Harvey, Ben And #MeToo



The good news is that your preferred sexual monster is worse than my preferred sexual monster and I can prove it with quickly sourced photos from google.

The good news keeps rolling, as more and more information comes out on the full extent of their deviance, we get to feel even more secure: I’d never do that, ergo I’m not part of the problem. I can feel like a good man because I absolutely draw the line at that kind of deviance.

This is where that overused term “virtue signalling” comes in. Men commenting across the internet sharing their disapproval of “that kind of thing”. Joining in hash tags, arguing with other men about the issue. A virtuous Mr Meeseeks, I only exist to flag my virtue and once I get a like or retweet from a woman on Twitter I cease to exist. Existence is pain.

We were exposed to a similar process during what then seemed like the end of the Trump campaign over the “pussy grabbing” tapes. Slowly most Republicans stepped away from Trump purely because it was only the fact that they had conceived daughters that meant they had a conscience about Trump’s comments.

This was bad news for me. I only have a son and so I haven’t learned empathy or understood what is inappropriate. Alas, I still thought pussy grabbing was perfectly reasonable and had only just been teaching my son the most efficient grabbing technique.

But it wasn’t the end. It lasted for a few days. The main defence from Trump and his fans was that this was just “locker room” talk. Cue the virtue signalling. Several high-profile sports people flew onto Twitter to proclaim that in all their years in sports, they had never, ever, under no circumstances used such deprived language to talk about women. They never did get to take two strokes of Jerry’s game.

Not to be outdone, amateur sports men also chipped in that they too had never used such words in or out of the locker room. Thankfully, their tweets were liked and they could remember that they are the good guys.

It must come as a relief to all us virtuous men that it really is just a few limited monsters out there. But it doesn’t add up. There’s too many experiences being shared for it to just be a few bad apples.

My exposure to locker rooms…or changing rooms as we didn’t have the luxury of a locker, just an old plastic bag to stick our stuff in, is admittedly limited. But I heard that kind of talk. It may not have been as direct as grab ‘em by the pussy, but it was pretty direct.

It might not have always been in the changing room as that was usually reserved for questioning loudly why the fuck I was in the team in the first place after another defeat. But it happened in the pub after, or the nightclub after that, or at work.

The English Premiership has had its share of scandals. There was a trend for a while in the early 2000s for the descriptive act of spit roasting. Apparantly, they organised, took part in (and as was exposed at the time, recorded on mobile phones) a threesome, but never discussed it? Ever?

These are sports whereby the dressing room machismo is so elevated that it is a barrier to gay players coming out for fear of reprisals (on and off the pitch/field). Where wives are seduced/swapped. Where underage girls are texted and groomed. Where rapes occur. But not once did they ever talk about grabbing a pussy while sitting in the changing room.

I can honestly say that I too have never had that specific discussion. But I can also honestly say that I have been and probably still am part of the problem. Thankfully, the likes of Weinstein are so abhorrent that I can overlook any need to address my own behaviour because I’m not that bad.

That’s why we keep the story going. It’s one man, one monster, “not all men”. Keep it about Weinstein and not the culture that makes it acceptable.

Keep the focus on Harvey and not those that facilitated and assisted him. Agents sent their clients to him knowing what he did and would do. Managers and parents the same. But just keep the focus on him and the really bad stuff he did. I don’t want to focus on me. Look at the monster, not me.

But there’s something personally heart-breaking in reading through the #MeToo stories. I can go a few ways. I, like many, can pick out the worst examples and use it as a badge of virtue that we have never and would never do that. But I can’t. I may never have done it, but I’ve seen it. I’ve ignored some, I’ve intervened in others. It doesn’t matter though,

I recognised enough of the stories to know it’s a problem. I always had known though. I didn’t do enough to intervene or stop it. Once or twice I was the guy who’s being written about.

Each generation has a jump towards the more progressive. It’s slow and just seems to happen. What used to happen in the background now happens online and in our faces. It’s uncomfortable because it’s calling out our language and behaviour and it’s never nice to know you might not be the all-round good guy you thought you were.

