Weinstein, Ratner, Toback, Etc

Another day and another dude in the entertainment industry accused of sexual assault and harassment: Today it’s Brett Ratner, who six women accused of impropriety in a Los Angeles Times article, including actress Natasha Henstridge, who recounts an encounter two decades ago that basically amounts to rape, and Olivia Munn, toward whom Ratner has been pretty much a horny shit for more than a decade now. It’s been a pattern that once a few substantive accusations are out there more come forward (see: Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Bill Cosby), so I don’t expect the next several days are going to be very happy ones for Ratner. Nor should they be.

I imagine it’s likewise a very uncomfortable time for a lot of men in the entertainment industry right now, as they search their own pasts, recalling incidents that they are probably hoping to God are not dredged up toward the light of day by the women (or men! Or non-binary folk!) they’ve been horrible to, as the “whisper network” stops being whispery and starts talking out loud and unafraid. Ratner is the most recent powerful man in this particular barrel, but it’s deeply doubtful he’s going to be the last.

I don’t doubt it’s uncomfortable for everyone else in the industry, too, for all sorts of reasons. Let me explain it in personal terms: Currently I have several projects in various stages of development for television and film, mostly with people I’ve met with and liked but fundamentally know very little about except through the scope of their work. I am praying that none of them has been carrying on as a creepy, harassing piece of shit. Because, aside from all the very serious problems with that, there’s the extra added concern of what it will mean for the aforementioned projects, which would then have a radioactive person attached to them who no one will want to do business with, if not for ethics then for optics. I have ethical and also purely business-related reasons for hoping my associates are not fucking creeps. Multiply my position by everyone in entertainment right now, and you see the problem.

(And to be fair, the problem is in both directions: The people I have my options with know me mostly through my work, too. They don’t know what I’m doing in the rest of my personal and professional life, either, or whether or not I’m a creepy creep who creeps creeptastically, and my creepularity has simply just not been revealed to them — the “whisper network” doesn’t reach to where they are. I’ve not been asked to attest that I’m not a harassing piece of shit. They’re taking it on faith that I’m not.)

So basically everyone in entertainment right now, you could say, has the smallest inkling of what it’s like to be a woman in the entertainment industry, and not to know whether the person you’re meeting with will blow up your project or your career because of their behavior. Let’s not overextend the simile — the chances I or lots of other dudes will face a “casting couch” situation to get a project made approaches zero, for example — but certainly the question of “who are you really and how will who you are hurt me and my goals?” is one lots of people are asking in a different way these last several weeks.

On a vaguely-related note, someone sent along a bit from a detractor of mine who was hoping that I would be outed as a harassing creep because wouldn’t that be perfect, ha ha ha. Which will tell you two things: One, I don’t need to seek out people saying awful things about me because people feel free to send those along, so I have a crowd-sourced clipping service of people being shitty to me; and two, my detractors are terrible people.

This fellow is going to be disappointed, I think. Consent is important to me, and historically speaking I’ve been able to take “no” for an answer. Likewise I make an effort not be a harassing shithead of a dude (spoiler: It’s not that difficult to make that effort). I try to live my life so that people don’t feel like I’m just waiting for the right moment to be a creepy fuck to them.

With that said: Are there times I might have made someone uncomfortable, or said or did something they found creepy? Yes, probably! I’m not perfect and as I’ve written about before, the decision as to what’s creepy rests with the other person, not me (or you). So it’s certainly possible something I’ve done or said rang some worry bells in someone else’s head, and they prefer not to be near me or have anything to do with me. In which case a) totally fair, and b) I’m sorry.

Which is all easy to say, mind you. One of the things that the recent weeks has done is to cause me to go back and really look at how I have interacted with people, particularly women, over the years. I can think of times now where I’ve revised my opinion of my past actions downward (how I dealt with my long-term crush in high school is one example — I used to think it was puppy-dog swoonish and now I think it’s a little sad and creepy), and others in more contemporary times where I feel like I can do better and will try to. I think at least some of my detractors are of the opinion that I hold myself up as a paragon of perfect behavior and thought, and, well. Let’s just say I live in my own mind and know it better than they do. Trust me, I’m so not perfect. But I do try to be decent to people, and that’s a constant process.

(I do have a useful rule of thumb, with my actions toward other people and with life in general, which is: Is this something I’d tell Krissy about? If this answer is anything other than “yes, of course, unreservedly,” then there’s a problem, which, incidentally, is a cue for me to talk to her about it right then. You would be surprised — or possibly you wouldn’t — at how useful this rule has been over the years. You may also assume that there’s very little my wife doesn’t know about me.)

To go back to the entertainment industry, none of this is done yet: More people (mostly dudes) are going to be exposed for their harassing and assaulting actions, and even more people are going to have their lives and livelihoods thrown up in the air because of the fallout. It’s necessary but it’s going to be a mess. And it all could have been easily avoided. All it takes is not harassing, assaulting or treating other people like shit. Try doing that, entertainment dudes! You’ll be (tragically) surprised how effective it is.

148 thoughts on “Weinstein, Ratner, Toback, Etc

  1. Notes:

    1. Mallet out, be polite to each other.

    2. If you’re of the conservative persuasion and you want to get smug and schadenfreudilicious about the liberal entertainment industry having a harassment/assault problem — well, go ahead, it’s a freebie. But be aware that just because the spotlight is on the entertainment industry doesn’t mean that other industries (including ones considered generally conservative) don’t have the same problem. They do. Male entitlement is orthogonal to liberal/conservative politics, generally speaking.

    2.5. (Also note that publishing in general and the SF/F genre has had its share of harassing pieces of shit. Again: this problem is everywhere.)

    3. If Kevin Spacey shows us anything, it’s that harassing/assaulting behavior isn’t just limited to “by men, to women,” so if that a thing you’re going to bring up in a comment, consider it read. But let’s also not pretend that “by men, to women” isn’t going to be a majority slice of the issue and that all sort of issues with that dynamic come into play.

  2. Right now, the Baltimore acting community is reeling because the Spacey revelation means that they are out of work — House of Cards is kaput, and their jobs with it.

    I’m sure there are a lot of cast and crew throughout Hollywood and elsewhere who are nervous about projects and jobs dying because of all the fallout. I’m glad I’m not in the position to have to wonder “If I speak up about [director], John the Craft Services guy will be out of a job.”

  3. I pretty much follow the same rule with my wife. It isn’t hard to know what is the right thing to do. Glad to see these bastards may finally be held accountable. No one should be harassed, but I find it really makes me angry to see it happen to women.

  4. As for all the men out there, I feel for you — empathy wise rather than “give you a feel” ! Ha, I don’t believe I have ever felt a stranger’s butt on purpose! Most of us women have had some peculiar incidences, or odd hints, or pat-the-bottom events. I hate to say it but it’s has been a way of life that’s been common, and really we were starting to deal with it before all this rigmarole, on a smaller scale though not enough it seems.
    I really am not looking forward to all the past incidents being ruminated about, or awkward pauses and confessions of various kinds (and gee, do we have to hear about the years ago?) — just another correct issue to bring forward – which, don’t get me wrong, it is ok but — I am tired of it all already.
    The world is fine tuning itself and I’m happy for it. Sometimes I wish I lived beyond the politics of life.

  5. @blaisepascal2014 Yeah that was my thought on hearing the Spacey news. On the one hand, it’s great that his criminal behavior was finally exposed, on the other that’s a whole lot of people suddenly out of work, from Robin Wright on down to the Production Assistants.

  6. The whole harassment-at-cons issue could have been a sort of “out-of-town tryout” for the broader scope now. Were there any business results for cons that could be instructive?

  7. “If you’re of the conservative persuasion and you want to get smug and schadenfreudilicious about the liberal entertainment industry having a harassment/assault problem — well, go ahead, it’s a freebie.”

    I’ve bumped in to rather a lot of this. The depressing thing isn’t that they’re saying “Hahaha! Look at you liberal hypocrites!” They’re saying “Hahaha! You liberals (or some related epithet) are shooting yourselves in the foot by taking this stuff seriously. You should ADMIRE a man who acts like a real man!” The word “cuck” comes up a lot too.

    Seriously reconsidering whether or not I want to live on this planet anymore.

  8. I am disappointed in the number of people saying “I hope this blows over soon so that Kevin can get back to making movies. After all, he didn’t actually hurt the kid…”. I have been quite firm with people who bring up that tripe with me. Am I disappointed to learn this about a favorite movie star? Yes. It’s still sexual assault, against a minor to boot. Yes, 14 is too young. Yes, it’s a crime. I’m sorry that that terrible boy has ruined your movie/tv watching, but guess what, Kevin Spacey made those choices. He is a criminal and a creep. Discuss it with him. The fact that he also chose to couple it with his “coming out” and thereby play into the worst fears people have about gays is also pretty damn bad. He’s scum.

  9. Note re all the out-of-work people post-Spacey — a bunch of have been screaming into the void on social media “Why are you shutting this down when Robin Wright is f’ing amazing, this makes NO sense?!”

    Seriously, it seems just as hard for the entertainment industry (and by extension, other industries) to figure out how NOT to punish OTHER PEOPLE for harassers as to figure out how to not harass people. I mean it all seems super-difficult.

    Women have been punished for their harassers’ actions for years. Perhaps now that the damage happens to other people, this will be remedied and common sense will kick in. I hope so.

  10. The Empire is already gearing up to Strike Back, in the form of loudly publicizing the collateral damage from creepitude: the innocent people whose livelihood or income depends on a project tainted by a creepazoid when the project (if completed) is relegated to the “blech, never consume” dustbin, or out of work when a project-in-progress is shelved because it can’t be un-tainted. Not to mention the people who may see projects NOT greenlighted because the funding for them might have been already eaten up by the process of un-tainting some other project in process from the creepbrush.

    I have even heard rumblings about “Salem Witch Trials” and whether or not a revival of “The Crucible” is in the offing, because so many innocent people are likely to suffer because of all the loud, rude, self-centered (mostly) women who are insisting on all the DRAMA of bringing these ancient over-and-done-with ordeals out of the dustbin and woe is us, this is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

    Let’s Keep It Real with a salutary reminder that, even in a drama-prone industry full of immature egos and spotlight-seekers, the reality is that 2% or less of sexual misconduct charges are false. It’s also interesting to note that since 1989, the National Registry of Exonerations shows only 52 people were exonerated for sexual assault on the basis of false accusations. During the same period, nearly 800 people were exonerated for murder, based on false accusations.

    So, yes, the entertainment industry may be out front on this and facing some painful realignments. It might be helpful to look at this as an opportunity to build tools to help in both preventing future creepitude, and dealing justly with a broad, deeply-entrenched, long-term past of creeperiffic culture.

    If the entertainment industry can do that, I think they’ll be doing a much more broadly-based service because Our Gracious Host is one hundred percent correct: The bag is open and the cats are zooming, and just about every industry that has been shaped by a patriarchal misogynist culture is going to be dealing with the emerging reality.

  11. “just because the spotlight is on the entertainment industry doesn’t mean that other industries (including ones considered generally conservative) don’t have the same problem. They do. Male entitlement”

    … is – from my experience as a ladyperson working in the interstices — usually WORSE in more conservative workplaces like law and politics and finance (all of which are usually entertainment-tangential, as anyone trying to get a project either off the ground,or fully financed, or registered so as to collect the proper share is well aware). In great part that’s because the thought process tends to run something like “They won’t see me over HERE with my hand on her butt – because they’re heavily scrutinizing those writer and director and producer types over THERE, hohoho”. So there’s that.

  12. John, I have to admit that it still blows my mind that you have actual, honest-to-god detractors.
    I mean seriously, what’s the point of trying to tear you down? (Or any other writer, for that matter.)
    They remind me of the character in the Harold Shea stories who comes to the bars of his jailhouse cell every hour to announce, “Yngvi is a louse!”

