Anna Sheffer
July 12, 2018 11:38 am

The cultural conversation surrounding consent has changed for the better in recent months — and we have the #MeToo movement to thank. But there’s still work to be done when it comes to the way we talk about power dynamics, and some common misunderstandings about the movement prove it. Justice League’s Henry Cavill is the latest person to come under fire for insensitive comments about #MeToo — and while he has since apologized, it’s important to take note.

In an interview with GQ Australia published on July 10th, Cavill discussed his career and what he has learned from the #MeToo movement so far.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to not be around the kind of people who behave that way,” he told the magazine. “To my memory there’s been no moments where I look back and think, ‘Ooh, okay, maybe someone shouldn’t have gone through that.’ I know there have been situations with people I’ve worked with being perhaps overfamiliar with some of the actresses. But, I’ve always walked up to them and said, ‘Hey, are you all right? That’s creepy.'”

The interviewer then asked him about his own behavior, to which Cavill responded, "I like to think that I've never been like that."

Cavill acknowledged that men’s behavior needs to change, but added that we should “retain the good things” about the past. The Mission Impossible actor expressed a wistfulness for “a man chasing a woman,” noting that he feels a “woman should be wooed and chased.” He then suggested that the new social climate created by #MeToo has complicated romance.

"It’s very difficult to do that [create romance] if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something. So you’re like, 'Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked.' But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?"

Thankfully, Twitter users are not buying Cavill’s reductive analysis.

However, some suggested that Cavill’s comments were unfortunate, but not malignant.

Cavill later apologized for “any confusion and misunderstanding” caused by his comments in a statement to HuffPost:

"Insensitivity was absolutely not my intention. In light of this I would just like to clarify and confirm to all that I have always and will continue to hold women in the highest of regard, no matter the type of relationship whether it be friendship, professional, or a significant other," the statement read in part.

“I look forward to clarifying my position in the future towards a subject that it so vitally important and in which I wholeheartedly support,” he concluded.

Cavill’s comments may not have been intentionally harmful, but that doesn’t make them okay. There’s a huge difference between consensual flirtation and sexual harassment or assault, and it’s both insulting and dangerous to perpetuate the notion that women (and all victims) can’t tell the difference. The cultural dialogue surrounding harassment and abuse of power is as important as ever, and we hope Cavill’s misconceptions and regressive thinking soon become a relic of the past.

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