I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of sexual harassment complaints pouring out of Hollywood–and politics as well. The pace seems to have slowed down, but it’s still soul-crushing to realize how many predators there are out there and how much we accept it as a given in our society. I’ve heard the variant of ‘men are dogs’ and ‘that’s just the way men are’. I heartily protest because I’ve known plenty of men not like this, and I think more of men than many men do. In addition, it gives an excuse for the horrible behavior. If we shrug our shoulders and say, “Men are trash,” well, then, there’s nothing we can do about it, is there?
I don’t disagree that men (and women, too!) have biological urges that can be powerful at times. However, I most heartily disagree that men can’t control these urges. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a comely person and thinking, “I’d tap that ass.” I, myself, have done it many times. But because I’m a woman who has been heavily trained that one simpy must not think those thoughts, let alone speak them, I can keep them to myself when it’s inappropriate to share them. I heard an interesting interview on NPR with a transgender man, and one thing that really bothered him was how once he started taking the T (testosterone), he was driven almost cazy with lustfully thoughts. If I remember correctly, he was given two to three times the amount of testosterone of the ‘typical’ man, and it became difficult for him to control his desires. He said he was so conflicted about it because when he was a she and a lesbian, she prided herself on being a feminist of the utmost order. Once the T was coursing through him, if he saw a pretty woman, all he could think about was fucking her.
Even so, he never attacked a woman, which is my point. No matter how powerful are the urges, it is up to the person to control them. I’ve had powerful sexual attractions to the ‘wrong’ person, and I’ve sublimated them, sometimes with great difficulty. The thing is, you have to set firm boundaries with the object of your affection in order you don’t tip over into grossness. I’m wandering far from the intent of this post, though.
When the news about Harvey Weinstein broke, I was completely disgusted, but not entirely surprised. Then, the other perps were revealed at a fast and furious pace. I noticed that I was having a different reaction based on who the perp was, what he did, and how he reacted to being found out. Oh, and also how I originally felt about him.
It actually started with Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian interviewer. I really liked his style of asking thoughtful, probing questions and eliciting complex responses. Plus, he was very easy on the eyes, and a PoC , and I could listen to his voice all day long. I remember I was at Ian’s place when I read the FB post Ghomeshi wrote as a head’s up that shit was about to get real. I read it, and while it was full of vague platitudes, I got the general gist. When I read the part about him talking about his crazy ex-girlfriend who had a vendetta against him, I turned to Ian and said, “He did it. Whatever is coming, he did it.” I didn’t know what ‘it’ was because Ghomeshi was so vague, but I knew by his phrasing that it was bad by how much he was getting ahead of the issue and how heavily he was leaning on the ‘bitches be cray’ excuse.
And it was bad. The stories came pouring out about how he was a predator and abused his position in order to sexually assault women. It went all the way back to the days at uni. Older women would tell the first years not to be alone with him. Seriously. He was that well-known for being a creeper. More and more came out how CBC covered up for him, and it was terrible. I was so disgusted, and it changed how I literally viewed Ghomeshi. Before all this cam out, I thought he was sexy as hell. I wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed for eating crackers is what I’m saying. After I found out all the terrible shit he did, I couldn’t look at him without being disgusted. I could see the dissolution on his face, and I couldn’t believe I had ever found him attractive. I felt hurt and betrayed (although I realized that was an irrational reaction).
Kevin Spacey pissed me off because he coupled coming out with an apology for his creeper behavior. Yeah, way to throw gays under the bus. Asshole. I had no love for him in the first place, but it still pissed me off. Matt Lauer grossed me out, but it wasn’t a surprise at all. He always had that vibe to me. Charlie Rose upset me greatly, and I could go on and on. I won’t, though, because it’s just making me upset again. I want to focus on two who really hit me hard. First is Al Franken, my senator. Sigh. When the first incident came out, I was perturbed, but thought, maybe it’s the only–yeah, no. More stories came out, and Franken’s response was dispiriting. His apologies rang hollow, and even when he resigned, he said something like, “I am well aware of the irony that as I’m resigning, we have someone like the president and Roy Moore running for the senate.” Yeah, no. He fucking lost any right to the higher ground when he went around grabbing strange women by the ass.
I was and am severely disappointed in Al Franken. Is what he did as heinous as what Weinstein did? Of course not. I don’t think anyone is saying the two are the same. However, the mentality from Franken and other people that this is just a shrug and a nod pisses me the fuck off. The thing that bothers me the most about Franken is how many people including him is downplaying his behavior. The fact that grabbing a woman’s ass is considered tame or no big deal tells me a lot about our society. I really want to ask these people where they draw the line. Grabbing a woman’s ass is no biggie. What about her tits? How about caressing the ass instead of just grabbing it? Slapping that ass? Poking the pussy? My tone is flippant, but my question is sincere. Where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable nonconsensual groping? Seriously. Are we really saying some nonconsensual groping is OK? That is, indeed, what we seem to be saying.
Franken had to resign for more than one reason. One, if he hadn’t, we lose any moral high ground we profess to have. We believe victims–until we like the accused! Then, bitches and hoes, amirite? I felt the same about Bill Clinton, and I still feel that way about him. I also think he’s a disgusting sleaze, but I’m well-aware I’m a minority of Democrats in thinking this. In addition, what Franken did was wrong. If it was just a one-off, I could see saying, “OK. A very bad move and a bad decision on his part, but one lapse.” That’s IF he had fallen over himself in apologizing, which he most certainly did not. That’s another reason he had to resign–he didn’t realize what he did was wrong. Not really. He was more interested in deflecting and keeping his job. I’m not arguing he didn’t do good as a senator. He did! I voted for him twice, hesitantly the first time and gladly the second. That’s what makes me so disappointed in him. He is one of the last men I would expect to hear this about AND to double down when called out on it.
I understand being upset that Democrats try to do the right thing when these things happen and Republicans just laugh and move on. I understand that it’s hard to lose a senator as august as Franken, but he should have kept his fucking hands to himself. Seriously. Put the onus where it belongs. On him.
Finally. Sigh. Louis CK. I haven’t talked much about him since his shit came out because I loved his comedy. I’ve quoted him ad nauseam, and I really appreciated how much of himself he put into his comedy. I found his comedy thoughtful and thought-provoking and eminently relatable. His whole schlub routine was endearing, but after finding out what he’s done to female comics, it just felt grotesque. His whole shtick is predicated on what a hapless loser he is, which is exactly what his actions have proven he is. I don’t think it was premeditated, but thinking about his comedy now feels as if I was an unwitting participant in his grossness. I’m so angry at Louis CK, I can barely articulate my rage. I’ll have more on this later.