  13. “If you’re of the conservative persuasion and you want to get smug and schadenfreudilicious about the liberal entertainment industry having a harassment/assault problem — well, go ahead, it’s a freebie.”

    One of the hallmarks of a legitimate news source is a willingness to cover stories that are detrimental to the editorial board’s politics (e.g., will a newspaper that editorially leans Democratic devote equal coverage to a scandal involving a Democrat as to one involving a Republican?)

    As a result, this is a nice opportunity to contrast how left-leaning news outlets are devoting lots of space to scandals involving left-leaning figures with how right-leaning news outlets dealt with similar scandals involving right-leaning figures…

  14. Can anyone explain why so many men now seem to be concerned with “protecting themselves” against false accusations of sexual assault? What’s the reasoning there, given that there are a million more likely career-ruining things that could happen to them?

  15. It’s worth noting that venture capital and prominent startups have been hit in this wave of believing-the-victim, and some, probably not enough, heads have rolled. Uber’s pretty famous now, but Amit Khosla, late of Google, lost his next job because of credible reports of his harassment at Google. https://gizmodo.com/former-google-engineer-blasts-companys-hr-after-sexual-1792802747

    Yes, it’s everywhere, but I find it comforting that bombs are dropping in more sectors of everywhere than I would have expected. See today’s resignation of NPR’s senior vice president for news, Michael Oreskes.

    This wave of revulsion and recognition is going to pass, but I think the tideline’s going to be a lot higher moving on.

  16. This has been a very long time coming, and I hope it won’t stop with just Hollywood. I feel sad for those innocent folks whose projects or work is going to take a hit, but not nearly as sad as I feel for the victims of this crap. It’s going to be a very painful period for Hollywood, but it’s necessary.

  17. @blaisepascal2014 That’s basically what’s caused all this terrible behaviour to be kept under wraps: you have a massive industry (and people working within it) whose success depends on the success of large, fragile, projects which have the reputation of VIPs as single failure points.

    Rocking the boat is tantamount to suicide, because you and everyone around you will suffer if you sink it.

  18. Power structures

    Aaah, power structures, how they do us in.
    Pyramid schemes with open robes at the top,
    A peek or a peck and a rise to new heights,
    A nay or a shrug and a bottomless drop
    to huddle among ruins, gasping for breath
    In air filled with secrets and lies of the past.
    But wait, is that a voice, and another, and another, and still another, until all are shouting and praying?
    Oh no, it can’t be
    And yet it must
    But I never knew, or played along
    At least not that I can remember
    And if I’ve forgotten – well, sorry.

  19. “I’ve not been asked to attest that I’m not a harassing piece of shit. ”

    Ya know… that might not be a bad thing to start asking people before contracts are signed. Especially when the success of the project, and the financial well-being of a lot of interconnected people are dependent on everyone NOT bringing that kind of liability with them. At least it puts the onus on THEM and is a clear notification that this kind of behavior will not be condoned or ignored.

  20. Scalzi says: “…whether or not I’m a creepy creep who creeps creeptastically …”

    Hold the phones here. I thought John’s creep nature was revealed several years ago by the hard hitting journalism of

  21. Had a conversation with an author friend of mine, and she was talking about the gobs of harassment she has had to put up with over the years at various Cons. One guy she told me about bought one of her books, asked if he could get a picture with her, then proceeded to grab her ass during the shoot. She objected, and he was incensed, claiming that since he bought her book, he had the right.

    Seriously… what the fuck?

    I tell you that to tell you this… part of what went on in my head was “This can’t possibly be true. Surely, she is exaggerating.”

    See, that’s the problem women have with reporting this shit. Even people they know and trust don’t always take them at their word. And it’s worse than that… I didn’t doubt her because I thought she was lying. I doubted the story because I couldn’t conceive of a universe where I, or any man I know, would ever act that way. To those of us without that bone in our head that makes us do misogynistic crap like that, we just. don’t. get it.

    She asked what I would do at the next Con where we are sharing a table if I saw someone doing that to her. I told her if I interfere, that might be taking power away from her to handle it herself, and she’s old enough and experienced enough to do that. If, however, she *asks* for my help, I have no qualms about grabbing a rock and joining the fight.

  22. Don’t forget the Media. Same dynamic is unfolding with lightning speed. Just ask Mark Halperin, if you can find him.

  23. jmatchan said, “Ya know… that might not be a bad thing to start asking people before contracts are signed.”

    Spot on. Given the gargantuan sums involved in entertainment projects, this type of inquiry is going become a standard, mandatory part of the due diligence process. Indeed, failure to perform it could be catastrophic.

  24. For some close-up reporting about the economic (and intangible) impact of the suspension of House of Cards production, go to the Baltimore Sun; here’s the latest update as of now, from 8 p.m. yesterday:

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/tv/bs-fe-zontv-house-of-cards-shiutdown-20171031-story.html

    I think Netflix would be smart to turn the season 6 production (which reportedly started about 2 weeks ago) into a sequel series. The existing story had already run out of potential in various ways by the end of season 5, some would say years earlier.

    If Spacey has anything equivalent to an ownership stake in the series, as has been inferred by some journalists, he might gain back one or two percent of his lost honor by financing such a sequel and letting the remaining cast and crew remain employed.

  25. Nice piece, thanks for writing,.
    One quibble.
    What happened to Natasha Henstridge is straight-up *rape*, there’s no “basically amounts to” about it, unless you’re parsing this from an NY penal code-specific definition POV, in which case it would be “S 130.50 Criminal sexual act in the first degree.”

  26. @Terri, it’s not just Spacey personally who’s damaged, it’s his brand. For example, Woody Allen’s very name squicks me. No matter how great the actors and cinematographers he works with, I wouldn’t go see his movie. House of Cards is perceived as a Spacey show, not a Robin Wright show; you can’t reboot a property whose public image has been focused on one person.

    I’m guessing that’s what’s behind a lot of the public Hollywood condemnation – senior people are afraid, for instance, that nobody will want to see a Weinstein movie. Even if the public doesn’t remember the names of the directors and producers for long, the accusations will certainly come up when a studio is trying to do press promotions for a movie/TV show.

    It’s not at all fair to the House of Cards actors and staff, but I cannot imagine a solution for “whoops, our star has admitted to heinous acts”.

  27. @curious – I think it’s because of this:

    “…the decision as to what’s creepy rests with the other person, not me (or you)….”.

    While I see that viewpoint and tend to agree with it, it DOES mean there’s not a hard, bright line. That’s not really surprising, given that we’re talking about human behavior, but I’ve seen guys (mostly older, admittedly) wondering “If I compliment a woman on looking nice and it’s just that, not leeringly coming on to her, what if she takes that as harassment and goes to HR?” Now, is that likely to happen? No. But given the law of large numbers it WILL happen somewhere and that story gets circulated and the worry gets blown up and there you go.

    Of course, it’s mostly a theoretical concern – harassers tend to leap right over the line and make their behavior obviously harassing, not just the occasional ‘you look nice’ comment – but since a lot of the polices and even law seems to be eye of the beholder stuff, it provokes the “wait, where’s the line here??” reaction in some guys.

  28. Yes, but the Hollywood film industry has never been as liberal as they wanted the rest of the country to believe anyway. The industry always talked a good game about feminism and diversity while practicing extremely little of either. Maybe a lot of the artists in the industry are liberal, but the machine itself is not and never has been. So all the gloating about hypocrisy on the part of conservatives is utterly pointless.

  29. We might have saved some people a lot of harm if we had acted more prudently when similar legitimate claims were being made in 1992,

    Regards,
    Dann

  30. What people are also not taking into account are those people who have been victimized in the past. Having all of these allegations come into the public sphere means they’re also going to have to touch on some bad times and awful emotions that they might have tried to put behind them. This all could be very triggering for them, and my heart goes out to such people, and I’m going to have to urge them o please talk to someone, anyone that they trust right now to help them through this.
    I know some people deal with issues of victimization by trying to put it firmly in their past and this might bring it all back,and they may not be in any frame of mind to deal with this right now.

  31. Indeed! People have been outing creepazoids in the STEM fields for a while now. It’s time for scientific organizations and universities to pay heed to what’s happening here. Unless you’ve been following various science blogs or working in STEM, you probably wouldn’t know a whole lot about what’s going on there, but a shakeup is all set to happen in those fields. They better get ready.

  32. @rickg17 Not knowing where the boundary is surely an issue. But there also seem to be men who are sure that they are at significant risk of being falsely accused of sexual harassment by a woman who is being vindictive or malicious (or crazy). Even though this is incredibly rare. So what’s driving the fear about it?

  33. I get it! I really do. YOU can see that what happened is horribly wrong and your mind just wants to reject the idea that any grown man could think that that’s okay! Not because you think she’s a liar, but because you don’t understand how someone else could think that behavior was okay, when you very obviously don’t.

  34. The avalanche of revelation and exposure – I literally just now found out that a leading light of SF is a serial harasser who has left a trail of thoroughly traumatized women – is overwhelming. Yes, industries may totter, may even fall. But I think that’s for the best in the long run. Cleaning out the rot is seldom pleasant, and may involve the amputation of important body parts – but left unchecked, rot will kill you.

  35. I’m sure a lot of these folks have contracts that do have “moral turpitude” sort of clauses attached. The issue is that behaving this way towards women wasn’t really considered by a lot of these folks to be all that turpituidous. (not a word) Those clauses would be in there for businesses to use when folks did shit that got the institution/project negative attention. Which all this misogynist shit, tragically, rarely would.

    It’s too bad that there’s this upheaval as we hopefully start taking this more seriously, and I feel for otherwise innocent people finding themselves out of work. But at some point justice requires sacrifice. I’m sure that there were people above and below the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the supply chain who lost jobs when better safety standards went into place, but would we want to keep those jobs at the cost of lives? How many acting gigs in Baltimore is a rape worth?

  36. Would you consider extending your policy of not attending conventions if they don’t have an effective harassment policy to not working with studios without the same? Not sure it’s even possible, but it might be logistically feasible in a way it wasn’t ten years ago, would be a sign that the industry is taking proactive measures rather than just reeling in shock.

  37. @dann665 I believed Anita Hill. (fistbump)

    Disclaimer: Not All Men.
    The reflexive reaction of “What if I’m falsely accused?” really bothers me. If we talk about embezzlement, people don’t panic and say “But, but, what if I innocently borrowed a little money from spare cash and put it back?” We just talk about why embezzlement is wrong and what will happen if you’re caught.

    For many people, sexual harassment is in a different category. I keep hearing a lot of anxiety about “What if I’m falsely accused!” to which my answer is “Don’t do this thing. You are not going to be accused for winking. Nobody has made public statements that “He winked at me!” Nobody has gotten fired for winking. What people get in trouble for is stuff that you shouldn’t be doing, and that any decent person would recognize as stuff you shouldn’t be doing.”

    People are freaking out about “What if I said she’s pretty?” in responses to stories about “He kept talking about fellatio to me”, “He lay on top of me and wouldn’t let me get away”, “He told me I’d get a job if I slept with him.” You would think that most people could recognize where the actual scandals fit on that continuum.

  38. If the panic makes them not do some things, while not actually harassment, are just a little way into the creepy zone, that’s probably a benefit.

  39. @rickg17

    “While I see that viewpoint and tend to agree with it, it DOES mean there’s not a hard, bright line.”

    Yes there is, and it’s very very simple. Talk to women the exact same way you talk to a male colleague you barely know but without the dirty joke “ice breaker”.

    You wouldn’t comment on how good Bob in Accounting looks today so don’t do it toward Marge, either.

    Believe it or not, women won’t waste away because a guy didn’t compliment their looks today. Want to give a compliment? Give one about their work. If you can’t do that due to not working with them, don’t give a compliment at all.