My generation was the children of those who were around in the 60s. Supposedly a progressive bunch, our parents still demonstrated a tendency to be pretty racist and homophobic. We would never say the “n word”. I can’t even type it. But “Paki” was part of our lexicon as were “Paki” jokes. Weird I can type that.

Just like our parents would have been right-on about the struggles of civil rights in America and the treatment of black people, but never really extended to black people in their neighbourhood. That was different. They weren’t lynching them, so it’s not the same.

Didn’t they know how bad black people had it in America? They should be grateful. (Insert comments to a woman about the size of her boobs being ok because doesn’t she know how bad women have it in Saudi?)

Comedies of the time had no problem with white comedians telling racist jokes, mimicking black people, black-face. So much for being the great progressive generation.

But for my generation, we thought ourselves progressive and accepting of homosexuality. But we’d still insult our friends with “fag”. Our comedies and movies would have gay characters where their only characteristic was that they were gay. Ha! Class. Another joke about taking it up the bum.

I like that I can look back and wince. It shows how far we’ve come. Its sad that the story is always a lamenting “we can’t say that anymore” and never “we shouldn’t have been saying it in the first place”.

We learn. Activists stood up and said it wasn’t right and enough of us took notice to change. Comedians moan about offence getting in the way of telling jokes, but it doesn’t. Offence gets in the way of bad, lazy, cheap jokes (like the gay character). We can still have humour that pushes the boundaries, we can live without the humour that’s just lazy stereotyping.

Words are replaceable. For all the shady history of the English language here and across the world, it still has the benefit of being a very rich language, especially with insults.

There are hundreds of colourful alternatives to calling someone a fag or a retard, we can live without the offensive ones and still a fulfilling life communicating with and insulting each other.

#MeToo isn’t just about words though, it’s about behaviour. That’s harder to change. It’s harder to accept your behaviour is wrong. Words are fine, I can change them, but behaviour means I’m a bad person and I think I’m not. Questioning behaviour feels like you’re attacking me. You are and you should.

But I always knew this really.

I can join the swathes of virtue signalling guys who are mostly in denial. I can make my condemnation about “them” the really bad guys. My problem is I know I’m not Harvey Weinstein, but I might be Ben Affleck.

The virtue signalling is only about the really bad stuff. I can help make the story about just the bad stuff, not all the other stuff. I can pretend I’ve never had the discussions with the lads about the new girl in the office…the ones that went a bit too far.

I can pretend I’ve never laughed at the jokes or comments or put some creepy behaviour by a friend down to them just being a bit weird or not being able to take a drink. I can ignore what are to me the worst stories, the ones that resonate with me because they are about me. It might not be me now, but it was me.

It’s not hard to replace words and be less offensive. It’s actually not hard to listen to stories and be a little less creepy. Heck, go all the way and be completely creep free. Don’t dismiss the stories. Don’t see it as another feminist charge to control men.

These are stories are from your family, friends and colleagues. Don’t just focus on the really bad ones, we can all agree that’s unacceptable, listen to the ones that may seem relatively benign, they’re part of the same picture.

Ease off the need to signal how good a person you are, these stories aren’t being told to validate your virtue. If you don’t see yourself in at least one of the stories, then you’re a better man than I was and I salute you. But maybe you know someone who is like that, maybe we can start there.

Listrade can be found on twitter @listrade

94 thoughts on “Harvey, Ben And #MeToo

  1. Liggy

    This is a really good piece Listrade. You are right to urge men to go beyond virtue signalling their disapproval of the monsters. Not all sexists wear horns and drooping tracksuits.

    In fact the myth of the ‘obvious looking monster’ has hurt men like Christopher Jefferies and Colin Stagg who were falsely accused of sex crimes and murder by papers keen to play the death porn game “look, look, a beautiful dead raped woman and the monster who monstered her”

    However, here is not the place to look for forgiveness for your “Ben Affleck” level misdemeanors, that should be face to face with the women you did this to.

