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.'”
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.
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:
“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.