    The only times a compliment about a woman’s appearance should pass your lips is a) when it’s your wife; b) when you opinion is explicitly asked for.

    It’s not hard at all.

  40. @Don – yes, I’m sure a lot of contracts have the moral turpitude/bringing into disrepute clause in them. However, that’s just a bail out clause in case anything comes up – it’s not to say they haven’t done anything in the past, it’s so if bad news comes out, the financing people can pull the plug.

    And I’ll second the Woody Allen squick from above – not watched any of his movies for years, he won’t get a penny from me. But plenty of actors/actresses seem to be perfectly happy to work with him, so he seems to have avoided most bad consequences.

    I’m sure there are more stories out there, but probably proportionally fewer in Hollywood than in politics or finance. I work with a lady who ran a lobbying firm and she had a rule that none of the women who worked for her could ever be left alone with a politician – so if they went out for drinks etc, they could never be the last to leave and always had someone else in the firm makes sure they got home/to the hotel they were staying at every time.

  41. @curious, I suspect the problem is the disorienting world-tilting that happens when you find out that things you “knew” aren’t so. Males have been socialized for so long to be predators and women to be prey, though of course the ideas were all dressed up to look attractive and even romantic. A woman who said no was believed to be just playing hard to get, and a confident man was socialized to pursue, and the pursuit sometimes came in forms that are no longer considered romantic or even socially acceptable. I think a lot of men aren’t sure where the line is and whether they might have crossed it while thinking they were acting appropriately according to the messages the culture had been giving them pretty much all their lives.

    I remember a male friend complaining to me–and this was in the 1980s–that he was afraid to say hello to women now, because they might accuse him of harassment. This was a man who was born in 1930, had grown up to be quite a womanizer, and was respectful of women but an avid pursuer. He also actually *liked* women, which makes a big difference in how a man comes across, and many of his lovers stayed platonic friends with him, some for the rest of his life. But he perceived in the 1980s that the “rules” had changed and he no longer knew what the rules were. Also, I think–and this was part of the uncomfortable paradigm shift–women were being assertive about making/changing the rules. The men were having to share power over what the rules were–not that he saw it that way in any conscious way. He just knew that something had changed. He felt genuinely confused and upset by this. He had been going along thinking the world was one thing, and when it started to look like something else, it was an adjustment. I confess that I chuckled internally, thinking, “Sucks to be on the other side, doesn’t it?”

  42. In re several things questioned upthread:

    I’ve seen several ppl ask—here and elsewhere–why Netflix has to cancel House of Cards, when they could “just fire Spacey.” The answer is that Netflix doesn’t employ Spacey, they simply bought the right to broadcast the show, and Spacey is an executive producer. I.E. Spacey employs himself, and everyone else dependent on HoC for a living. The only way for Netflix to disassociate themselves is to cancel their broadcast contract. I don’t know if Netflix will have to pay a cancellation penalty, if there is such a clause in the contract, and if so, whether allegations of criminal behavior 30 years ago against a principal might negate a penalty, nor if that was a factor in Netflix’s decision. The circle of folks privy to all the ins and outs of the show and the various rights, obligations, terms, and conditions of the involved parties and/or contracts does not include me, obv., but someone at Netflix did a quick analysis and the results were strongly in favor of cancellation, even considering the vast sums of money in play.

    Relatedly, what the various allegations increasingly highlight is that Yes, powerful, possibly criminal men who are at least 50% awful (one assumes Weinstein was not awful to his wife and children) own and control 80% of everything, so when the whistle is finally blown, lots of people’s livelihoods are at stake. Which is the problem with institutional, social, political, and economic bias—it frankly favors the status quo, even when that status quo is awful, terrible, and no good, ref. the Civil War. Otherwise nice, conscientious people develop glaring blind spots, or even actively seek to silence or punish the whistleblower or victim, when the choice involves food, shelter, healthcare, kids.

    Female pundits and commentators (Samantha Bee + bad memory = >1) have been semi-seriously suggesting that every woman whose career, advancement, et cetera, has been damaged, or even ruined, by known predators be given the job she was driven out of, or alternately, just quit hiring men and hire only women, even for a year.

    Parity in hiring by gender (or race, ability, etc.) does not solve the issue. Anyone who works in a F500 or F100 company can look around and see that yeah, there are a heck of a lot of women working here, often substantially outnumbering the men… until you get past lower management. Then it gets whiter, straighter, and male-r with each successive climb up the corporate ladder.

    The straw-man response is that “Well, if women were in control of 80% of everything, they would be the exact same as men” in re harassment, corruption, and general awfulness. The few examples we have don’t support that thesis, but I for one would totally be willing to try the experiment.

    And in sort of a segue, but not really, the arts and entertainment industries are different than standard corporate America. I didn’t spend long in the performing arts, but I was in long enough to recognize fundamental differences from my workplaces since. (I was a grown ass adult in production capacities, not a child actor, but I did know and work with child actors, just an fyi.) It’s hard to describe, but boundaries are fuzzier. Partly it’s the hours and the nature of the work—it’s 24/7, not 9-5 40/wk. Parties and other events are mandatory, but you don’t get paid for it, and there are significant costs (cash as well as time and energy) associated, especially for women. Jobs are short-term, but incredibly immersive.

    Due to the nature of the work, it seems normal to work through the night, have meetings in restaurants or hotel lobbies, and to literally strip down in front of other people. As a costumer and wardrobe person, much of my time was spent rapidly and forcefully undressing and redressing actors of all ages, genders, races. It’s hard to measure an inseam or bust without touching someone’s person rather intimately, and it’s usually done with the performer in their scanties. No one is allowed to have feelings about it, on either end. If you do, especially if you let it show, you can’t do the work. Everyone is assumed to be a professional, but the weirdness of it can begin to affect perceptions, especially when a production cast and crew is essentially cloistered together for months at a time. Personal relationships develop and dissolve. The line between touching which is casual, welcome, friendly esprit d’corps and creepy, creepy creeperness blurs. Since this is different for everyone, you sometimes don’t know that a personal or professional line was crossed until later, sometimes much later.

    For the victims, this means that 10, 20, or 30 years after the fact they can finally recognize and identify “Hey, that was fucking wrong!” For the perps, it means that they have significant embedded cover to get away with creepy creeperness for a very long time. It also means that a person may realize somewhere down the line that they were both the victim and the harasser, sometimes at the same time, or maybe depending on the situation. People imitate behavior modeled by the most “successful” primate in the group, and if that primate is a creepy creeper, well.

    Once I moved into corporate America, I got much better at understanding and enforcing boundaries. They really are clearer in the world of cubicles and quarterly reviews. It’s actually fairly easy to say, “I’m not comfortable with you (male) randomly touching me (female) or putting your arm around me. Also, I’m concerned that you might be perceived as harassing female coworkers, so maybe that’s a habit you might be mindful of” in an office, as opposed to a green room or cast party or editing booth.

    TL; DR – Nothing is ever simple, and if you think it is, you are probably lacking sufficient information to make that judgement.

  43. This Hollywood stuff reminds me of the night when my late husband, a professional counselor, and I were reading while the TV was on. At some point we hadn’t noticed, the Academy Awards came on. After awhile, he glanced up at the screen, where somebody or other was doing the red carpet run and the usual nauseating crap was going on all around them, and he said, “Whole town fulla personality disorders,” and went back to reading. I turned the TV off and we enjoyed the rest of our evening. His comment has stayed with me and it has clarified much that we’ve seen from Hollywood over the years.

  44. cw: child sexual abuse

    I’ve heard a lot about Spacey and since he seems to be mentioned a lot in the comments, I guess I’ll speak. I’m trying to do that more because I think it helps, but I think children may be even more reticent to speak than women, even decades later. Or at least I hope that being willing to speak might help someone, somewhere, sometime.

    I was appalled, but not surprised, that Spacey tried to cover his acts as somehow having to do with “sexual orientation”. I was deeply gratified that the LGBTQIA+ community soundly rejected that attempt on the obvious grounds that sexually assaulting a child is evil and has nothing to do with orientation. I was even more grateful because that is rarely asserted as bluntly, boldly, and with such unanimity as it was this time. Headlines talk about “inappropriate relationships” between adults and children all the time it seems. There are reasons we have laws against sexually using minors. They aren’t in a place where they can possibly have an even vaguely equal “relationship” with an adult. A child may be physically capable of sex, but lacks the mental and emotional maturity to engage and consent on any sort of equal basis, even absent physical coercion.

    I was the same age as Spacey’s victim when an adult woman began grooming me and eventually sexually abusing me. (My therapist rightly wouldn’t permit me to frame it any other way, even to myself.) In my case, no physical violence was involved. In fact, she made me believe I was somehow seducing her and she was more a victim of my sexual allure and charm. By the time I was 15, I had been used and discarded. There’s no way to quantify how it changed me and the impact it had on my life.

    Mostly I hid it away as best I could and pretended it didn’t matter. That became impossible when my own children became young teens and I saw through the eyes of a parent how young they were, the ways in which they were moving toward adulthood, but still so very much children. I had many other things I experienced they never did, but I found myself finding a very few pictures of myself at 14 and staring at them. I could see clearly just how young I had been.

    Too many people still sexualize teens, even very young teens, as though they were simply miniature adults. Fewer people, but still too many, do so with preteens. Sex with a child is always rape, whether or not violence or overt coercion is used. Rape and harassment are always horrible, but that heinousness is compounded when done to a child. And victims are immensely more likely to never speak than to lie.

    When you see a headline about any adult’s “inappropriate relationship” with a child, mentally change it to rape. And for God’s sake, *try* to believe children when they do speak.

  45. Mintwitch, thank you. I especially appreciated your description of working in performing arts and how your observations in that world apply. And if my forehead were large enough, I would have your TL;DR statement tattooed on it.

  46. There is a whole insurance sector in Hollywood that insures productions. Actors have to have physical exams by a doctor before the insurance company will sign off. I remember people asking how Robert Downey Jr. kept working through his druggy years. The answer, he never missed a day of work, so producers could insure him. It was when jail time, and thus missing work, became an issue, that the insurance companies bailed on him and he cleaned up his act.

    I’m sure the insurance companies are going into overdrive figuring out who they will and won’t insure against harassment complaints. That will turn out to be the real issue.

    As to people complaining about productions shutting down, some other show or movie will be made instead. The job loss numbers aren’t real – for every job lost another one is gained.

  47. @uldihaa – Completely agree. As I noted, I see comments like that mostly from older guys who came of age when it was accepted (at least outwardly) that it was OK to compliment a woman on how she looked. Not even in a creepy way but “Nice dress” etc. It’s bringing a social behavior (something one might say at a party) into the workplace where it can easily become problematic. I do think this behavior is less common as you move toward younger guys but that might just be me being overly optimistic.

    @curious – Here’s an example: http://crosscut.com/2017/10/matt-taibbis-past-comes-back-to-haunt-him/. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But as you read it, his issue seems mostly to have been some offensive, badly judged satire written 20 years ago. But wait, what about that one incident “…about Taibbi’s alleged mistreatment of a female coworker…”? Well, if you go to the story about it you get here: https://theintercept.com/2014/10/30/inside-story-matt-taibbis-departure-first-look-media/ where you see this quote:
    These simmering problems came to a head this month when a Racket staffer complained to senior management that Taibbi had been verbally abusive and unprofessionally hostile, and that she felt the conduct may have been motivated, at least in part, by her gender.

    One incident. Not of overt harassment but that the person on the other end felt *might* be related to her gender. Now, maybe he’s a jackass as a manager. Maybe it WAS related to her gender… and maybe not. But that’s the kind of thing that makes some guys feel a little on edge because if you read that Crosscut article and don’t follow the link, you are left with the impression that he’s some kind of harasser when that’s pretty questionable.