  2. Listrade

    Just to clarify, I hopefully wasn’t asking for forgiveness at any point and the “Ben Affleck” was a bad analogy not a literal comparison to past deeds.

    1. Liggy

      My apologies then if that was not what you intended to convey. This is how it comes across ….
      My problem is I know I’m not Harvey Weinstein, but I might be Ben Affleck
      I know I have raped anyone but I might have groped someone.

      I don’t want that to take away from an otherwise excellent piece. It just jars a bit.

  3. Liggy

    That middle bit should have read:
    I know I have NOT raped anyone but I might have groped someone. (yes, I am in a glasshouse since you asked)

  4. missred

    Thanks for this Listrade. It takes a lot of balls to admit this stuff and get other blokes to examine their own collective behaviour at the same time.

  5. Nice Anne1

    This is the type you align yourself with as soon as you admit that you have done a “Ben Affleck”. This is a comedian pretending to ask for forgiveness by publishing a “aren’t I great for all the sexual abuse I committed” list. There;s a lot of it about this last couple of weeks. Each cold bragging point represents a traumatised woman, another #MeToo.

      1. Nice Anne1

        Freud would have said that there are no accidents….. or the writers on here need an edit button too.

        1. Listrade

          Don’t know about Freud, so probably the latter. Though even with an edit button I’d leave it in. It was a super dumb analogy and I should own it and live with any comments. It proves both yours and Liggy’s points but perhaps in a different way, in may haste I’m basically saying it’s only groping. Not my intention, but it’s more or less saying that.

          So it should stay.

          Besides yourself and Liggy make valid comments that would be out of context if it could be edited.

          1. Nice Anne1

            Nice to come to a consensus. Thanks for addressing the point I made.

            Rape – dispicable.
            Groping – dispicable and enabling behaviour for rape culture if not called out. Not ok.
            Trivialisating or normalising abuse of women through jokes or banter – enabling behaviour for rape culture if not called out. Not ok.

            We can ALL do better. I have been guilty of giving a thoughless giggle to rape jokes in the past too although I would not have stood to see any of my mates or myself felt up. Not any more. Now I understand there is no sliding scale of dispicable behaviour where some is ok and some is not.

  6. E

    This absolutely nails it personally. Its time for people to realise that just because you don’t do something, or would never ever hurt someone like that does not mean that you are not part of it by allowing your friend to be handsy when he is drunk. It’s not about saying “I’m not like that”, I feel that it is about asking, how have I been like that, have I? Am I? Is my silence allowing it, or enabling it. You make think you are a good person and would never allow someone be hurt by another person. But we all do it, we are all involved in it.

    1. Fed this now

      Nope. We are not all involved in it.
      Generalisations abound in this at times hysterical witch hunt.

      When an Islamic terror attack happens, the hashtag is #notallmuslims. After the Weinstein abuse, its #allmen

      The sheer certainty of the feminists that ALL MEN are part of the problem! The rampant generalisations are actually quite sad. There’s a lot of damaged people out there.

      1. Listrade

        You know there was an actual witch hunt where women were killed? I’m not sure seeking out serial sexual abusers or abuse of any kind equates to that.

        You also miss the point of why not all men became a thing. None of the stories say all men do it, they just explain how common it is. Stuff we don’t notice or do notice and accept or ignore.

        The not all men came about because women couldn’t discuss their experience without a man jumping into the conversation to exclaim “not all men”. No one was saying it was. Maybe we need to though.

        However many are saying all Muslims are responsible, many are saying it is an inherently dangerous religion.

        The main hypocrisy is those who ask after a terrorist attack where are the moderate Muslims condemning the attack, but when it comes to recorded sexual assault chose to whine about femisist and not condemn the assaults or the common occurrence of wholly inappropriate behaviour.

        1. Fed this now

          Your last paragraph could be inverted and the exact same hypocrisy would play out. Plenty of women and men on Twitter saying all men are part of the problem. Yet wouldn’t dream of asking moderate Muslims to step up against militant Islam. Works both ways.

