Monster Hits and Monster Directors

There’s a big debate going on at the moment about whether we should support the work of artists who turn out to be monsters.  Where do you draw the line?  I would never knowingly go and see a film made by a Nazi or white supremacist, on the principle that I want nothing to do with such people.  But what about Woody Allen?  I used to love his work but now I don’t know if I ever want to see a film of his again.

There’s a similar question around Harvey Weinstein.  He’s done some terrific work but can I still watch it, now that I know what he’s like alone in a hotel room?  And what about Roman Polanski?  Can we – should we – divorce the person from the work?

I still can’t make up my mind about this.  It seems to me that there ought to be some sort of coherence here; that if a man is a monster it will come through somehow in his work.  But although Woody Allen’s later films are a pile of self-indulgent mush, his earlier work still dazzles.  I still love Annie Hall; and he was a monster when he made it.  So what to do?

It seems clear that there are men against whom the welter of evidence is conclusive.  I firmly believe that Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein are guilty of the acts of which they are accused (if not all, then most.)  But there are other cases where the accused ought, as in any other case, to be given the benefit of the doubt while investigations take place – and they’re not.  I have no idea whether Kevin Spacey was guilty as claimed, but he’s been made a pariah all the same, along with many others.  Did he deserve this?

I don’t know.

The problem with the #metoo campaign is the problem with public discourse in general.  On one side we have the accusers, supported by feminists and others; in the opposite corner we have the accused, supported by their friends and those who think sexual harassment is either a joke or something women are making way too much fuss about.  This is not simply a case of men vs women: many men have supported the victims and some women have spoken against, notably Catherine Deneuve.

As the Guardian article above points out, Deneuve and others make some reasonable points but have been accused of ‘supporting rape culture’, such is the gladiatorial nature of public discourse.

But there’s another problem with these offences.  It’s not like dealing with murder or GBH.  It’s not even like dealing with a straightforward theft (and good luck getting the police to take any notice of that nowadays).  These offences take place in private, in a situation where it is often impossible to prove or disprove consent.  Rape is of course an offence and can be reported; but what do you do, say, when a man like Michael Fallon (a government minister at the time) keeps putting his hand on your knee despite repeated requests to stop?  What do you do when a man leans in a little too close and looks down the front of your dress, or touches you on the back and lets his hand wander down to your arse or (as Jimmy Savile repeatedly did) sticks his tongue down your mouth?  You’d have better luck reporting the theft of a stapler than going to the police with that.  So what do you do?  The newsreader pestered by Michael Fallon threatened to punch him, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with that.

We need to stick up for ourselves and for each other – but more than that, we need to change the environment to make this kind of harassment completely unacceptable.  So, does that involve not going to see Annie Hall any more?

I don’t know.  Here’s an article that might shed some light on the question:

Kirk out

Sexual Harassment? Nein Danke

I’d like to apologise to gay men for today’s post as I realise the scenario I am about to unfold is highly unlikely, but it’s the best I can do.  So here’s the thing: a while ago after Donald T***p had come out as a predatory crocodile with his talk about grabbing women by the p***y and after women the world over had called him out on normalising sexual assault, a man I happened to be talking to (a friend of a friend) began to opine that being grabbed by the genitals was a fairly minor affair.  Before the argument could get out of hand, he’d been shushed by our mutual friend and we got on with having dinner.  But later, I began to think about how one can explain how it feels to such a bloke.  How do you get this across?  Because saying, ‘imagine if a woman were to grab you by the d**k’ just doesn’t cut it.  That situation is not the same because the power relationships are not the same – and that’s exactly the point.  To grab a man by the genitals might be construed as a come-on; to grab a woman by the genitals, quite apart from being painful, is not only an assault but an assertion of power; even of possession.

So, the best I can do to convey what the Donald Trump ‘genital grab’ might be like for men, is as follows:

Imagine you work in an office where the Big Boss is gay.  He’s aggressively, flamboyantly gay and if he fancies you, you’d better watch out.  Don’t get in the lift with him, don’t bend over anywhere near him and don’t do anything that might be misconstrued as encouragement.  At all costs, avoid being in the same room with him.

Now, imagine that despite your precautions – wearing high-necked shirts and loose-fitting suits and never, ever making eye contact – the Big Guy takes a fancy to you.  He is so arrogant that he thinks because he fancies you he has a right to do something about it; so he calls you into his office so he and his colleagues can have a good look; he gets you to run errands and whenever you pass in the corridor he makes personal comments like ‘my, you’re a big boy aren’t you?’  Every day he swings by your workstation and hangs over your chair to look at your computer screen, all the while making suggestive comments.