    I hope we purge people like Ratner, Tobak and their ilk. There cannot be any tolerance of that. While there are less serious behaviors that are also clearly harassment, I’m slightly worried that if we all start viewing any even slightly offensive comment in the same light, we’ll undercut this movement and I don’t want to see that. Mind you, the bar SHOULD be low – I’d rather overcorrect than not correct enough – but we shouldn’t lose sight of differences in both type and degree of offense.

  48. @Mary, I don’t think pointing out that people are losing work because productions are shut down is necessarily “complaining about” it. IOW, I don’t get the impression that they’re saying, “Oh, forget about what he did. We need the jobs.” What is being pointed out is that quite a few people had work or expectations of work, and now they don’t. It can be a significant loss for them, and there is no reason not to say so. “House of Cards” was one of two important productions in Maryland that employed a fair number of people in various capacities. The other was “Veep,” which moved production to Los Angeles a year or two ago. Local actors (and no doubt service companies) did feel the loss of “Veep” and will feel the loss of “House of Cards,” even though it was on its last season of production. I know someone who probably would have had work on “House of Cards” in one of the episodes still in production. Those jobs aren’t so easy to come by around here. I’m sure all the actors, extras, craft people, etc. hope someone else will want to make use of the production facilities in Maryland and employ them, but there are no guarantees. “For every job lost, another is gained” sounds nice and maybe it’s sort of true, in extremely general global sense over a long period of time, but the jobs aren’t necessarily where these people are.

  49. Curious: “explain why so many men now seem to be concerned with “protecting themselves” against false accusations of sexual assault?”

    Meh. I think its like bodycams on cops. If you’re a “good cop”, you might actually want to wear one. And wearing one doesnt make you a bad cop.

    Now, maybe a cop thinks there are no bad cops and all these accusations against cops are unfounded and he wants a body cam to protect himself against possible false accusations in the future.

    He’d be a clueless dolt, but far as I can tell, the more cops that wear body cams, the better, whatever their reasoning.

    If all this makes a manager stop and think, hey, maybe I shouldnt invite my employee back to my hotel room, maybe we should meet somewhere more public, the manager is doing the right thing for dumb reasons, but still, better than doing the wrong thing for dumb reasons.

  50. Spacey could almost certainly be removed from HoC as an actor. And while he is one of the Producers, he his not the only Producer. What may be more difficult is removing his Producer credit. There are several examples of creators/producers exiting a show or film series yet still receiving producer credit going forward. Don Bellasario was removed from NCIS (for running the production inefficiently) yet still has a credit. Doug Liman only directed the first Bourne film (went over budget and over schedule and was fired) yet still gets a producer credit on all the sequels.

    The problem for Netflix and the HoC production is that they could remove Spacey and yet still have to have a producer credit for him during each opening credits sequence (not a good look). I also think that they are willing to pull the plug since (from what I hear) the sixth season was supposed to be the last one anyway.

  51. @rickg17: Yes, Taibbi and Ames now claim that they were writing satire. When they published “The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia,” they explicitly labeled it nonfiction. So they were lying then or they’re lying now.

    Besides, the word “satire” has a meaning, and it’s not “saying whatever nasty crap comes into your head.” When Ames told a story about threatening to kill his pregnant girlfriend if she didn’t have an abortion, what precisely was he satirizing? What about when he wrote about sleeping with a 15-year-old?

  52. To everyone who thinks this is about old men who grew up when this kind of behavior was “acceptable”: Please log into the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and learn how many women (and men) are the victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Ignorance, or the claim of ignorance, of a problem so deeply ingrained in our culture smacks of absolute and complete denial.

  53. Curious: “sure that they are at significant risk of … Even though this is incredibly rare.”

    That generalizes the human condition.

    people take any possible threat from a conscious agent and overestimate its danger by orders of magnitude compared to an unconscious agent. Icicles kill orders of magnitudes more people than sharks, but no one made umpteen duuuu dun duuu dun duh dun duh dun movies about iscicles.

    The other thing is people are *terrible* at math just in general. I remember when mandatory seatbelt laws were being proposed, opponents were passing around some story about this one guy who was trapped in a car by a seatbelt, and using that to argue against the law that would save thousands of lives.

  54. Got into a mild Facebook fight a few nights ago regarding a linked article which seemed to be aimed at helping men avoid false charges of sexual harassment. As if that was the most important issue. My antagonist did concede that most charges of harassment and abuse are probably true, but still insisted on the point that men have to protect themselves from false allegations.

    That’s all well and good. I’ve written on management topics for more than 20 years, and the best advice I’ve ever heard and shared on this topic is, don’t say “You look hot in that shirt/skirt/whatever.” If you must comment, say something more or less noncommittal, like, “That’s a nice color,” and then go back to work. Treat your co-workers like equals, regardless of what they’re wearing. That would be the best way to protect yourself from “false charges.”

  55. I’m not the first to point out here that there is absolutely no reason at all to ‘compliment’ a female co-worker about her appearance. Compliment her work if it is merited. This is NOT HARD. While not the first to say this, I feel it cannot be said enough.

    Kevin Spacey is a complete shit for mingling his ephebophilia crime with his coming out. Shame shame shame on him.

  56. Also worth saying:

    Men (and women/etc. but let’s face it mostly men), if you find you HAVE abused or harrassed someone in the past it is totally ok to come clean and apologize on your own. In fact, it’s better for you if you do.

    If you reveal it yourself and apologize the implied message is “Hey, I fucked up by doing _____. I know it and I’m sorry. I’m not going to make excuses. I’ll try to be a better person.”

    If you only apologize after the fact the message is “I’m sorry I got caught.”

  57. @curious

    Can anyone explain why so many men now seem to be concerned with “protecting themselves” against false accusations of sexual assault? What’s the reasoning there, given that there are a million more likely career-ruining things that could happen to them?

    I think, in addition to the second-guessing when things that were considered “okay” are revealed to not actually be, that it has a lot to do with a perceived lack of control. Presumably other activities are clearly in the hands of the person in question; it’s a choice to embezzle, or not, for example. But harassment involves the reaction of another person… and in this case, a category of other people whose views and reactions are frequently not considered as legitimate as those of men.

    So I suspect certain types of men are basically afraid of these not-quite-people suddenly being in a position to affect their careers, which is ironic, given that if they viewed women and gender-queer and minors as equals, they’d be far less likely to engage in questionable behaviors in the first place.

  58. Pedro: “I wonder how NPR News Chief Michael Oreskes felt ”

    Well, he probably figured it…

    Wait… oh you scamp you… Its because NPR is a “liberal” and fake news org. I see the pattern now. On a thread about trumps people being charged with crimes, you kept having to mention Hilary. In a thread about sexual harrassment, you only mention npr and msnbc people.

    You almost had me there…

  59. Not to excuse anything he’s done, but I didn’t read the Spacey admission the same way others have. I didn’t see it as an intentional co-mingling of points to downplay the sexual harassment, but more of “Damn, I’m sorry I did that shitty thing, and since admitting guilt makes my pretending to be straight a moot point, here you go…”

    My take. YMMV…

  60. Matt Taibbi was pulling the same sort of wildly sexist and demeaning writing in 2009. See this tweet: https://twitter.com/naomigloebl/status/925857249943310336

    Transcribing a few sentences because it’s, as all too often, a screencap:
    The problem with the Smoking-Hot Skank as a permanent life choice [meaning wife] is that she eventually gets bored and starts calling reporters to share her Important Political Opinions and her thoughts about your general manager’s personnel moves. Whether it’s from that or from his being haggard from all-night, reverse-cowgirl sex, inevitably the player’s career takes a sharp nose-dive post-wedding.

    In 2010, he threw coffee in the face of reporter James Vernini, who was interviewing him, for saying that Vernini didn’t think Exile was very good.
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2010/02/this_is_what_happens_if_you_te.html

    Taibbi has written a Facebook apology that, to my mind, is far too much about his love for Writing and far too little about what he needs to fix.


    > As for the misogyny, that’s a darker topic that will likely require years more self-examination. Perhaps others can help me unwind it further. But I knew from the moment I returned home that it was an issue that would require years of reckoning.

    I spit. It isn’t anybody else’s job to help Taibbi unwind it. Figuring out what he did is part of the work that’s needed. If he can’t figure it out, then he can’t fix it.

    Basically, “I admired Hunter S. Thompson” (is there any doubt who he’s talking about?) doesn’t equate to “Therefore it’s okay that I put my name on, and am now disavowing, wildly offensive and misogynist shit.” And, see above, he was still doing it as a young man of 39.

  61. I wonder if this will just be a temporary blip in the road for Hollywood. Roman Polanski received an Academy Award while being a fugitive from US justice for statutory rape, and has won numerous awards in Europe, where France, Switzerland and Poland all refused to return him to the US for sentencing.

  62. Pedro: No doubt Halperin and Oreskes may have had concerns for their own futures when they were reporting on the $32 payout by Bill O’Reilly, and the ouster of him and Roger Ailles at Fox. However, my guess is that most of these scumbags don’t recognize themselves in the picture until the reports become too numerous for them to ignore. They probably start with actions that are small and mostly innocuous, and as they escalate, lie to themselves about the severity of their actions.

    “Any fair-minded person can start to formulate a picture here,” O’Reilly said on former Fox News host Glenn Beck’s radio show

    .”Nobody pays $32 million to anybody for false accusations,” former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson told HLN.

  63. Let’s not leave out the military. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are rampant. To make it even worse, if you report it, the police aren’t called unless your commander thinks they should be. It’s all up to a commander – and if it’s your commander who is the predator? You’re just out of luck. Even if you go to the MP’s, the decision still gets kicked back to your commander. If anyone is interested, the documentary “The Invisible War” is a good start. Also, Gary Trudeau added a storyline (“Mel’s Story”) about MST (military sexual trauma) to The Doonesbury universe – he got it right.
    I wish Ken Burns would tackle the subject – maybe that would force some much needed changes.
    But, probably not. I was in 30 years ago and when I watched “The Invisible War” two years ago I wanted to throw my shoe through the tv because nothing has changed. The stern faced talking heads with their “we have zero tolerance for this” is just the usual dog-and-pony show for the public. Nothing ever changes.

  64. Bruce: Bill O’Reilly’s comeuppance was, in retrospect, the first noticeable crack in the proverbial dam–something easily obscured by the glee in certain ideological circles over his fantastic fall.

    But then the law of averages finally caught up with Harvey the Hapless Harbinger. The dam is now shattered. And the flood of outrage is, well, you get the point.

    At least Oreske fessed up. O’Reilly, on the other hand, is wrapped so tightly around the axle of his own denial that even I’m impressed.

  65. @clancyweeks

    You’re the … oh, I dunno … 10th? 12th? somethingth straight white man from whom I’ve heard or read some variation of “not for nothing, but I didn’t see Spacey’s statement to mean that.”

    In the meanwhile every single person I know of (in person or via social media) who is involved in the LGBTQ community in one way or another, and multiple organizations that represent the LGBTQ community, have come out and said that his statement did, in fact, imply exactly THAT.

    With respect, I think this is one where straight people need to zip it and listen.

  66. Pedro: I think Weinstein should have seen it coming, I think he had something like 8 payouts over the years. I still expect Hollywood to ignore all of this in a couple years, and most of the perps will end up being treated like they were the victims of some sort of communist blacklisting. People like Weinstein, with a lot of money and connections, will slowly dip their toes in the water, and when they feel it’s safe for them to jump in, will do so, and if they have a hit, all will be forgiven.

  67. I’m conflicted about the Kevin Spacey/Anthony Rapp story. I was “seduced” by a man in his 20s when I was 16 in 1981. It went much farther than Rapp describes. I understand that it was technically rape (because of the age difference).

    I didn’t feel raped. I was rather pleased to be able to mark losing my virginity off my coming-of-age checklist. I didn’t really expect that to happen until after high school. My classmates were pairing of in opposite sex couples, and I’m sure many of them were making out, if not already having sex. My own first kiss happened a few minutes before my first intercourse.

