Another day, another terrible misunderstanding of what women want (even though all we’ve been doing since forever is telling people exactly that). The most recent bad take is from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, who, according to Deadline, said in an interview that #MeToo is fueled by a “hatred of men.” Hey, we’ve read a lot of bad takes lately, but this is hands down the dumbest and most infuriating. Women coming forward, sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, and empowering others to do the same is not about hating men. It’s about being totally fed up with how women are forced to live every single day of their lives. This seems obvious to us, but it is apparently very confusing for some people.
Haneke explained, “This new puritanism colored by a hatred of men, arriving on the heels of the #MeToo movement, worries me. As artists, we’re starting to be fearful since we’re faced with this crusade against any form of eroticism.” He added:
He cited the 1976 drama In the Realm of the Senses, which was controversial in its day because it contained scenes of unsimulated sex. Haneke worries that film wouldn’t get made today because studios and “funding institutions” would be “anticipating obedience to this terror.”
“Suspected actors are cut out of movies and TV series in order not to lose [audiences]. Where are we living? In the new Middle Ages?” Haneke said. Excuse us while we scream into our pillow.
This kind of thinking conflates sexual harassment and assault with flirting and sex, and it’s really creepy that smart people can’t see the difference. And no, men who have been accused of crimes or bad behavior don’t get to keep starring in films and gracing magazine covers or talking about their ideas on TV. That’s not because women “hate” them, it’s because private media organizations are allowed to decide who they want to represent their brand to the world, and our society is finally demanding that these people not be accused sexual predators.
Really, what we hate is that almost everything about our existence is defined by the male gaze and the male experience. And when we ask for a little balance, we get attacked for being bitches who want to ruin men’s lives. We are really just trying to live. Since the literal beginning of time, women have had to ask men for the most basic rights, like being able to vote, study, and access to health care. Seriously, we’re not even allowed to decide how to groom our pubic hair or wear headphones in a public space without it somehow affecting the men in our life.
That’s the kind of thing we hate.
We hate being told we’re the problem when we’re living in a world where hotel housekeepers have to wear panic buttons to keep them safe. We don’t know when any guy will change his demeanor and become violent. This is true even of men we think we can trust — family members, teachers, our next door neighbor who just seemed helpful when he offered to carry our packages up to our apartment, but actually wanted our number so he could send us an unsolicited picture of his penis.
We hate having to watch sexual predators and men who abuse their partners, both alleged and convicted, being given positions of power. And it happens over and over and over again.
Then, when we tell our human resource manager that Joe from accounting won’t stop asking us for hugs or calls us a “bitch” when we tell him we don’t want to have sex with him, it’s reframed our fault. It’s always a woman’s fault. Our clothes, our mere presence, is seen as a “distraction,” all because men can’t control what they do with their genitals and position of privilege.
The toxic masculinity that the patriarchy breeds hurts everyone of any gender. It tells men they’re animals and sets women up as their prey, when really, we’re all equally in possession of the ability to police our own actions and exercise basic restraint and consideration for other humans. When we work together, date each other, and have sex together, with the understanding that everyone’s experience matters, things are awesome. No one (or at least not all of us) hates men. We also don’t hate flirting and sex: We just ask that men pay attention to us when those things are happening, and if we in any way indicate that we’re not interested, to let it go and not punish us for it. Thanks, but no thanks. Take your L like an adult. That’s literally all we are asking.
It feels, actually, like men hate us, the more they abuse us, take advantage of us, and refuse to just listen to the words that are coming out of our mouths. All #MeToo says is that we want to feel safe when we go to work or leave our homes. If people think that means we hate their very existence, that says a lot more about their views on women than anything else.