Posters have started popping up around Los Angeles bearing the visage of Meryl Streep with “She knew” blocking out her eyes — an in-her-face rebuttal of the actress’ assertion that she hadn’t known about harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
Streep’s vocal criticism of President Trump makes her a frequent target of the right, and conservative commentators are tweeting out pictures of the posters en masse.
[Thursday, Sabo, right-wing artist, claimed responsibility for the poster campaign.]
Streep also landed in the crosshairs of Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, who tweeted last week, “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @goldenglobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem.”
Streep has released a statement denying any knowledge of Weinstein’s abuse. “I wasn’t deliberately silent,” she wrote. “I didn’t know.”
“HW needed us not to know this, because our association with him bought him credibility, an ability to lure young, aspiring women into circumstances where they would be hurt,” Streep’s statement read. “He needed me much more than I needed him and he made sure I didn’t know.”
But Los Angeles is being peppered with doubt — in an approach I loathe.
Allow me to quantify my objections.
1. #BelieveWomen — a hallmark of the #MeToo movement — falls apart when you choose which women and which words you believe based on how they fit your agenda.
2. We’re not holding men who worked with Weinstein to the same standard.
3. Women aren’t responsible for men’s bad behavior. (See: Clinton, Hillary; Abedin, Huma; Edwards, Elizabeth.) We’re not the sex police.
That third objection is the one I want to talk about a little more.
Certainly if a woman — if anyone — has knowledge of sexual harassment or assault, that person has a moral obligation to call it out and do everything possible to make it stop. Hopefully, each of us understands that better in this post-Weinstein era.
But for the hard, painful work of the #MeToo movement to pay off, we need more than that. We need, as a culture, to move toward a better definition of masculinity. One that doesn’t teach men to dominate women like some sort of opposing team on the football field.
Continuing to frame women as the opposing team doesn’t get us there.
Hear me out.
“A lot of what we as young men learn as seduction is really more like preparatory sexual-assault training,” sociologist Harry Brod told New York Times gender editor Jessica Bennett.
“If you’re a man,” Bennett wrote in Sunday’s New York Times, “that ‘No’ often means ‘just try harder’ — because, you know, persuasion is part of the game.”
Good, pure women don’t have much use for sex, other than procreating, we’ve told generation after generation of women. Men are always after it, we’re taught, and women are in charge of shutting it down.
This sets up an incredibly dangerous and unbalanced setup, in which some men think wearing down and cajoling a woman into sex is a “win.” (A real win, of course, would be mutual, fantastic sex with someone who wants to be having it as much as you do.)
This is not the whole of the problem that creates the Weinsteins of the world. It’s not even the half of it.
But it’s part of it. And it’s a part that I fear we get further away from even broaching, let alone solving, when we blame women for not doing more to police men and their sexual urges.
Ideally, this movement inspires all sorts of conversations about sex and power and consent.
Ideally, we really do start to #BelieveWomen. When they say No. When they say Yes. When they say they are in charge of their own bodies.
And when they say they’re not in charge of anyone else’s.
The Chicago Tribune