So much just occurred to me about our cultural zeitgeist regarding sexual abuse; my own watershed amidst the watershed. It happened when I learned Matt Damon is shutting his mouth after comments he made regarding the rampant Hollywood sexual abuse. After originally stating that there should be gradients of punishment for the sexual abuse offenders, he’s now conceding that he wasn’t a good listener in the first place, and needed to stop talking and just listen to the pain and suffering many women experience. To me, he sounds like someone who is now the victim of abuse, placating his aggressors to lessen the upcoming blows.
Since the whole sexual abuse watershed began, justice had been on my mind. Not in the abstract or theoretical sense, but in the practical sense; every misdemeanor and crime has gradients, whether it be stealing from someone empty-handedly or with a weapon, or killing someone accidentally or intentionally. One could argue that one of the reasons our lengthy legal process is so lengthy is to ensure the right gradient of punishment is applied to the right gradient of transgression. All that I can understand, at least to a point—putting off controversial trials for a year or so, to occlude the witnesses memory is another issue altogether. (I’ll never claim our legal system is fully reasonable). Isn’t it commonplace for modern justice systems to make the punishment proportionate to the crime through fully examining the evidence? What further baffles me is how the liberals have been so concerned that the justice system is biased against minorities and members of historically marginalized groups, yet they now promote the very thing they despise: righteous indignation and a witch hunt for a particular group.
That group is now men.
At this point it’s only an ideological witch hunt. This baffles and saddens me because the civil rights zeitgeist started in the 60’s was all about promoting women and blacks to be seen as living, breathing human beings and not simply objects used by the privileged. There were certainly flaws in this cultural movement, in that one can’t identify as part of a group but still demand to be treated as an individual, however, I understand the spirit of that movement: they just wanted to be treated as people, and I respect that. But for the moment, I’ll set that issue aside.
Multiple women dismissed Damon’s original comments by claiming he was “mansplaining,” and lessening the impact of the abuse. I’m guessing Damon and his wife talked about the severe backlash to his original comments, and that if he pressed on he’d suffer a career assassination that would inevitably hurt his family. Mind you, he never sexually abused anyone, and was a vocal proponent of battling it, yet, it became clear that anyone who doesn’t placate or conform to the acceptable vision of how to interpret sexual abuse becomes viewed as a Leni Riefenstahl, the video propagandist for the Third Reich: Riefenstahl may not have gassed anyone, but she didn’t stop the evil!! So anyone who doesn’t cower to this majority vision, no matter how rational, is now viewed as part of the problem.
Since when does rational observation or argumentation automatically classify one as complicit to, and enabler of, evil or amorality? I know, I know…when the majority is comprised of such irrational and ideological visions that they dismiss opposition, whether it be data, objective arguments, or even being recorded, of course that majority will mark rationality as a red flag. I’m starting to think that the current ideological visions are too strong to be overcome, and, much like Yoda going into hiding because the Empire was growing too strong, rationality and objectivity are going to suppress themselves in best effort to survive.
The ideological army’s response to Damon’s simple, rational statements initially frustrated, annoyed, and admittedly scared me a little, but shortly thereafter I experienced a certain calm. Like a friend is always telling me, accepting reality gives you more energy because you’re not mounting some Sisyphean struggle. Is that pessimistic? No, because pessimism is a willing attachment to negativity. It’s merely realistic to accept that the current cultural zeitgeist is so irrational that even rational statements like Damon’s will be condemned. I never thought that accepting the state of irrationality and socio-political histrionics could create such a placid state, but who knows, maybe something broke inside of me. I suspect not, because if something did break, I wouldn’t be writing this, or anything else, for that.
Damon’s placative apology (Am I the only one who’s getting tired of these quivering, self-effacing apologies?) revealed that he felt compelled to articulate how honorable in spirit he thought the #MeToo movement is. Why does this movement need people to publicly admit how honorable and righteous it is? Shit, if actresses didn’t wear black dresses to the recent Golden Globes, they were roasted. But what’s really funny and ironic about that whole mess is that the president of the foreign press association, Meher Tatna, wore a red dress, because in her native country, India, red is viewed as we view black; formal, austere, classy. So a big whoops to the ideological diversity on that one. As such, the current ideological diversity is much less diverse than actual diversity, which, at the risk of mansplaining, is something they’re going to have to deal with. If it were truly diverse, then people like Damon would be supported in speaking their minds even though the content of their views is opposed. Nonetheless, Damon’s apology revealed that the current movement is driven by extroverts demanding, much like the Catholic Church, that other people conform to it or “something might happen.” I tend to think that the imaginary conversation I’m assuming Damon had with his wife included this, because they saw the writing on the wall that what he said didn’t matter, because it was a he who said it.
This windily gets me to my point, and is probably why I have a newfound solace regarding the irrational zeitgeist sweeping our culture. If we’re going to get anywhere with any of these hashtag movements, be it #MeToo or #TimesUp or whatever, we need to pivot our attitude of men away from them being an ideology evoking patriarchy, power, rape, etc., and toward being living, breathing people. Some feminists are starting to make this argument, and I applaud them for that.
I’m not saying every single man is articulate or clear-headed, but that’s the point: not every man is a Weinstein-esque pig. There are plenty of men out there who agree with these movements and think they can add things to bolster them, but are oppressed out of claims they are “mansplaining.” This is why these movements are their own worst enemy, and, to make a predication, will ultimately fail if they don’t become balanced and rational.