    I don’t know Anthony Rapp (though I have briefly met him). Since he also came of age in the 80s, I’d like to know more about his story. Was he a virgin when this incident occurred? If not, had he had sexual encounters with older men (or women) before, or after?

    In other words, what is it that Rapp finds disturbing about the incident? Was it specifically the statutory rape, or something else?

  68. Kevin, Anthony Rapp says that Spacey pinned him down on a bed, and that it was very much unwanted.

    And it’s none of your business whether he was a virgin. Virgin or round-heeled, everybody always has the right to say no.

  69. Definitely disgusting. Out my way here in CT, a well know former UCONN woman’s b-ball player came out under the #metoo tag to say she was sexually abused as a child. So it definitely cuts across the entertainment industry to dip its collective toes into the sports industry.

  70. Innocence is not a reliable defence:

    Give me six lines written by the most innocent of men, and I will find in them something to hang him.
    Cardinal Richlieu

  71. @Kara Hudson

    I get that you have a completely different take on the statement. I get that I have no chance of understanding the depth of what you feel, but I also respect that you have an opinion on the subject. Everyone, including you, have opinions on shit they know absolutely zero about, but I would never shut you down with the “stay in your lane” bullshit.

    I have an opinion. I expressed it in good faith, in the manner of open dialogue. If you aren’t interested in open dialogue, I suggest you find a less public forum. The fact I am a straight white male does not nullify my opinion on any topic. I can certainly be wrong, but I still have the right to display my wrongness, and, maybe, learn from it.

    Telling me to shut up won’t do that…

  72. Kevin Bailey:

    Was he a virgin when this incident occurred? If not, had he had sexual encounters with older men (or women) before, or after?

    The clear implication of that question is that it’s relevant, presumably because people with prior sexual experience can’t be sexually assaulted.

    That’s horrifying thing to say. Or to think.

    Also, it’s exactly the argument which used to be permitted in court (and probably still is, in some places) and which people make every day.

    But still horrifying.

    Especially since some of us were sexually assaulted as children and by the screwed-up standard of the concept of so-called “virginity”, were no longer “virginal” by the time we became legally able to consent to sexual contact.

    So you can take your implication that someone can rape a child and thereby make that child legally or ethically more worthy of rape by the next predator, and go to hell with it.

    Grace

  73. @clancyweeks

    “I have an opinion. I expressed it in good faith, in the manner of open dialogue. If you aren’t interested in open dialogue, I suggest you find a less public forum. ”

    Backatcha.

    And, by the way, “stay in your lane” is rarely “bullshit”. You don’t get to say how Kevin Spacey’s statement didn’t harm or put at risk LGBTQ people by conflating being gay with being a sexual predator and a pedophile. Why? Because YOU have likely never been told that your sexuality makes you a criminal sexual predator.

    Your comment is no different than if the subject were race and Spacey used a dogwhistle phrase. For you as a white person to come back and say “I don’t see where that word means what all these people of color are saying it is, FWIW” is simply wrong. Same thing goes here. The fact that you’re a straight, white male does, in fact, make your opinion on these topics invalid.

  74. @Kara Hudson
    “You don’t get to say how Kevin Spacey’s statement didn’t harm or put at risk LGBTQ people by conflating being gay with being a sexual predator and a pedophile.”

    Please point to any of my words where I did that. Helpful hint: I didn’t. You don’t get to make up things I “said” and then argue against them. That’s a strawman, something Trump does like breathing.

    “For you as a white person to come back and say “I don’t see where that word means what all these people of color are saying it is, FWIW” is simply wrong.”

    Again.. Strawman. Please point out where I’m saying these things. I am unsure of exactly which word you are referring to, but I never once said or wrote I questioned what any person felt about Spacey’s statement. I merely stated what *I* felt. I’m a human riding the same planet as you. I get to do that no matter how much you wish I don’t.

    “The fact that you’re a straight, white male does, in fact, make your opinion on these topics invalid.”

    See… you can be wrong, too. My opinion had nothing to do with how *you* feel, and everything to do with how *I* felt about his statement. An opinion on a feeling can be wrong, but it can never be invalid.

    I’ll kindly ask you to stop making up things I say. I have refrained from doing that to you. Show me the same courtesy.

  75. I tend to agree with the idea that what Spacey thought he was saying was something like how clancyweeksblog parsed it. But just because that’s what he thought he was saying (if indeed that’s the case) doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stupid, self-centered, and hurtful. I doubt that he gave two shits how it would affect anyone LGBTQ or how it might tend to play to bigots. My opinion has for a long time been that Spacey is a jerk and an asshole, and his statement tends to provide evidence for that, rather than against it, in my opinion. An asshole jerk is more likely to say something arrogant and self-serving that does end up causing harm to others, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe it in his heart of black, shrunken hearts.

    And I’m not a straight white mail for those few keeping score.

  76. BW–I agree. Regardless of what he (or even I) *thought* he was saying, it was insensitive at the very least. I recognize he may have intended to do with his statement what others claim he did, but I just don’t see that in the printed word. That being said, I would hope one guy (or woman, depending) would just come out and say “Yeah, I did that [insert horrible act]. I’m sorry.” A whole lot of parsing could be avoided if the miscreants would just learn to stop right there.

  77. I am worried about the blowback. The answer according the the vice president is to never be in a room alone with a woman. There are male people in powerful positions in all fields that will think this is the way to protect themselves. This will also be another reason not to promote females to sensitive job positions or just not hire them at all. Other blowback will likely come from men accusing women of harassment, which does/did happen because it’s about power not affection, and of all the people who are recovering memories from being triggered by these accusations/admissions some of them will be males who will have issues. As soon as one woman who is perceived to be powerful is brought “down” it will then be open season on all women to blame them for inciting the male behaviors (as it is currently, actually) and there will be open, accepted and likely required repression of women. Women will lose in this battle as well as all the other battles for equity. (Yes it sounds bad to be asking to be accepted as an asshole the way asshole men are acceptable, and you know what we women can be assholes-just not as often as some people think we are). We will lose because we are seen to be taking away the male ability to provide for his family or to be the boss or to not accord him the appropriate rights as the dominant position in the hierarchy. Women always have to work against the cultural presumption that they are liars, (one of the commenters above even noticed it himself although he didn’t call it that) and the first woman accused of harassment will justify the presumption and it will intensify. Or not! Maybe everyone will be forgiving and understanding and Hollywood will start hiring women directors and producers in huge numbers, and there will be blockbuster films where women can actually wear appropriate clothing for the situation, and men will be grateful that there is a hero who saved them instead of resenting that they “lost to a girl.”

  78. You know what the actual problem with the suspension of the final season of House of Cards due to the heinous behaviors of the actor playing a fictional POTUS? That the guy who plays a fictional POTUS is held to higher standards than the Real World Abuser in Chief POTUS, who gets to remain in the White House without repercussions.

  79. Clancy, what Spacey said tied into a dogwhistle, intentionally or unintentionally. The *point* of dogwhistles is that they can be overlooked by a lot of people. Words do not just have literal meanings: they have meanings within the context of the society that uses them.

    For an example, consider “articulate”. A compliment, right? But if you’re Black (or paying attention) you will notice that “articulate” when applied to black people in articles generally connotes “Wow, this black person speaks intelligently, I need to call that out because it’s unusual.” If you tell me “That’s not what articulate means to me”, then you’re saying “I don’t hear this dogwhistle, and therefore it isn’t there.” You’re asserting that your particular interpretation is the true interpretation, because it’s yours. You are ignoring a lot of other people who have actually been insulted by the dogwhistle, because you don’t recognize it. That’s why you “stay in your lane” — you respect the opinions of the people most affected, rather than your own experience, which isn’t relevant.

    In this case, a lot of LGBTQ people, as well as many cis straight people, have said “There’s a longstanding pattern that ‘gay’ is used as synonomous with ‘pedophile’.” I’ve noticed this a lot in historical reading, as well as in daily speech. “Gay” or “homosexual” or “transsexual” is closely associated with ‘Protect our children!” Think of the anti-trans bathroom laws, which are justified by imagined transsexual predation.

    So, if you don’t recognize this association, listen to the people who are affected by it. You live in the context of a society, and your individual opinions and experiences are not the whole of that society.

    tl;dr: If somebody oppressed tells you a phrase or concept is a hurtful stereotype, believe them. They hear it a lot more often than you do.

  80. Is science fiction ripe for a similar dam breaking event where influential men who have harassed women are brought up on charges? There certainly seems to be a whisper network around figures like, say, Harlan Ellison.

  81. “If you tell me “That’s not what articulate means to me”, then you’re saying “I don’t hear this dogwhistle, and therefore it isn’t there.” You’re asserting that your particular interpretation is the true interpretation, because it’s yours.”

    Nope. I’m telling you I’m clueless about the dog-whistle. That’s the extent of it.

    “That’s why you “stay in your lane” — you respect the opinions of the people most affected, rather than your own experience, which isn’t relevant.”

    Yeah. Not really. All opinions are relevant. Not all are correct. Fewer still make much sense, but you nullify my life experiences and my worth as a human being by suggesting otherwise.

    “In this case, a lot of LGBTQ people, as well as many cis straight people, have said “There’s a longstanding pattern that ‘gay’ is used as synonymous with ‘pedophile’.””

    I agree with you there.

    “If somebody oppressed tells you a phrase or concept is a hurtful stereotype, believe them. They hear it a lot more often than you do.”

    Here as well. Unfortunately, this is not what we have been discussing. I simply offered my opinion of how I felt about what Spacey wrote by way of his “apology”. I have a nasty habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt in matters of what they actually say over what other people feel they meant.

  82. Tamperbeast wrote: “Is science fiction ripe for a similar dam breaking event where influential men who have harassed women are brought up on charges?”

    That question strikes me as the pregnant exception to Betteridge’s law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

  83. Speaking of other industries, institutions and work places where sexual abuse is rampant — the religious sector. All of the major religions seem to be guilty of it in all ways. The only ones I can think of that may appear not to be guilty of sexual abuse are forms of African spirituality, and if they really haven’t had sexual abuse as a matter of course going on, it may be because these are not ‘congregant’ religions, but those in which an individual does things directly to communicate with higher powers. The communal celebrations are right there in public, involving heavy-duty drumming and dancing to call down the divinities — and likewise to send them back home.

  84. “Brought up on charges” is way, way different than “held accountable”. There are a lot of excellent reasons for harassees to decide that the legal system will not help them. A couple of prominent SF people — James Frankel, a former Tor editor — comes to mind — have lost jobs and some prestige. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/SFF_harassment_revelations_2013 And Ellison is no longer the subject of whispers; he grabbed Connie Willis’s boob onstage at the Hugo awards in 2006. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Harlan_Ellison_groping_Connie_Willis
    Another prominent event was DragonCon’s very, very belated severing ties with a then-indicted, later-convicted pedophile. https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/fandom/dragon-con-edward-kramer-pedophile-ousted/ So exposure and change are already, very slowly, beginning to happen.

    Judith, I share your fears, but my experience is that each time a prominent sexual-harassment scandal happens, the public’s overall understanding gets a bit better. I don’t think the “Nobody would be crazy enough to do that” response to Anita Hill could happen today. Or to the people claiming assault by Bill Clinton, whom I am ashamed to have disbelieved at the time. People still react with “What if false accusation?” but it’s much rarer to say “Powerful people have too much to lose to do that.”

    My experience over 45 years of paying attention is that each time a major harassment scandal happens, there is absolutely blowback, but that the reaction never pushes us as far backward as we were before. A lot, lot more people grasp that sexual harassment is never appropriate in 2017 than did in my youth. A lot of people don’t, of course. There’s work to do. But some of the work had effect. The phrase “hostile work environment” scares a lot of employers today, although not all of them. That change happened in my lifetime; see here. http://corporate.findlaw.com/human-resources/how-much-is-enough-difficulties-defining-hostile-work.html

  85. @Tamperbeast: Way past time, I think.