          Part of the problem is some feminists saying all men have a role to play but when a man questions any of the orthodox viewpoint, they are told to shut up. A conversation is a two-way street, not a series of diktats that men must adhere to.

          1. Listrade

            Part of the problem in what exactly?

            The analogy with Muslims totally falls down on inconvenient things like the fact that moderate Muslims do condemn attacks and that the muslim community actively reports behaviour of individuals.

            It falls down on bigger issue in that this isn’t about terrorism. You’re dismissing an issue of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour by whataboutery with terrorism.

            Good for you.

      2. Nice Anne1

        Please show me one single instance of anyone using the #allmen in relation to rape. Just one.

        Who is being witch-hunted? Name one person. Weinstein admitted guilt, Clinton is wandering Dublin as a free man despite two allegations of rape and one of inapproprite sexual behaviour, Trump is in office despite making those despicable remarks on camera.

        There are rampant generalisations abound, you got that right. You are the one making them.

        1. Fed this now

          You said yourself ‘we can ALL do better’.
          What other crime is the blame spread to the entire population?

          Read the myriad tweets/Medium posts/Guardian articles of the past few days. The idea that all men are complicit in rape culture is absurd. If you really want I can post links here, but seems like a waste of time.

          1. Nigel

            The point is not all men are involved. But enough if them are. This sort of defensive whining when women come forward is part of it.

          2. Nice Anne1

            Yes, we all can do better.
            Women take precautions as a matter of 2nd nature, look after the pal who is a bit drunk, always have someone look after the drinks when out, always text each other “home” at the end of the night.
            What hasn’t happened is a confrontation where one is completely justified over this sort of toxic enablement because we have been always told to ignore it, walk away, don’t get involved.
            We have tried that and from the scale of the problem it is clear to the majority of right thinking people that we need to stop ignoring and start calling this sh1t out for what it is. Rape culture. Plain and simple.

        2. Rapscallion

          LOL LOL Is the comments section of the Guardian now a verified news source?? LOL LOL

          What do you think rape culture actually if you are so sure you have never ever contributed to it? It’s funny but the type of people who actually aware of what it is are not the ones who get defensive about never contributing to it.

          1. Fed this now

            When did I mention the Guardian comment section? Adding LOLs doesn’t make your argument any more potent.

            Your logic makes no sense. I can understand something without being a part of it.

          2. Rapscallion

            Once again – What do you think rape culture actually is if you are so sure you have never ever contributed to it?

            There hasn’t been 1 Groiniad article in the last few days that associated all men with rape. Presumed you meant the comment section as that is where that sort of poisonous twaddle usually lives. I

      3. pedeyw

        Wowsa. Missing the point entirely. Less defensiveness, more self reflection. It’s kind of the point of #metoo.

        1. Fed this now

          You are entitled to your opinion on how I should react. From what I can see the point of #metoo is a lot of men doing things in public they should be doing in private with whoever they did wrong by. But of course, you don’t get any retweets for that.

          1. Nice Anne1

            Each #MeToo tag represents someone who was:
            raped or
            assaulted or
            harassed or
            intimidated or
            How is this something a lot of men doing things in public they should be doing in private Please explain.

      4. Nameandbadgenumber

        Do you understand that contributing to it is not just James Corden making that joke that trivialised the victims? It was also everyone that screamed “free speech” afterwards.

        Do you understand that a bit of (not)harmless perving by your mates or the objectification of women is contributing to rape culture? Do you understand that silently observing this and not calling them out on it is contributing to rape culture?

  7. Eamonn Clancy

    #metoo is just this month’s hashtag, like all the others it will lose its relevance in a week or two until someone else will come up with something new. Women don’t own unwanted sexual advances, they spout them too, they grab mens arses and crotches in bars and nightclubs too. Drunk gay men do it to straight men too in bars. The only difference is that the gay men end up with black eyes while the women get on their knees in cubicles while we unbuckle our belts…

    1. Dubhlinn1

      I put your poo into google translate and it came out as: “WAHHHHH PAy attention to MEEEEEEE”

  8. rotide

    Another really good piece, however I’m slightly confused by Liggy and Anne’s (and I assume other women feel this way )reactions to this

    If I’m reading it correctly the entire point of your piece is about looking at one’s own past actions and behaviour and seeing how, while not at the level of the Weinsteins of the world, the inapropriate ones enable and perpetuate a certain culture right?

