I really do not understand why it has been so hard for men in Hollywood to come forward and admit to sexual misconduct without any excuse or wordplay. Why can’t they say, “I did it – I treated people poorly and made them feel like pieces of meat?” Whether you are looking at Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, or even most recently Mario Batali, it has been a whole lot of “I thought the relationship was consensual” or “I was drunk” or whatever the excuse du jour might be. In the case of Batali, as Bustle and several other publications noted, he apologized for his alleged sexual misconduct and then included a recipe for cinnamon buns. Could there be any greater demonstration of how lightly he – and quite probably others – take allegations of sexual misconduct?
For Matt Damon to also come forward and badly argue there is a sort of sexual misconduct spectrum is simply asinine. After all, he has not been accused of anything, so why step forward and talk? I get that he was embroiled in an interview at the time, but as the father of four daughters, one would think he would have known better to even attempt to suggest that one instance of unwanted touching is quite different than another. As the parent of daughters myself, I know only too well that if anyone was to touch my girls inappropriately, the person engaging in sexual misconduct with either of my children will need medical assistance immediately; while one is a black belt and the other is well on her way to becoming one, and with two very protective parents, I would expect that whomever crossed that line into sexual misconduct with my girls would realize just how very mistaken they were to make such a move.
Sexual misconduct is wrong.
Any unwanted touching is wrong.
Just bloody own up to it, Hollywood.
I got thinking about the sexual misconduct scandal that David Letterman was embroiled in back in 2009. Without going into too many details, a CBS producer had discovered a diary in which Letterman detailed his affair with Stephanie Birkitt and then proceeded to blackmail the talk show host. Letterman, per Daily Mail, very publicly admitted that he “had sex with women who work for” him. While I’m certain that he made that admission with careful consideration with his legal team and so forth, it was still a very bold – and blunt – move.
I found I respected Letterman for having made such a public admission of sexual misconduct. Sure, he admitted to what appeared to be consensual sexual relations with some of his staffers, but it could be considered sexual misconduct for the simple fact that there are very few workplaces where it should be the norm – or even expected – that you would become sexually involved with your boss. Letterman could have made his admission through his legal team, or through a statement released through the network; he did not. He used his own show – his home away from home – to publicly own the fact that he screwed up, big time, and he did not try to pretty it up with legalese. He called a spade a spade, which is far more than some of those being accused of sexual misconduct in Hollywood are doing lately.
More people, whether they run in Hollywood circles or not, would do well to learn from a little bit of honesty about their misdeeds, whether it involves sexual misconduct or not. While no one will respect you for having engaged in sexual misconduct, your honesty will save the victims from further embarrassment and emotional trauma from what happened. The safeguarding of the victims in sexual misconduct cases should be what is most important – not the safeguarding of the alleged perpetrator’s ego or career.