there. So we have to outwardly project what it is we’re wanting to get across. If you don’t want to sleep with someone, tell him/her so and act in accordance. If a big-shot guy jerking off in a potted plant is offensive to you (as it understandably would be for most of us), then let it be known. Best to directly tell the person you’re dealing with, but if you truly are afraid to do so then tell somebody else who can possibly assist you in handling the matter (if you find it to be that important to do so).
Now, I’d argue that not all matters always need major handling. Sometimes we choose to keep matters to ourselves. Other times we warn our friends and acquaintances to keep away from a jerk and that’s about the best we can do. Certainly not everything is a criminal matter, nor is everything needing to be aired publicly. Totally depends on the situation. Scary guy truly acting rapey and menacing and threatening calls for a different approach than an idiot like Ben Affleck snuggling against you while drunk or high (or whatever he was on). As should seem obvious. Different problems = different tools needed in handling them.
I do get disappointed when reading about celebrity women who have power in their own right acting as if they’re too afraid to speak up on their own behalves or for other women who may be enduring worse treatment. The reason being that many of these same celebrity women are quick to lecture the rest of us out in society about our moral duties and push their political views. Meryl Streep immediately springs to mind, as does Ashley Judd. Celebrities are merely humans too, it’s true, but they’re humans with major platforms and a whole lot of influence and big followings and a lot of money and connections. Doesn’t make them more moral than any of us though. Some might argue the opposite tends to be true more often than not, and I lean that way myself in assessing the situation. Hence why I opt to vote with my dollars by NOT subscribing to cable television, rarely going to movie theaters, and rarely giving a damn what any celebrity has to say on political matters. They are ACTORS by trade, which calls for a personality type capable of suspending judgement, disbelief, and reason. They’re also surrounded by a bunch of other actors much of the time. Plus, they’re vying to arrive at and belong within the big league, with hopes of making millions of dollars based on their charismatic skills and physical appearances. So it doesn’t surprise me terribly that their discernment capacities tend to be wonky. Given enough years to observe ample examples of actors’ and actresses’ publicly displayed behaviors and choices and flippant reversals in brazenly expressed opinions and moral outrage, youngens too will likely cease being so easily surprised by much out of them anymore as well.
Some say this Harvey Weinstein fiasco will lead to the “draining of the swamp” in Hollywood, but I highly doubt it. Isn’t the first time a scumbag was exposed and won’t be the last. Look how many times it’s happened among politicians and yet that swamp remains firmly intact. Glad to see Harvey Weinstein step down from a position of power (though long overdue) since he demonstrated irresponsible immaturity in handling that role. But aside from that, I’m seeing mostly virtue signaling out of most in the mainstream media and on social media. People trying to distance themselves from him because now it’s the popular thing to do. Republicans and Democrats at it like usual, slinging mud at one another and crying foul, forever attempting to discredit one another’s parties (as if either is worth defending these days). Why isn’t Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama getting outraged at this news about their “friend”? Likely because they knew all along and aren’t all that different from him themselves. Birds of a feather…
Is it such a major surprise that Hollywood is filled with opportunistic perverts? Really? Or Washington D.C.? Come on, folks. None of this is new. And it won’t be stopped simply because we engage in dialogues about it either. Shaming people impacts specific individuals, not the system in place itself. Why? Because a lot of this comes back to human nature, not only in the types who prove most ambitious and vie for power but also in all of us in how we tend to swoon in the face of charismatic people and give them what they want. I believe that cycle is destined to repeat again and again and again, regardless of what changes we might try to make to the political structure or how many “diversity” courses we come to require in this field or that corporation. The best we can probably hope for is to learn to govern our own selves better as individuals, to choose whom we associate with more wisely, to figure out how to pick the battles most worth fighting, and to not compromise our principles (even—or most especially—when confronted with opportunities for financial enrichment and an enticing increase in popularity, power, and influence). But those are very tough lessons for humans to reckon with. Been trying to for thousands of years and don’t appear to have made much real progress thus far. It’s a perennial battle within and across members of our species, and it too promises to go on and on and on into the unforeseeable future.
Doesn’t sound like the happy ending you were searching for? Well, welcome to it. This is life. Nobody promised us a rose garden or claimed this shit would be easy and straight-forward or that all would shake out fairly or even that it would make a whole lot of sense. It simply is what it is. Figure out for yourself how to navigate in life most effectively, acknowledging that we won’t all prove to be on the same team or living in accordance with the same morals and beliefs, as should be obvious by now. Sell your soul for money and fame if you want to, but understand that there will be some sort of consequences. If you treat others poorly, then don’t be surprised when they eventually turn on you and aim to ruin everything you’ve ever built. Of course you can wind up targeted without having actually done anything wrong (or at least not terribly wrong according to some standards — Edward Snowden and James Damore spring to mind) — happens often enough. We’d like to think the greedy and cruel always get their comeuppances, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. Just as good folks aren’t always rewarded. Such is life…
BUT, in order to bring about more fairness and justice, our only real option is to begin with our own selves and how we behave toward others. We’re all sinners and wimps, but that’s not all we are, or at least it needn’t be. Lots of grey area in this life, which provides us lots of opportunities to learn and grow and explore. Much of the time when we strike out in indignation against some stranger whom we don’t even know outside of news stories, we’re doing so because it’s tripped some recognition within our own selves that we’d rather not confront. I believe this to be true much of the time. So when I read of all these supposedly outraged strangers on the internet getting up in arms over a Hollywood big-wig and other actors or over some words spoken by Trump years back, I have to wonder what we’re really reacting to here. What people we don’t personally know have done or said, or how that resonates within parts of ourselves that makes us uncomfortable? Willing to bet about 50% of the time people are freaking out because they don’t want their own little dark secrets to ever see light, so they pretend that they have none through loudly declaring the “bad guy” to be oh-so-bad over and over again. Deflects attention away from oneself. Drowns out our own nervousness. Very common tactic. Those pangs of weirdness and shame offer an opportunity for introspection for those willing to explore their own abyss. Much more fruitful, IMO, than simply focusing all energy outward in perpetual judgement of others.
Anyway, before I completely slide off topic here, I’ll end with this. Want to drain the swamp of Hollywood? It’s easier to do than draining the swamp of D.C. All you have to do is starve it off financially. Quit giving it money. Quit paying to watch movies by producers you don’t respect, showcasing actors you claim to have moral qualms with. Just quit it. Quit clicking on their twitter feeds or gossiping about what they’re up to. Do your due diligence on where you’re spending your money to better ensure that your expenditures align with your professed values. Don’t want to support and promote womanizing jerks who abuse potted plants? Okay, then quit buying products and services that line such people’s pockets.