    To do this, you have to be honest with yourself and admit where you went wrong. My confusion is that Anne and Liggy seem to think that the introspection and acceptance of something is a plea for forgiveness? and that accepting something is wrong is somehow a bad thing?

    Maybe I’m misreading. I might need it explained to me. I’d genuinely like to hear about it though.

    1. Liggy

      Hi rotide,

      I can’t answer for the other ladies commenting here but reading this piece it names all sorts of regretful behaviour that belongs in the past that we (men and women) have moved on from.

      It also names some regretful current enabling behaviour that perpetrates the monster myth and rape culture with a call for a change to this sort of trivilisation of sexual attacks as the #MeToo tag has brought home to men how insidious and widespread this behaviour is.

      The author then used a badly phrased statement to indicate that he was not one of the monsters but may have let some of the trivialisation or creepy behaviour pass unchallanged. This, he resolved to change in future. The natural assumption when someone changes their behaviour for the better is that they regret their previous actions (or lack of).

      1. rotide

        I’m not sure how the statement was badly phrased though? It nailed exactly how some behaviour, although seeming trivial to some actually is inapropriate.

        Is regretting these actions not a good thing?

        1. Nice Anne1

          It was badly phrased because he came across as saying “I was never a rapist but I was a groper” when what he meant to say was “I was never a rapist but I have been guilty of letting the trivialisation of abusive behaviour pass”

          The problem here are the people who think off-setting the behaviour of the rapist monster against the trivial normalisation of rape or casual objectification is ok as Listard says in the piece. It’s not ok as it is a part of rape culture.

          1. Pat Kenny's wife

            No it didn’t but you chose to interpret it as such
            What happened here rotide is that you discovered that just like you do there are other people on the internet just waiting for the chance to pick a fight with others over the slightest little error or perception of nonsense- maybe this realisation might help you also to become more considerate before jumping down people’s throats?

          2. Pat Kenny's wife

            He didn’t come across like you said at all. You were just projecting it. An infant of four would have correctly guessed what he was saying

          3. Nice Anne1

            Ben Affleck has been accused of groping women. Listrade said My problem is I know I’m not Harvey Weinstein, but I might be Ben Affleck Where is the projection?

            Also once again Who do you think is fighting?

          4. rotide

            That’s actually a fair comment PKW. The piece itself caused me to bite my tongue a bit in relation to some of the language used here.

        2. casey_online

          It was badly phrased because it was presenting rape and parts of rape culture on a sliding scale of badness with each another. The same sort of behaviour the Listarde then went on to condemn in the latter part of the article.

          1. Rapscallion

            Point in the article is that men should not pat themselves on the back for not being rapey monsters whilst indulging in lesser abuses or let those around them do the same because it contributes to a rape culture.

            As a man – I should not think that I can cat call someone on the street and follow them just because ‘only the monsters do the rape and shure what’s a bit of harmless flirting’. I should not let any other man away with this behaviour either.

          2. Pat Kenny's wife

            I perfectly understood what he meant and he was in no way doing what you’re suggesting at all. Instead of praising the guy for writing an apt and timely article most of you seem intent on finding tiny little apparent misstatements – that only you deem important – truly pathetic. As for the idiot below bringing in some paedo apologist nonsense, his favourite brand of insult, why does broadsheet even allow these malcontents?

    2. Nice Anne1

      This was because the writer used a bad choice of words and appeared to say he had done a Ben Affleck and felt-up unwilling women. Admitting it publicly was either boasting or asking for contricion, In line with the rest of the piece, it more likely the latter.

      1. rotide

        I don’t think he was admitting to groping women in public places, I read it as an example of how everyone is guilty of something on the sliding scale of ‘Bad Things’.