    There’s at least been a lot of attention paid to harassment at cons–I don’t know if it’s led to better behavior, but there are now such things as harassment policies when once there weren’t; it’s a question of whether they’re actually taken seriously. Back when Isaac Asimov was king of the grabasses, it was seen by the people in control as just his entertaining quirk.

  86. @Madame Hardy (@mme_hardy)
    So, the only way not be hurtful, is to not ever say anything, because no matter my intention or what I said, someone WILL assume I was insulting them, and thus I’m an evil person because I may have not known that a phrase may have a certain connotation?

    Apparently I’m an evil person, because if someone said to me “This guy is very articulate”, I’d indeed assume it was meant to say that this person can speak well, knows a lot of words, no matter what skin color or even species.
    I’ve never heard of the word “gay” in any context other than “(usually male) homosexual” (and the old meaning of being happy, I think), so I guess I’m an even more evil person because I don’t see anything wrong with describing peoples sexual orientation that way.

    How dare I not know ALL the potential meanings of words and phrases in whatever culture or region.

    “Stone him, he said Jehova!” – why does this come to mind?

    It’s OK to punish people for things they do intentionally.
    But punishing people for doing things they do UNintentionally? Are you going to punish people for their thoughts next?

    Maybe it wasn’t unintentional at all, I don’t know. But I did get the impression that most here don’t really care.

  87. @Christoph, this is what is called a straw man. I say “Some X are Y”, and you then debate “All X are Y under all circumstances!!!”
    > So, the only way not be hurtful, is to not ever say anything, because no matter my intention or what I said, someone WILL assume I was insulting them, and thus I’m an evil person because I may have not known that a phrase may have a certain connotation?

    What I actually said is (paraphrasing) “Sometimes you don’t know that a phrase is offensive, and if somebody else, who is affected by that phrase, says it is, believe them.” I didn’t say “Never say anything”, and indeed that would be a profoundly silly thing for me to say, which makes it easier to debate.

    An old analogy, but if somebody says to me, “You just stepped on my foot!” the appropriate response is “Damn, I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” A person of good will would not say “Are you telling me I can’t walk ever again for fear of foot-stepping?!?!?!?” Nobody is talking about punishment here. Nobody. People are saying “When you say X, it hurts me, please don’t say X next time.” That means that the next time you do it, you are choosing to hurt them. That’s all it means.

    There is a big difference between saying “That was rude” and saying “I am excluding you from polite society forever and ever”.

  88. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master-that’s all.”

  89. Richard Lawson tweeted: “The distance we’ve had to walk to get away from the notion that we’re all pedophiles is significant.” … “How dare you implicate us all in this”

    Whether Spacey did or did not intend to implicate all gays as pedophiles is spectral evidence. Its also kinda irrelevant. The question is will people point to Spacey and use him to reinforce the “all gays are pedophiles” stereotype?

    Homophobes absolutely will. But lets be honest here. Homophobes would do that if Spacey said absolutely nothing. Because bigots dont need someone else to point out a hasty generalization that fits their worldview. Theyve spent their entire lives cherry picking evidence to “prove” their homophobia is correct.

    So, spacey is fuel for the fire for homophobes, and homophobes are shitty people.

    As a straight dude, reading Lawsons tweet about Spacey implicating all gays as pedophiles, i might respond “I didnt see that in Spaceys apology”. Which doesnt mean homophobes wont see it. But they would see it if spacey never uttered another word.

    The implication isnt in the words of the speaker. Its in the ears and eyes of the listener/reader. And as a straight dude, i would only offer that when other straight people say they didnt see that implication, they are saying they arent homophobes and they arent going to take Spaceys words and actions to justify a hurtful prejudice against all gays.

    Will homophobes do that? Sure. And they’re shitty people and I am sorry you have to deal with these assholes on a level I as a straight person will never have to deal with. I am not saying they wont use this to further their bigotry.

    I think when a straight person says something like “I dont see that in Spacey’s apology”, what they are indicating is they arent a homophobe and they arent going to take from Spaceys words or actions the implication that all gays are pedophiles.

  90. Sorry, (meta-)discussions like this get me riled up.
    I am, I freely admit, an ignorant lout (I want to think more ignorant than lout, but still).
    I sit in front of a computer the whole day and rarely have contact to other humans outside of work (or internet).

    I don’t mind if someone calls me ignorant.
    I do mind, however, if someone accuses me (or someone else, for that matter) of doing or saying something bad when they have no way of knowing what I (or others) think, and immediately assume the worst and want to blame me for doing something I had now prior knowledge of.

    What I’ve seen in this thread is someone offering the opinion that maybe Spacey thought he said something sensible, and was almost immediately attacked for doing so.
    (I don’t know what is the case here with Spacey, I didn’t really read up on it, and have no way of knowing if what he said was honest or intentionally pseudo-honest or whatever.)

    To use that old analogy, if I step on someones foot, I expect a response like “You stepped on my foot, get off”, and not “How dare you step on my foot! I know it was intentional because only people who want to step on feet walk here!”.
    In the first case, I’d say something along “Sorry, I wasn’t looking. I’ll try to watch where I go more closely.”
    In the second case I’ll get angry and defensive.

  91. https://xkcd.com/1860/

    Communication is a two-way street. Neither can I just throw a bunch of words and expect the others to know what I mean, nor can the others just pick among my words and extract whatever they want.
    It relies on goodwill on both sides, unfortunately.

  92. “I think when a straight person says something like “I dont see that in Spacey’s apology”, what they are indicating is they arent a homophobe and they arent going to take from Spaceys words or actions the implication that all gays are pedophiles.”

    I’m sort of surprised it took so long to get to this…

  93. @Christoph – re treading on toes.

    The problem is not so much that the person assumes intent and yells at you – it’s that the first move these days seems to be to tell the rest of the world. And then it’s too late – despite your lack of malice you are labelled forevermore an abusive foot-stomping hater

  94. But that’s exactly what I meant, @Christoph. Most people believe that Humpty Dumpty is wrong, that a single person can’t redefine words. In this case, it’s not one gay person trying to redefine words. It is a LOT of LGBTQ people saying “This particular association has been used, historically, to defame gay people.” When so many people are telling you about history, and about the history of defamation of their subculture, then your assertion that “When I say X, it doesn’t mean what you say it does” is Humpty Dumpty ish. What you say has meaning within a culture, and within American and British culture (at least) saying “I committed an assault on a child of my gender” has often been coupled with “I did this because I am gay, and because gay people assault children.” Spacey would have been well aware of this association, because any LGBTQ person would be.

    Nobody’s saying it’s wrong to be unaware of the history or connotation of an idea or phrase. What we are saying is that, once somebody (possibly lots of somebodies) try to explain the connotation to you, you can no longer claim to be unaware of that history. From then on, you are deliberately choosing to ignore it.

    Let me give you an example of meaning within context. If I said, five years ago, “Make America great again”, I’d probably get some agreement, and some arguments on what “great” means and whether we’ve ever been “great”. It was a political statement about my vision of America. When I say “Make America great again” in 2017, I’m saying “I support President Trump”. Same four words, different meaning, because the context has changed. If you say “Make …” today, and I say “Er, you do realize you’re declaring an allegiance to Donald Trump?” you have a choice. Either you listen to my explanation, or you decide that because the words in the dictionary are supreme, my explanation is irrelevant. No sentence or phrase is context-free.

    For a lot of centuries, in the English language one of the words used for homosexuals was “pederast”, meaning somebody who preyed on children. If an adult man was in an alley with another adult man, they were both pederasts. That association is deep in the history of the idea of male-male sex. You can’t erase that history by saying that you aren’t aware of it. It is there, whether you’re aware of it or not. When the very subject of homosexuality comes up within culturally conservative groups, the first, innate response is “PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!”

    Kevin Spacey knows that. It doesn’t matter what his intent was; I think he was trying to do a fan dance and say “Don’t look at the assault on a 14-year-old! Look at my bravery in coming out!” But the effect of what he said, no matter his intent, was to reinforce the widespread association between “preys on children” and “has sex with men.”

  95. But you blame him for what the effect of his words were, even if he might not have intended it or did so out of ignorance (either not knowing, not caring, or simply not thinking about it).

    If you said “Make America great again!”, I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that you’re a Trump supporter – though I agree, it’s a red-flag sentence that demands scrutiny.
    You might mean it sarcastically, or as opposition to Trump (i.e. MAGA, get rid of Trump).
    Or maybe you indeed mean it honestly unpolitical, because you lived under a stone in a cave for the last few years.

    I try not to jump to conclusions – which is difficult because our brain is hardwired to do so – but I KNOW that I miss a LOT of social cues, so I have to be careful in how I interpret things.

    (In the MAGA example, a lot would of course be told by previous context and body language. If merely spoken, it might even mean that you support the idea to only sell parmesan cheese in blocks.)

  96. “I think he was trying to do a fan dance and say “Don’t look at the assault on a 14-year-old! Look at my bravery in coming out!””

    Yes… but this is in your head, and unless you are also privy to what he was thinking, its all pure supposition.

    “But the effect of what he said, no matter his intent, was to reinforce the widespread association between “preys on children” and “has sex with men.””

    I mostly agree with this, but, to be clear, my *guess* is that the only heads he put this idea in were the LGBTQ, their friends and family, and the assholes who hate them. The fact many of us didn’t take it that way should actually be seen as a positive. If *everyone* saw it that way, it would mean there are far more assholes than there actually are.

  97. Christoph:

    But you blame him for what the effect of his words were, even if he might not have intended it or did so out of ignorance (either not knowing, not caring, or simply not thinking about it).

    Kevin Spacey is a superbly skilled and nuanced actor. He is a professional communicator.

    It’s fair to presume that he either intended the meaning, or didn’t care about it enough to avoid it.

    Neither option is a good look.

    Grace

  98. I should clarify why I was asking about Rapp’s sexual experience. It wasn’t a “blame the victim” question, or a legal question, or a question to which I think Rapp owes me an answer. Any inference that that was my purpose is a FALSE inference. I didn’t imply it.

    My question was whether Rapp’s objection to Spacey’s attempted seduction was based on Spacey’s age or the fact that Rapp wasn’t attracted to Spacey sexually.

    To be clear, Rapp’s objection is enough, no matter what the reason.

    Of the six men I had sex with before the age of 19, four were a decade older than I was. For three of those four I was a willing participant. For the fourth, I was 18, and the situation/person was not one I was comfortable with. That felt more like the feelings Rapp described, even though it wasn’t “statutory rape”, and to those who are focused on the “victim was a minor” aspect, it wasn’t as bad as the ones where I was perfectly fine.

    So I wondered whether Rapp also had relations with older people that he was comfortable with around the time that he was the victim of an unwanted sexual advance from Kevin Spacey.

  99. @Christoph, @Clancyweeksblog, here is what I hear you to be saying. Am I misstating your position or misreading it? This is a real question, and I’m not being rhetorical.

    When speaking or writing, a person is responsible only for their intentions in so doing. The effects, interpretation, and understanding of the speech, if outside their intention, are not their responsibility.

  100. Kevin Spacey’s career as he and we have known it is kaput.

    As for me, anything he does from this point forward will be the entertainment equivalent of Toxic Waste.

  101. Madame: “But the effect of what he”

    Did to a 14 year old boy as a 26 year old man

    “no matter his intent, was to reinforce”

    Among homophobes

    “the widespread association between “preys on children” and “has sex with men.””

    Seriously.

    Nothing Spacey could have said would have changed that outcome.

    Honestly, what could Spacey have said that would forever prevent homophobes from using Spacey as proof that gay == pedophile? The words do not exist.

