We are currently in the middle of a moral panic based on historic wrongdoing (or perceived wrong doing) of some famous men. Events began with allegations against a famous Hollywood mogul - Harvey Weinstein dating back a couple of decades or so. There is little question that Weinstein is a wretched character. Whether he broke any laws is still open to question and will not be answered until we see a proper trial. There is little doubt, however, that his behaviour was unacceptable - then as now - and few people, me included, would take issue with that. Pretty soon, however, scores of women came forward (to the press in most cases) with their stories of historic sexual abuse, and a campaign to encourage others, called Me Too, was started. Here is where the problems began.
Feminists have long been campaigning for a 'listen and believe' policy with regard to women making allegations of rape or sexual abuse. They insist that women don't lie about these matters and that looking for evidence, let alone treating the allegation with scepticism, is tantamount to further abuse of the already traumatised victim. Few have been willing to speak up against this idea because they are usually immediately branded as a misogynist and subjected to widespread abuse, both on social media and in the mainstream broadcast media. The fact that what is being proposed amounts to an abandonment of due process and flies in the face of basic legal principles - innocent until proven guilty, the right to face one's accuser, the right to a proper defence - is blithely ignored, as is the fact that the starting assumption - that women don't lie about these matters - is demonstrably wrong.
So what we now have is a sudden deluge of allegations against men, most of which date back decades, which are being treated with very little scepticism and simply accepted as true. The targets of the allegations face loss of job, social standing, and in some cases family. Feminists justify this by saying that even if a few men are badly done to, it is nothing compared to the generations of wrongdoing endured by women. This 'tit for tat' mentality is abhorrent and, as with all eye for an eye situations, the main result will be lots of blind people.
A few brave people have tried to urge caution. When Matt Damon pointed out, in the most reasonable of language, that there might be a difference between rape and touching someone's knee or backside, he was immediately condemned. When actress Meryl Streep dared to comment that Weinstein had done nothing improper to her, one of the alleged victims - Rose McGowan - accused her of being 'willingly silent'. Most recently, French actress Catherine Deneuve has been widely pilloried for her criticisms of the 'me too' campaign in anopen letter.
The way feminists deal with any criticism is, by now, familiar. They immediately assert that the critic is, de facto, supporting the abuse and belittling the victims. This is usually enough to cower the critic into either retracting their criticism or withdrawing from the debate entirely. The overall effect has been to scare off criticism and encourage a nauseating wave of virtue signalling, particularly from the usual suspects in Hollywood.
One particularly noteworthy example was actress Natalie Portman, who was extremely anxious, as she co-presented the Golden Globe awards, to establish her 'right on' credentials - making various snide comments during the evening. This, bear in mind, is the same woman who is good pals with Roman Polanski. In fact a couple of years ago she started a petition to have him allowed back into the US. Why is Mr Polanski not free to enter the US, you might ask? Because he anally raped a 13 yr old girl in 1978. He was found guilty, after fleeing the country, and faces arrest upon entering the US. So how does this woman have the brass neck to lecture people on men behaving badly?
Answers on a postcard please.......or, seriously, please leave a comment if you really do have some insight into the matter. I genuinely don't understand how she can keep a straight face whilst uttering hypocritical garbage like this - maybe she is a better actress than I thought ?
So we are now in a world where an actress can appear on coast-to-coast TV in the US and tell the world that her life was utterly ruined by the fact that Dustin Hoffman walked out of the shower with his penis in full sight about 40 years ago. Not only do people treat her sympathetically, instead of telling her to grow up, scores of hit-pieces then appear in the mainstream press. There have been an outpouring of allegations - many even more trivial than this - over the past weeks.
The overall effect of this nonsense is that some men will suffer huge injustice. The lucky ones will be wealthy enough to deal with it but the less famous will face ruin. Women will also suffer. The seriousness of genuine sexual assault and rape will continue to be undermined by trivial incidents being grouped in the same category. Men will re-appraise their interactions and dealings with women - and I, for one, would not blame them. This may lead many to conclude that they should be wary about un-chaperoned contact with women, which in turn will lead to women losing many opportunities - chances to be coached by seniors at work; invitations into the unofficial social circles that are important in many work situations; even in some cases the chance of getting the job they want.
Finally the whole thing will just serve to further infantilise women, striking directly at the progress made over the last few decades in establishing women as independent members of society, deserving of equal treatment and able to function as fully autonomous actors within that society. Instead the picture is of fragile little flowers, unable to cope with boorish behaviour and in need of protection from the nasty world and the nasty men within it.