What goes around comes around.
Right now it is a he said / he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago. But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.
No, this isn’t Roy Moore. It’s not some college guy you never heard of being burned at the Title IX stake. It’s the paragon of social justice, George Takei. And just like any other person accused, he deserves the opportunity to challenge his accuser, to deny his commission of the offense and to not be punished for it before being proven guilty.
Some, like Louis CK, have decided to admit their guilt, which may reflect some sincere acknowledgement of their wrongful conduct, or may be the better path in crisis management. Others, like Harvey Weinstein, have been thrown under the bus by their own “adviser,” and are trying to fight back a tidal wave.
Onlookers span the gamut of schadenfreude to facile condemnation. The right is busy using these accusations against Hollywood progressives to argue their hypocrisy. The left is thanking its lucky stars that Roy Moore intervened so that they had something to say in response. As for Bill Clinton and Teddy Kennedy, they’re ancient history so they don’t count. Like Christopher Columbus and Robert E. Lee.
And while the two teams are pulling every .gif and .jpeg out of their saved folder to win the battle of memes and snark, women are poking at will because they’re not in today’s crosshairs and this proves that masculinity is toxic, rape culture is rampant, the patriarchy is literally awful and all men are rapists.
Would it be wrong to suggest everyone stop battling for their team and take a deep breath? Of course it would. That’s not how things work anymore. But the mob is on a roll and Kevin Spacey is out. Women have never before had such an opportunity to use their allies, a few of whom turn out to be more useful under the bus than on it, to push their cries without fear of backlash. After all, it’s not that women haven’t engaged in sexual improprieties before, but nobody is talking about it now, so it’s like it never happened.
While many try desperately to make this into a political thing, to show that the other team is far more disgusting than yours, few are considering the ramifications for tomorrow and the next day. Beneath the accusations is a core attack on men. This isn’t that some men did terrible things. This is that men are terrible. And the ramification of this is that women are therefore better.
This is not an argument for equality, but for supremacy. Whatever men can do, women can do at least as well, if not better. But they’re not a bunch of rapists, seizing their position of power to force men to acquiesce to their sexual perversions.
Whether or not you agree with this stance, it’s not a tenable position. Putting aside that there are a lot of men in America, and most of us have not been accused of any sexual impropriety (yet), don’t have a desire to masturbate in front of other people and choose to behave like gentlemen, we’re disinclined to don sackcloth for either Moore or Weinstein.
And as George Takei has suddenly realized, accusations are too easily made. Yes, false accusations are “personally painful,” making your prior calls to “believe the accuser” no matter what a serious problem. I forgive you, George. Few people appreciate the fallacy of their beliefs until they turn around to bite them in the ass.
Will the mob turn on women next, perhaps going after Lena Dunham for shoving pebbles into her little sister’s vagina? Or will the mob turn on some other group, maybe blacks, or even transgender people for some as yet unknown outrage? Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
But this extant trend against toxic masculinity, against all males because they’re sex animals, will ultimately produce a backlash. As bad as some of these Hollywood and Alabama guys may be, most of us aren’t in a position of power over you, don’t engage in sexual impropriety, and like George Takei, don’t plan to apologize for unproven accusations from decades ago. We’re not going to start painting our toenails, replace bacon with kale or stay home, wear rompers and put our hair up in buns, and nurture the kids.
If the thrust of this is to alter the sexual dynamic of the gender wars, it’s already a big mess. Ordinary young men are afraid to say hi to a woman in a bar for fear she’ll start screaming harassment, if he’s lucky, or rape if he’s not. Your magical desires that men you want to approach you will feel your ziff waves, while men you don’t will back away quietly, isn’t going to happen.
On the job, employers have no clue how to create an environment that won’t hurt the most delicate feelings of the most sensitive female employee. They wouldn’t hire you, except that they’ll go viral for not having the correct percentage of women. They just want to do business, and you make that increasingly hard by finding something to be offended about under every management decision.
Most of us have behaved poorly at some point in our past. Whether any particular accusation is true, however, remains a matter of proof, not mere accusation. This is true for people on the right and left. This is true for men and women. This is true for all of us. Nobody is so pure that we are entitled to cast the first stone.
But while women may want desperately to win this battle, the victory will be Pyrrhic. Even if masculinity is toxic, you’re still going to need someone to open that pickle jar. Men who have engaged in proven sexual improprieties should be held accountable for them. Women who are proven to have engaged in improprieties of whatever sort as well. We’re all people, and we do better surviving with each other than being at war.
I’m going to watch the football game this afternoon. I’m not going to listen to you tell me how you feel for a couple hours instead. George Takei might have done so. I will not. But I will defend George from punishment for unproven accusations, just as I would defend anyone else regardless of politics. And I would hope that George will now understand why he’s been wrong, hypocritical, all this time, and that everyone deserves fairness. Now, take that deep breath and have a nice day.