    The prejudice that gay==pedophile is in the listener. Not the speaker.

    Spacey attempted to sexually assault a boy. Is that going to reinforce gay==pedophile? Among homophobes, sure.

    And when a straight person says “I dont see that association” from spaceys actions or words, they are saying they arent a bigot.

    The association is made in the reader or listener, not the speaker.

    By putting the power in the speaker, it becomes impossible for a listener to report that they hear the words differently. And so they must be attacked.

    If you allow that any association is made in the listener, then people can hear things differently without being attacked.

    I know what spacey did, and i will not let that reinforce any notion that gay==pedophile. I have read what spacey wrote in his apology, and i will not let that reinforce any notion that gay==pedophile.

    Will others? Certainly. But you HAVE to let me have my own reaction. Otherwise Spacey becomes some all powerful sorcerer and all the power is in his words, and I no longer have any power in my listening.

  102. Kevin, I respect that your experience as an adolescent having consensual sex with adults was good. However, I also respect Rapp’s explicit statement that his situation was in no way consensual.

    Coming in, drunk, and lying on top of somebody is not “seduction”. It is especially not “seduction” when you’re dealing with somebody of 14, whom you should not be seducing, period. (Yes, 14 is developmentally very different from 16.) Another actor has come forward and said that he was sleeping on a sofa after declining Spacey’s sexual advances. He woke up to find Spacey’s arms around him.

    We are not talking about seduction. We are talking about assault.

  103. Having criticized Mr. Scalzi on occasion, I feel compelled to give him his due. Doing only those things you would feel good telling your wife about is some of the best advice I have heard in a long time. Cheers.

  104. If by “intention” we mean the objective absolute (which is impossible to determine), and not a pretended(by the speaker) or assumed intention(by the listener), then yes.

    If you mean “The speaker can just blab and the listener has to find the meaning”, then no.

    If, for example, the president of the US (or someone important) said he hates tuna fish, who would you blame if someone goes and destroys all tuna?
    The person destroying the tuna, or the person who said he didn’t like it, but didn’t add that this shouldn’t mean that all tuna should be destroyed?
    Both equally?
    You can blame the speaker for not realizing or caring that there are persons about who might take it as a suggestion to destory all tuna, sure.
    But that’s still different from blaming him for the extinction of tuna.

    I have to say, I don’t feel comfortable with the word “responsibility” here – the wording looks like a trap.

    @Grace Annam
    I have no quarrel with what you said. I read your post as blaming Spacey for either indeed meaning what some think or not caring how it might be seen. Both options are bad, I agree.

  105. When we are discussing “intentions,” I think we also need to consider that follow up matters. For example, my reaction to hearing that the LGBTQ community reacted with anger to Spacey’s comment was something like those above who said: “But that isn’t the way I read his comment!” And then I thought about it for, oh, twenty seconds, and finally said: “Shit. How could I have missed that? Thank you, LGBQT community, for pointing me at one of my own blind spots.” If Spacey (who, as several people on both sides of the argument have pointed out, was already involved in a situation that would have caused various homophobes to say: “See! See! We told you all gay men are pedophiles!”) had come up out with something like that immediately after being criticized, I MIGHT be willing to accept that his intentions were good, or at least fumblingly inarticulate.

    Or maybe not. I’ve also got to admit, and please believe me when I say I’m embarrassed to admit this, that my initial reaction to Spacey’s statement was fueled by this vague sense that he was trying to draw a distinction between being gay and being a pedophile–that he was saying something like “I’m gay. But I’m not a pedophile, so don’t condemn me.” And I also found myself vaguely squicked as I thought this, because I couldn’t quite figure why he felt he needed to make that point so strongly if he wasn’t a pedophile . . . and then I read some of the criticisms and I realized what he HAD done, intentionally or not, and I wanted to apologize to every gay person I knew for Seriously Missing the Point.

    I’ll try to do better in the future.

  106. Thanks, John, I kinda needed this read.

    I’ve been in a relationship for a few years with a wonderful person who has been my partner in personal growth (flailingly at first, our personal traumas had an amazing ability of working together when we weren’t looking and we had problems articulating said traumas to each other until we got to reading, growing some and then therapy to help manage the self-regulation. It’s been a journey.).

    I’ve come a long way in that time, so much so that I can finally look back at my historical behaviour and… be disappointed in myself. I *can* be disappointed, instead of reflexively defending my actions and poorly understood choices like an animal with a computer stapled to it. That’s a milestone right there. I was glad to see you share it here.

    And yes, the ‘Partner Test’ is real and worth practicing, I can attest.

    Anyway, all that to say I appreciate your take on the Ordeal in the Entertainment Industry. I’ve been working on my current behaviours and now I’m of a mind to review what to do to correct past behaviours if at all possible. Most of the people I’ve creeped on in the past are well past, but not all. I’ll be taking notes from what you said here, but so far, in general, it comes down to: apologize sincerely, empathize with pain caused and offer reconciliation.

  107. Christoph, if you’re going to make an analogy to this case, you need an analogy with equal emotional weight. Nobody, in the history of the United States, has lynched a tuna. Gay people have been lynched. Effects on people are different from effects on animal populations, unless you’re a member of PETA.

    Here’s an analogy that I think does have equal emotional weight. Donald Trump, while running for office, said numerous times that Muslims — not just terrorists, but Muslims — were the enemy. He didn’t say it in so many words AFAIK, but he certainly implied it. Since his election, hate crimes against brown people — not just Muslims, but Hindus and Sikhs and other people who could be mistaken for Muslims — have risen dramatically, much faster than they were rising before his election. I think he has responsibility for that.

    Which is where I think we have an axiomatic difference. One of my axioms is that a sentient being is responsible — and yes, that word has a moral and emotional weight, and I embrace that weight — for the consequences of their actions, no matter what their intentions for them were. Ditto words. I am hearing that your axiom is closer to “A sentient being is responsible for the intentions behind their words, and not for other people’s interpretation of those words.” I’m calling these axioms because it’s like a mathematical proof. If you say that given any point and line, you can construct precisely one line parallel through that point, you’ve got Euclidean geometry. If you say that you can construct more than one lines, you’ve got non-Euclidean geometry. Both valid systems, but they’re going to give you different geometric results. Similarly, with moral philosophy, which I think we’re getting into, your axioms heavily affect the results you come to.

  108. So basically everyone in entertainment right now, you could say, has the smallest inkling of what it’s like to be a woman in the entertainment industry, and not to know whether the person you’re meeting with will blow up your project or your career because of their behavior.

    This. It’s pretty much the point of the whole piece. Because there’s a real sense floating around of “Omigod, this is so difficult, we’re so persecuted, you have to worry about being misunderstood!, omigod how can I live if I have to think about what I do,” etc., etc., etc.

    Welcome to the real world, guys. You’ve just had a brief tiny glimpse of the crap you’ve been dumping on women since forever. And apparently you’re crushed by this micro-dose?

    Pardon me while I laugh.

    (And glad to see that Scalzi gets it.)

  109. Madame: “Donald Trump … said … Muslims … were the enemy.”

    Spacey never said I was a pedophile because I am gay.
    Homophobes are going to HEAR that.
    But thats not what Spacey said.

    So, its not a fair comparison when someone says “I didnt hear that” in spaceys apology to then invoke Trump saying “muslims are the enemy”. Trump is literally saying the thing that bigots want to hear. Is that meaning in trumps words? Absolutely, because he is literally saying those words with those meanings.

    Spacey’s apology was basically “i dont remember the incident, but I am sorry for him carrying this for so many years. Also, I have been hiding my sexuality, but given this public conversation, i am acknowledging that I am gay”.

    Is “gay == pedophile” in Spaceys apology? No. Are homphobes going to make that connection? Sure. Is it ok for other people to NOT make that connection? Absolutely.

    If someone says they dont see that connection to then come up with a strawman analogy of Trump saying, literally, “muslims are the enemy” and say its exactly the same thing? Not really, no.

  110. Dear Kevin,

    Why is this any of your business???

    Your insistence upon being told details of Rapp’s life that should have nothing to do with the charge against Spacey is exactly why women (and men) hate to report rapes, sexual assaults and harassment. Because their psyche and their “reputation” will get raked over the coals.

    If you don’t instantly get this and think to yourself ,”OMG, I just fell into at trap,” then I recommend you Google “how to report sexual harassment scalzi” and read the Whatever columns and especially comments about Elise’s experience and you will get it.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Dear Clancy,

    ” I’m telling you I’m clueless about the dog-whistle…”

    “… All opinions are relevant. Not all are correct. Fewer still make much sense, but you nullify my life experiences and my worth as a human being by suggesting otherwise.”

    Wow, really? A subject on which you acknowledge your are ignorant, that you quite literally don’t know what you are talking about because you lack the relevant life experiences, and you insist we are obligated to listen to and respect your opinion? Your ignorant and uninformed opinion?

    Really?

    And that somehow it denies your worth as a human being if we don’t?!?!

    Wow.

    No, it only denies your worth as someone competent on this narrow subject. If your entire concept of worth is tied up in being competent on this narrow subject, well…

    Homework for you. Use your Google foo to get educated on how the LGBT community feels about this. For extra credit, consider their feelings and opinions overrule yours. For bonus points look up “entitlement.”

    pax / Ctein

  111. Madame Hardy, I’ve seen the other allegations that have cropped up about Spacey since Rapp named him, but I’ve chosen to focus on Rapp because his situation is one I can identify with. I’ve never been in Spacey’s situation.

    Rapp was 14 and a half at the time this happened. Older than Shakespeare’s Juliet when she married Romeo. A year and a half younger than I was my first time. I know boys who started younger than I did. Developmental maturity isn’t something that happens on your 15th or 16th birthday. It’s a process that starts earlier in some people, and progresses at different rates. We can say generally that a typical 16-year-old boy is more advanced than a typical 14-year-old boy. But this is two specific boys: a barely 16-year-old me, and Anthony Rapp, who was halfway between 14 and 15. And only Rapp could tell us how ready he was for sex (though not with Spacey) at the time of the incident.

    I’d also add that while I appreciate the “service” that some of my older sex partners did for me when I was a teenager, I don’t respect them for it. I their motivation was self-serving, and the idea of grown men wanting to have sex with teenagers makes me queasy. I think a better way for adults to serve the sexual needs of gay adolescents is to encourage them to participate in some of the sexual play that their straight peers do. Starting even younger than 14. By this I mean chaperoned dates, school dances, lemonade on the front porch, “going steady”. Basically learning how to do relationships before they start having sex.

  112. Oh, they’ll get the blowback, that’s for sure. And if they don’t immediately work to clarify their meaning, the responsibility is on them. However, in general, it’s best not to flavor another’s intent with your own bias. That’s all I’m saying. Listen to what they *say*, not what you think they mean. Act on what they *do*, not what you think they might do in the future.

  113. ctein, I don’t insist on knowing anything. And I agree it’s none of my business. I’m just trying to relate my own experiences with those of Rapp, and I’m wondering (without any expectation that Rapp will even hear my query, let alone answer in this forum) how his adolescence compares with mine.

  114. Sorry, but lectures from the faceless are less than useless. But go ahead and keep trying to glue mouths that basically agree with you, though, obviously, not *hard* enough. You should probably stop talking now…

  115. @Mary Frances
    You are ashamed for not immediately jumping to the worst possible interpretation?
    For giving someone the benefit of doubt, even if unconsciously?

    I’m not saying one should close their mind to the worst possible interpretations, all too often it’s true, but why does it have to be the default to the exclusion of everything else?

    Follow-up does matter – I don’t know how Spacey reacted, I’m sure by now it’s obvious how whatever he said has been understood.
    If he immediately back-pedalled, trying to explain this wasn’t what he meant, then I’d see the situation differently than if he didn’t say anything or maybe even reinforce that interpretation.

