• Hannah Gadsby is right, good men shouldn't be in charge of calling out sexism. (Twitter)
Neil deGrasse Tyson's sexual harassment allegations and revelations that Wall Street executives are segregating themselves only serve to prove Gadsby's point.
By
Caitlin Chang

7 Dec 2018 - 1:20 PM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2018 - 1:48 PM

COMMENT

Hannah Gadsby has had enough of 'good men'. 

Delivering the opening speech at The Hollywood Reporter’s 2018 Women in Entertainment gala, her blistering monologue calls out late-night show hosts - who she refers to as “the Jimmys” - and the way they talk about bad men.

“I’m sick of turning my television on at the end of the day to find anywhere up to 12 Jimmys giving me their hot take,” she told the somewhat stunned crowd. “The last thing I need right now in this moment in history is to have to listen to men monologue about misogyny and how other men should just stop being ‘creepy’ - as if that’s the problem.” 

Because, as Gadsby points out, the problem is it’s only the good men who get to draw the line in the sand, and "all men believe they are good."

What's more, Gadsby says it's a line that keeps moving, depending on whether these good men are in the locker room or in front of their mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. There's a different line for when men are with friends and another for when they have a few drinks. 

She's right. When good men are in charge of drawing the line that can’t be crossed, we end up with the year that we’ve had, with what feels like an endless line of sexual misconduct allegations. Good guys like Louis C.K. or Geoffrey Rush. Men who Gadsby says don’t fit the mould of Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby.

Good guys like American science educator and TV presenter Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has recently been accused of sexual misconduct by four women, one an alleged rape dating back to the 1980s.

According to Buzzfeed News, which has been working on the story for three years, one allegation was from Ashley Watson, an aspiring Hollywood producer who worked on Tyson’s hit show Cosmos as a driver and personal assistant. The 28-year-old details being on the receiving end of untoward advances, including being asked to his home for wine, being told by Tyson that she is “too distracting” to get work as a TV producer and that he wanted to hug her "so bad" but would "just want more".

Tyson has addressed those allegations in a lengthy Facebook post, apologising for his actions and claiming they were misunderstood. "My intent was to express restrained but genuine affection," he wrote.

Again, Tyson has decided where the line in the sand sits, and has decided his behaviour towards Watson doesn’t cross it. But a good guy would have helped Watson advance her career, not invite a young woman to his apartment to share a bottle of wine.

Tyson’s response to these accusations shows what happens when good guys are in charge of drawing a line in the sand. Of one accusation, where Tyson is accused of putting his hand in a woman’s dress to look at her tattoo in 2009, he wrote, “I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behaviour [sic] creepy. That was never my intent and I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way.”

But that’s the problem with intentions, it fails to consider the receiver of that intent. Reaching into a woman’s dress is not as simple as “creepy behaviour”, it’s dehumanising. As Gadsby pointed out in her monologue, “men aren’t creepy….Rejecting the humanity of a woman is not creepiness; it is misogyny.”

Tyson’s reaction to the allegations highlights the problem when good men get to decide where that line in the sand lies; they also get to decide whether or not they have crossed it.

According to Bloomberg, some men working on Wall Street are avoiding women because they are unsure how to navigate the workplace in a post MeToo era; making life even harder for female colleagues trying to advance their careers. Called the “Pence Effect” (named after US Vice-President Mike Pence who famously said he won’t dine with women alone), it’s reported that men are avoiding one-on-one meetings, sitting next to female co-workers on flights, and essentially creating gender segregation in order to protect themselves.

Representatives from the New York City’s mayor’s office have blasted the behaviour of men on Wall St in a letter to the editor of Bloomberg, calling it “ironic and sickening that some men’s reaction to the MeToo movement would be to further restrict women’s ability to succeed on Wall Street.”

They continue: “If men at Wall Street firms are incapable of the simple act of having dinner alone with a woman without making fools of themselves, then those men pose a financial and cultural liability to the company.”

As some men on Wall Street try to grapple with an environment less tolerant of sexism, they’ve been left confused and flailing as behaviour that would never cross their line is no longer acceptable.

Luckily for these good men, there is a very easy solution to their problem: listen to women. Forget your intentions, and just listen. As Hannah Gadsby said herself, “Women should be in control of that line, no question.” Ignoring women is how we got into this whole mess in the first place.

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