Of course your instinct is to get the guy in a dark alleyway somewhere and deck him.  But that would be unwise; because first of all this guy is powerful.  He works out and could probably deck you first; and then you’d be out of a job.  But even if he doesn’t, he never goes anywhere without a couple of henchmen, so you’d be mad to try.  You could always change jobs of course, but chances are in every workplace your boss is going to be a horny aggressive gay guy.

So that gives you some idea of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of workplace harassment.  And once again I apologise for the analogy – but it’s the best I can do.

Kirk out

PS in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #metoo campaign someone has come up with a much better idea.  Men: don’t do anything to a woman which you wouldn’t be comfortable with another man doing to you – in prison.

That does it for me.


I blogged a few weeks ago about the advanced technological state of our new GP’s; although the receptionist is perfectly friendly the entire system is geared up to avoid any human interaction at all until you actually see the doctor: from having to ‘arrive yourself’ through touching a screen to the remote ordering of prescriptions (well, with a request slip, anyway) I would not have been surprised to be confronted by a Medibot on penetrating the interior instead of a human being.

So this morning I went along to see if my prescription was ready and it wasn’t: apparently they can’t sign them remotely but have to come in and do it in person.  Who knew?  Anyway in spite of this technological weirdness it seems to be a good GP practice, so I’m going to stick with it.  It’s even closer than our old surgery was, and that’s saying something since that was virtually just across the road.  But this is literally just across the road…

So: back to the iplayer and what I’ve been watching this week.  Now that they’ve taken Father Brown off I’m lacking an anchor for my viewing schedule, but this has now been filled by a copper: to whit, WPC 56:

It’s set in 1956 and features a WPC; so to that extent it does what it says on the tin.  The series treads the line between good period drama and caricature; there’s a black-and-white fogginess to the OB shots: dark streets, sinister alleyways, split windscreens etc.  It’s a bit issue-y; recent episodes deal with arresting gays, prostitution, and sexual harassment in the workplace, but it’s entertaining nonetheless, and punctuated by cries from me of ‘I remember that!’ and ‘We used to have a car just like that one!’ to which the children roll their eyes.

Holly is in Lancaster as we speak, having got up at the crack of doom to get a coach up there to an open day.  I really hope she gets something out of it; the plans went awry when her promised lift backed out, leaving her to get the only affordable National Express leaving Leicester at 3 am.  She’s doing the same coming back, though her boyfriend is going with her so I’m not worried.  Good job it’s in half-term week…

Must go now as I have to pop across to the doc’s and see if my prescription has been arrived yet…

Kirk out

Carry on Like That and your B***s will be Decorating the Christmas Tree

That’s what I’d be tempted to say to any bloke who abused his position and tried to harass me sexually: in my view it’s the only way to deal with this sort of thing.  Incidents involving politicians have been crawling out of the woodwork lately, from Lord Thingy (I can’t be bothered remembering his name but you know who I mean) to Dark Hints being dropped about men on all sides of the house.  WHY should the place supposedly in the forefront of our national life, be so backward?  It should not be up to women to think about the best way to deal with this stuff: they ought not be having to deal with it at all.  Other organisations have procedures in place and named individuals to go to if it happens.  The Commons should be setting an example in all these things, not being some kind of sluggish, antediluvian back-water where change is resisted to the hilt!

But we all know that’s how it is.  The only way, as an individual, to deal with sexual harassment is to stamp on it: tell the guy, quite bluntly and if necessary graphically, exactly what future you have in mind for his genital equipment if he can’t keep it in his pants.  Just getting awkward or embarrassed is not going to do the trick – because, let’s face it, that’s exactly what he wants: I’d favour saying very loudly, ‘Could you take your hand off my thigh please?’ in front of a whole table of dinner-guests, or else bending his forefinger back, all the while giving him an angelic smile – that’s quite painful (the finger not the smile).  The thing is, these inadequate and pathetic males are abusing a position of power, in which women want to get on, so by doing that you’d probably scupper your chances of getting a job.  But do you really want to work in an organisation which tolerates this sort of thing?  Because it’s not going to stop once you get the job.  The guy will still be there – or, if not him, someone else higher up.  You don’t need that in your life – be the stronger woman and tell them where to get off!

There’s a lot of this kind of crap goes on in our national life – making the victims responsible, I mean.  Like the cry that goes up, first thing after recession has set in: ‘Let’s get people back to work!’  And since nobody can create jobs out of thin air, they end up harassing the unemployed – because pretending it’s Just Up To Them is about the only option they have left.  Governments, when it comes down to it, have precious little power in a global economy – but the last thing they’re ever going to do is admit it.

Rant over.  Now on with Thursday

Kirk out