Matt Damon may not stand accused of sexual harassment like an increasing amount of powerful men, but one of Hollywood’s all-round “nice guys” has some disturbing and dated views on sexual harassment.
While flogging a new movie, the actor has, regrettably, weighed in on the Harvey Weinstein case, revealing some tone-deaf attitudes that are more frat bar than feminist.
It started a little more than a week ago when Damon spoke about a so-called “spectrum of behavior”, while purporting to condemn sexual misconduct.
“And we're going to have to figure — you know, there's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?," Damon said.
“Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn't be conflated, right?"
Righto. Placing ass fondling on the favourable end of a spectrum with rape or child molestation is excusing the kind of entitled and toxic male behaviour he swears he’s not a fan of. It’s introducing a spectrum where there never was one.
There was more to come. Yesterday, he told Business Insider that he was a nice guy and people had forgotten to congratulate him on not abusing anyone:
“We're in this watershed moment and it's great, but I think one thing that's not being talked about is there are a whole s---load of guys – the preponderance of men I've worked with – who don't do this kind of thing and whose lives aren't going to be affected.”
The reaction on social media was swift, with commentators lining up to point out that there is nothing special about not abusing or harassing women, that it’s the base standard that women should be entitled to.
Minnie Driver, Damon’s co-star on Good Will Hunting and ex, tweeted her disapproval and told The Guardian: “I’ve realised that most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off in their ability to understand,” she said. “They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.”
There are genuinely nice guys who respect women’s bodies and are not personally affronted by the feminist movement’s attempts to call out sexual harassers.
And then there are blokes singing from Damon’s songbook. Men so insecure in their masculinity that they feel discomfited by the #metoo cause, countering it with their own #notallmen movement.
They come out of the woodwork every time women call out abusers, or speak openly about sexism.
They rile against the open discussion of women’s sex lives, as many did when the New Yorker’s Cat Person went viral. Unable to separate the dysfunctional man in the short story from themselves — or perhaps fearing they’re THAT GUY — they took to Twitter to lampoon it.
So congratulations, Matt Damon, you’ve joined the ranks of the tone-deaf, reactive apologists. Now a word of advice: Next time stick to the script. Ideally someone else’s.