(Puts up feet on table in a sage fashion.)
Well, it has been a fun (glances at watch) three months that we have been doing this thing where we stop letting harassment and assault get swept under the rug, and it has been nice, certainly, to watch those tumbrils of condemned men rolling through the streets toward the guillotine (or, as she is all-too-aptly termed, the Hungry Lady!), but I think we must be reasonable now and stop before any more good men are made to suffer. Before all future films are robbed of that certain je ne sais quoi, that frisson, that — other French word, which gives them their palpable raw erotic charge.
You understand of course what I am saying.
I was sitting at a luncheon the other day when a friend casually remarked, “When is this #MeToo nonsense going to end? When will movies be sexy again?”
“Indeed,” I said. It was not that I am clairvoyant, although I am literally clairvoyant. But now, you see, it is ending. Or at least, I would like it to be ending, which is much the same thing.
When we were only coming for people who had actually done bad things and, indeed, admitted as much, it was fine. But now we are going into bars and scooping up any men who have done anything, be it ever so slight: a smile, a look, forcing a woman to live under his desk in a secret room and refusing to tell her what year it is, offenses of WILDLY DIFFERENT DEGREES that I am just lumping together as though I think all of them might be possibly acceptable if you did them outside the office.
First they came for men I did not like, some of whom had beards that did not look good, others of whom were conservative media personalities, and still others of whom combined those characteristics. But then it started to spread until we were even ruining the careers of people who were accused of minor offenses, like saying “good morning” with a weird emphasis, or eating a sandwich while maintaining eye contact with someone who wasn’t their wife, or emailing a woman a respectful compliment.
Oh no, have none of these things happened? My mistake. I am worried that they will, which is just as bad.
My point is, there is a spectrum. There are some things that are not as bad as other things — yet these feminists don’t agree! There is no distinction made. (That is, there have been distinctions made, but this could cease at any moment.)
There was an anonymous list, definitely to be used as a weapon in the inevitable War on Men, not just as a tool to be shared among people who wanted to know whom to avoid when they were trying to make their way in their chosen field. Now a small part of the patriarchy is at risk. And let me say this for the patriarchy: It has never done anything to me, and I think we should consider that before we sentence it to death.
This needs to stop, the sooner the better. It is exactly like what has happened in the past with Joseph McCarthy: The Senate is forming a committee and rounding up people suspected of seditious anti-American activities. Well, that is to say, it isn’t quite like that, but there is a list involved, and every time a list is involved I know whom they will come for next. This is why Santa is so frowned-upon in my household.
I understand that there is a problem, but women need to stop being victims. There are two ways for this to happen: One is for men to stop harassing women. Another is for women just to ignore the problem and carry on. That second approach has been tried for many years and was, I thought, successful. Let’s go back to that. It is much easier for women to stop complaining than it is for men to have to change their behavior and give them the basic respect they accord colleagues they do not want to sleep with.
Once someone tried to harass Margaret Thatcher, and she hit him with an ax and said, “NOT ON MY WATCH, YOU SCALAWAG, OR I WILL DO TO YOU WHAT I HAVE DONE TO THE ECONOMY.” This is another correct way to proceed, and more women should take a page from her book. (All women are in a position to do this and suffer no consequences. They should not think twice.)
What’s worse, movies are being ruined by all of this nonsense. There is nothing less erotic, if we must be frank, than consent (a process that I assume involves a lot of paperwork). I know “consent” cannot simply mean that both parties demonstrably want something to be happening before they proceed, or it would be alarming that it was not included in everything before.
The foundation of every romantic comedy ever made is workplace harassment. Movies are full of women who are just trying to do their jobs and a man won’t stop hitting on them, from “His Girl Friday” to the present day. That is half the charm of James Bond, as a franchise.
Eros is a one-sided relationship between a man and an object. If this is taken from us, what will remain? Literally nothing. At least, I cannot think of anything, which I assume is the same.
What about the chase? What about when you hunt women with bows across your immense private forest and if they do not outrun you they must live as your concubine for a thousand days? What about the traditions of courtship, of primae noctis? Where is the room for that? Where is the presumption of innocence? Where is the reassuring sense that you can pretty much do what you like as long as you mean well, and it will be understood that you are not making anyone’s life worse?
Enough is enough, I say, and mean. I read something by a French person that said “ONE DAY MORE,” and that is what I think men deserve. Let us return to business as usual now, before any more valuable masculine careers are damaged. There is nothing brave about any of this speaking out. It is just a mob. No one criticizes or threatens women who speak in public, certainly not myself, right now.