        Even if it was exactly how you percieved it, surely saying ‘i did this, it was wrong’ is better than saying nothing at all?

        1. Nice Anne1

          Just read the comments above with Listrad, it’s sorted. He did not mean the phrase the way it came across and we had a nice civil chat about it.

        2. Yep

          + 1

          Listrade doesn’t say he is Ben Affleck but that he might be. I think this sentence promotes some healthy introspection rather than being an admission of guilt.

          Great read again.

  9. The Ghost of Starina

    “If you don’t see yourself in at least one of the stories, then you’re a better man than I was and I salute you.”

    Yes…or alternately, the reader doesn’t see the problems in their own behaviour.

  10. Frilly Keane

    Well lets be honest
    its wasn’t decades ago a married (former) Ireland Rubbie head was pictured in Coppers with his hand inside a girls top
    I didn’t hear anyone cribbing about it

    I remember plenty of threads with lads coming up with ideas as excuses for him to tell his missus

    Christ I can’t push Fluffy up on the couch without him getting iffy

    Chickens coming home to roost lads
    and ye don’t like it

  11. jusayinlike

    Tripe from someone who cites pedophile apologist Elizabeth Loftus as a source of inspiration..

      1. jusayinlike

        I disagree with the authors penchant for deviant apologists and as such his bland social commentary about victim blaming and v/s..

        derivative rubbish from someone who cites Elizabeth Loftus and co as their inspiration..

        1. Listrade

          Good for you. I mentioned EL in a comment on another article. Hardly stating her as an inspiration given I also mention the consequences of her work. So that’s a lot stuff you’ve read into a reference to her.

          100% right on the derivative rubbish though. But I’d have had more respect if you’d have said derivative nonce-sense.

          1. jusayinlike

            So you used the fmf to bolster your pigeon legged argument about people’s memories, an institution that’s set up as a front to pore scorn on survivor’s, an institution that has convicted pedophiles on its board, you then draft a piece commenting on victims of all sorts and v/s.

            Your some contrarion..

            I stand by what I said derivative pretentious rubbish..

  12. Nameandbadgenumber

    Do you understand that contributing to it is not just James Corden making that joke that trivialised the victims? It was also everyone that screamed “free speech” afterwards.

    Do you understand that a bit of (not)harmless perving by your mates or the objectification of women is contributing to rape culture? Do you understand that silently observing this and not calling them out on it is contributing to rape culture?

    1. Zakalec

      No, because “rape culture” is a feminist myth, based on false premises and easily debunked “research”.

      BTW, is black humour about murder / killing contributing to “murder culture”? We can joke about anything we want, (yes – even including harassment or rape), provided we do it in a right time and place.

      1. Nice Anne1

        Please share the false premises and easily debunked research you speak of. Proper peer reviewed publications now, no breitbart links.

        1. Zakalec

          I have neither time nor willingness to engage in a discussion about it here.

          What I meant is, for instance, the “1 per 5 US college women raped” statistics, which classified any regretted sex as rape.

          Here is a quite good article about it:

          BTW, peer reviewed papers can also be BS:

          1. Dubhlinn1

            Bah ha ha ha. Using open access journals which publish any old guff to discredit peer reviewed publications. Hilarious and thanks for the laugh.

  13. Clampers Outside!

    Should wolf whistling be a criminal offence?
    ie, say, a builder whistling from a scaffold.

    I don’t think it should.

    Some countries are about to do this.
    Some would say, I am complicit in rape culture for objecting to wolf whistling being criminalised.

    Is that a mainstream view?

    Is it going too far? I believe it is, to criminalise it.

    Hello, France. UK to follow….?

    1. Nigel

      I’m not necessarily in favour of criminalising it but let’s see if we can discuss it and keep it civil. Harassment is a criminal offence as are certain forms of non-violent public behaviour that might involve threats or verbal abuse. Is it such a leap to include wolf whistling in those? If enough women complain about this behaviour and there seems like no other solution why shouldn’t they have the protection of law?

Comments are closed.