Why Matt Damon's comments about "good guys" don't actually help anything at all
Can someone please go put a muzzle on Matt Damon? He seems to be having trouble realizing that no one needs to hear anything he has to say about the sexual assault allegations in Hollywood. He also seems to be having trouble realizing that he’s wrong. Like, really tragically wrong. Across the board, Matt Damon’s comments about “good guys” and “levels” of sexual assault do more harm than good. Seriously, someone needs to educate this man. Or at the very least, shut him up. In many ways, Damon is a paragon of white male privilege in the sense that he seems completely unaware that he’s making things worse for women when he makes excuses for men accused of sexual assault, calls Harvey Weinstein a “womanizer” instead of a predator, and now wants to raise awareness for men who don’t act like animals.
Question for Matthew Damon: Are you serious, sir?
Not only does he seem completely unaware that he’s doing damage, but he and the media outlets interviewing him seem to think that it’s completely appropriate for him to have an opinion about this #MeToo moment other than, “Wow, I’ve benefitted from and often perpetuated a predatory, sexist system that’s hurt women, and we all need to do better.” Because that’s the only thing anyone needs to hear from men right now.
Damon has made a bunch of very wrong, dangerously misinformed comments about sexual harassment and assault allegations in just the past few days. Most recently, he told Business Insider, while promoting his new movie Downsizing, that he wants the conversation to take a new turn.
This was after he said over the weekend that when it came to working with men in Hollywood who have been accused of sexual harassment, he would handle it on a case-by-case basis. Damon said in an interview with ABC News,
He added that he was a fan of the comedian. “I’m a fan of [his], but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything…I just think that we have to start delineating between what these behaviors are.” The interview went on with him continuing to stress the importance of labeling different kinds of sexual misconduct and not getting caught up in a culture of “outrage.”
Ugh, can he not? This guy just won’t quit.
In response to his misguided comments, former co-star Minnie Driver called Damon out on Twitter, noting that his response missed the point entirely. She told the Guardian about her Twitter response to Damon insisting that some sexual assault is “better” than others, “That’s a problem. If good men like Matt Damon are thinking like that then we’re in a lot of f*cking trouble. We need good intelligent men to say this is all bad across the board, condemn it all and start again.”
She had a lot of things to day about his comments.
And this kind of talk is all too familiar. The truth is, Damon sounds like a lot of well intentioned men in our lives who are having trouble grappling with the fact that they’ve benefited from and participated in sexist culture that has hurt women. They want to make sure that everyone knows that #NotAllMen assault women and make it known that they’re One of the Good Ones. They’re having trouble understanding that this is not about them, and somehow feel like superheroes because they sort of, kind of believe women when they come forward with their sexual assault stories.
But women don’t need male heroes, they need male allies, as Sady Doyle from Elle put it.
And if men can’t be responsible, active allies, or at least give the floor to women to talk without being corrected about whether they’re handling the “watershed moment”correctly or advising them about where to place their “outrage,” then they should just stay out of it.
No one gets extra credit or a cookie for not pulling their genitals out, forcing a woman to watch them shower during a business meeting, or groping someone “in jest.” That’s just what people should do all the time. It’s not the time for white men right now. Sorry, Matt Damon. It’s time to focus on the women who have come forward and all of the women who never got a chance to have the career they deserved or work on certain projects because of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood.
Damon shouldn’t get a round of applause for saying that he’d willingly “sign a sexual harassment thing” (which we assume is some pledge studios are handing out to cast and crew members to cut down on their liability now that women are talking). He most certainly doesn’t get to mansplain sexual assault and harassment to women.
Men like Damon seem to be really scared that women are going to accuse them of sexual harassment or assault because something they do will be misunderstood. But that’s overwhelmingly unlikely to happen! Men are going to have to start acting like human beings, calling other men out, and thinking more about their behavior on a regular basis, which is something that women do all the time. We believe they can handle it.
These men are going to have to trust us and take us seriously. And remember that women are smart and know when something is inappropriate, just like we know when something is a violent crime or just a sexist, inappropriate act. No man — and especially not Matt Damon, who has allegedly let women down before — gets to draw those lines for us. Yes, Matt, we know there are men out there who don’t assault women. That should literally be all men. Damon needs to stop talking about this. At least that much is for sure. Even better? We should stop asking Damon what he thinks as if he were the only authority on the subject, since he’s already made it very, painfully clear that he just doesn’t get it. Let’s find someone who will stand up for women without making it about them.