    @Madame Hardy (@mme_hardy)
    Regarding Trump: I’m quite certain that this was his intention, at least the general direction, inspiring hatred. It’s not as if he’d ever seriously condemned what happens during his time.

    Yes, he is responsible for that – although not quite as much as those actually committing these crimes. (A small but important distinction. If you treat all crimes equally, why should anyone restrain themselves while doing a crime.)

    The tuna example was meant to illustrate what I mean without forcing too many emotions or secondary discussions. It was not meant to be a lighthearted comparison of situations, only of principles.

    Perhaps a completely different thought helps:

    How many innocents are you willing to sacrifice to catch one (1) guilty?

    In my opinion: zero.
    To clarify: this is not meant as an absolute rule, but as an ideal to aspire to, even if in practice it’s impossible.
    If you start out saying “Well, I can accept hurting one person to save another from being hurt”, then in the end, no one is safe.
    Either the guilty get them, or the system that accepts innocent sacrifices – you cannot trust anyone anymore.

  116. “A subject on which you acknowledge your are ignorant, that you quite literally don’t know what you are talking about because you lack the relevant life experiences, and you insist we are obligated to listen to and respect your opinion?”

    I am sorry you haven’t been paying attention. I never said anything about you being “obligated” to do anything. Any more than I should. I only request you listen to my opinion as I have respectfully listened to yours, and acknowledge that my feelings on the subject are also valid. I don’t have to agree with you, nor you with me, on every point of contention, but we can come to an understanding through such exchange. When you shut down my side of the exchange, you *do* invalidate my worth as a human being.

    Methinks you are the one who needs to get a firmer understanding of the word entitlement. I’ll wait…

  117. Folks, again, we seem to be more cranky than conversational. I suggest we tie off the above conversational thread, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere useful, and move on.

  118. Dear Kevin,

    I do understand that your motives are benign, unlike the harassment deniers in the world. You are NOT being a bad person!

    The problem is that you’re still falling into the same trap of raising questions about the victim’s psyche and experience. And it’s not you wondering about this on a private personal level— you’re doing it in a public forum. You’re asking others the questions that they can’t answer, that only Rapp could answer, and that you should be asking of yourself in private.

    If this is an issue you need to be dealing with, I can appreciate that. But you’re still doing it in a social fashion which goes to the heart of why people don’t report sexual assaults and harassment.

    You’re making something that isn’t about you, about you. That’s also what the deniers do. Again, you’re not doing it for their malign reasons, but you’re still “walking the walk.” I am suggesting you need to really think about that.

    I’m not trying to deny your experience. Absolutely not.

    Let me make a very over-the-top analogy:

    There are women and men in the world who like to be forced into having sex. For them it is a turn-on. It’s an entirely acceptable kink in a known, consensual situation. But, if someone who knows of that kink — maybe even shares that kink — were to try that in the real world, with people from whom they haven’t obtained advance consent…

    Yeah, that’s not going to go well! (Obvious understatement.)

    What your musings are are broadly equivalent to responding to a rape victim’s accusations with, “Well, you know, I like to be forced into having sex.”

    I totally get is that this is NOT what you’re trying to do.

    But it is what your words do.

    On a different level, which really doesn’t apply to you, other people focusing on Rapp’s age is misguided. If he were 20, and drunk, and forced (non-consensually and with not the least invitation on his part) down onto a bed, it would still be sexual assault. His age doesn’t matter.

    If this isn’t clear to any of the readers, do a sex (as well as age) change and make Rapp a 20-year-old woman. Would Spacey’s behavior have been okay? If not, why would it be okay if it involves another man?

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  119. Dear John,

    Damn you, and I had such a BRILLIANT retort!

    Unfortunately it is too long to write in the margins of this post.

    pax / Ctein

  120. I’m trying to tie it off, I’d rather I never starting reading, or at least kept myself from posting…
    There’s a hundred topics I’d rather talk about, dental surgery among them – it would still be less painful.

    I can accept that other people have different opinions from mine, but I get cranky when others are trying to explain to me what I’m thinking.

    I can (and often do) take responsibility for things I did or said. But I fail to understand why I should be held responsible for things I never did. To me, that is like guilt by association, another concept I don’t like.
    If I say something insulting, and upon learning that it was insulting, my response isn’t “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.”, then sure – go ahead and whack me.
    But the whack should be for not correcting the unintentional wrong, not for doing something I didn’t know was wrong.

  121. @rickg17 11/1/17 2:21PM: it DOES mean there’s not a hard, bright line.

    True, but there do seem to be some obvious minimum threshholds: Keep your mits (and other body parts) off people from whom you don’t have explicit consent to touch (including and especially people who are in any way inebriated). Keep your damn clothes on. Don’t ask, suggest, or hint at anything physical or sexual with someone from whom you don’t have explicit consent.

    If someone says “no” or “don’t do that,” hear them the first time and back the fuck off.

    Stick to those guidelines, and you’re 75% of the way there.

  122. Ctein, Am I really causing you to question whether Spacey was in the wrong to throw himself at Rapp? Or are you concerned that I might be causing less discerning people to question it?

    Leaving aside Rapp’s age at the time, Spacey’s drunken behavior strikes me as boorish. He obviously did things that made Rapp uncomfortable. But he didn’t rape Rapp. And he didn’t shout “you’ll never work in this town again” as Rapp made his exit. Taken as a single incident, this doesn’t seem to rise to a career-ending (or even a presidential) level.

    If Rapp had been a 20-year-old woman and after pushing Spacey off her and beating a hasty exit, he followed her to the door and asked, “do you really want to leave?” I wouldn’t feel any different. Especially since she went on to have a successful career in movies and on Broadway.

  123. Dear Kevin,

    Rapp’s assault isn’t about me… any more than it is about you.

    Think about how what you initially wrote looks in the large social context. You echoed denier rhetoric and intention, which feeds that mindset, even though that was not your purpose. That is why you got piled on.

    pax / Ctein

  124. Kevin,
    I didnt want to leave this on the floor. What you describe happened to you is rape/molestation. Survivors can suffer even years and decades later as an adult. If you have trouble maintaining heathy relationships, feel depression or anxiety, have sleep problems such as recurring nightmares, or are fighting addiction, I would offer that good professional help can substantially improve your quality of life. A survivors support group could give you a place to safely unpack some of this for you.

    Wanted to offer that before the whole thread gets shut down.

  125. I’m feeling a bit… annoyed… at the latest wave of harassment / predation / sexual misconduct allegations hitting the internet. Specifically, gender bias and what used to be called “gay panic.” I appreciate that men may occasionally be on the receiving end of gross, predatory behavior. But what is being reported by some men is behavior that our society calls a pass, a come on, or a “mild expression of interest” when the recipient is female. No, I don’t like to have my ass patted as a new acquaintance at a professional conference invites me up to his hotel room to “discuss the state of the industry.” That’s me. I’ve known women who shrug it off, or even consider it flattering. Most women who’ve survived long enough to legally vote just fucking deal with it.

    Apparently, however, according to some of the latest reports, when a male experiences the same behavior from another male it’s deeply traumatizing and all parties need to retreat into therapy to deal with the issues that have been festering underneath their apparent façade of happiness, success, good health, and career fulfillment. Back in the ‘80s, we called that “gay panic” and the prescription was “welcome to the sisterhood, pull up a chair.”

    A man inviting another man to a candle-lit picnic dinner in a chaperoned, public place is not a predator. He’s hopeful, and maybe a little awkward, but no one is trapped in a hotel room being masturbated at, with their immediate safety and future livelihood under direct threat. Even drunken fumbling at underage girls is not that unusual in the real world, entertainment industry or not, and absolutely no stage mom ever has filed a police report or suggested publicizing the episode. It happens at post-prom parties in mom and dad’s basement every spring all over the USA, for dog’s sake.

    Because females don’t count. Assault, rape, and even murder of women barely registers as a possible sex offense. Offenders walk away with a month’s probation because jail might be tough on the poor college boy who just couldn’t help himself… but if a man touches a man, well, we can’t have that!

    I’m especially annoyed right now, because I am seeing blatant hypocrisy from a male known as an aggressively heterosexual ass-grabber bleating that someone male he once worked with asked him out. And I’m sorry, but when you’ve made a career habit of rubbing your male crotch against female ass on set, yelling “you like that, right?” I am not going to give a whole lot credence to 20 or 30 year old feeeels.
    It takes 70 years, multiple lawsuits, millions of dollars in settlements, and 10,000+ women saying #metoo, to get an industry to acknowledge that straight-up grotesque, serial, criminal predation might possibly be an issue. A couple of men are squicked that another man liked them “that way,” well, hoo boy, now we have a problem! The Beverly Hills PD is all over it, no worries fellas, they gotcher back.

    Yes, I’m annoyed.

  126. Hi. I wish I ways as optimistic as some of you are about the step forward this wave might represent. In that context, have y’all noticed the remarkable career resurrection of Mel Gibson that’s happening as we speak? I know it’s not the same—his publicly-known misogyny and physical assaults were against women he was in relationships with IIRC. His violations of the code of human decency are extensive. And yet his star is seemingly reborn, even in the midst of this moment of awakening.

  127. Thanks, John, for another fine post. As to conservatives wanting a freebie, have they forgotten about the Foxies: Ailes, O’Reilly and Bolling? A lot of males, left and right, live in that glass house.
    And while I appreciate the examination of the entertainment industry and entertainment dudes (and the comments about the conditions in this industry that make it conducive to abuse), I think you could drop the adjective and still be accurate. As the MeToo hashtag shows, the problem is rampant in nearly every industry and in academe, and we already knew about it in the military.

    And thanks, Madame Hardy, for a number of useful remarks, and the Anita Hill link. I believed her back then, too.

  128. Greg, back off. My entire point was that the few isolated encounters with older men that happened to me as a teenager did NOT lead me to a life of depression, insomnia, and drug abuse. You seem far more disturbed by my anecdote than I am. It has been three and a half decades and it’s not the most important thing that has happened to me.

  129. Kevin: “back off.”

    Um, you’ve spent this entire thread revealing personal information about your past and asking extremely personal questions about Rapp’s past around being sexually assaulted. Was he a virgin? Did he have sex with older men before? What was it about the Spacey incident that he didn’t like? Was he not attracted to him? His age?

    All this personal information and all these personal probing questions, and you feel I overstepped because I *offered* that *if* you were affected, help is available? I wasn’t asking you any questions. I wasn’t asking you personal information. I wasn’t even asking you to respond to my post. Having seen the effects molestation can have on other people, I was offering information and support *just in case*.

    Honestly, as openly as you’ve been talking about your past and as probing and personal your questions of Rapp have been, I figured you’d just shrug at the offer and say “Meh, I’m good”. I confess I did not expect the man with the twenty questions to react to [a non-questioning offer of support if needed] as a overstepping of boundaries. First time for everything, I suppose.

    “My entire point was that the few isolated encounters with older men that happened to me as a teenager did NOT lead me to a life of depression, insomnia, and drug abuse. ”

    And for Rapp, maybe it did. I’ve seen what it can do to other people. For some, that’s the outcome.

    I never said it was that way for YOU. And I specifically avoided ASKING if it was that way for you because it can be a personal question for some people that makes them uncomfortable. I specifically OFFERED that IF you were having any of these issues THEN help is available. No questions posted. No demands. No expectation of any answer.

  130. I’ve had a few encounters of the ass-grabby kind, and while they didn’t exactly scar me, they were definitely not welcomed and I certainly do remember them as cautionary tales.

    In the library, since staff is currently largely female, we are vigilant and cautious about such things. Especially since we hire student helpers who are frequently still in high school and female, we keep an eye out for unwanted attention no matter the source; the informal slang is “Creeper, no creeping!” Very few people at the ripe old age of 14 are self-possessed enough to tell an older someone to back off and make it stick without assistance.

Comments are closed.