The fireball and the sleaze
Posted by Simon Parke, 06 November 2017, 7.09am
We start with the chasm opening before us.
The unwanted male hand on the knee; the grabbing kiss; the sleazy hand on the bottom.
And on the other side, the offer of a seat on the tube and the reply, ‘You misogynist bastard.’
There’s the debilitating fear of reporting the groping sex pest for fear it will affect your career.
And on the other side, the door opened for the woman and being told to stop being patronising.
So how will we cross this chasm? And how will we now relate?
The Weinstein fireball is purging seedy male attitudes in all sorts of organisations.
Squalid abuses, and cultures which allow them, are exposed as furtive walls of secrecy buckle in the heat.
#metoo is letting out a deep scream of rage.
This is not just about last week or last year…it’s about the last few thousand years.
For no, it isn’t about a recent change in perceptions…it was never acceptable.
And neither is it about one touch on the knee.
As Jo Brand pointed out to some Neanderthal panellists on HIGNFY – the smirking ‘I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about!’ kind – it’s about one thing after another; it’s about the repetitive, the daily, the routine trickle of power misused.
Because this isn’t a sex scandal, of course.
It’s a power scandal.
Most men are best without power.
I think of the consultant swanning around the hospital being an arrogant arse.
He has forgotten that he is human and others are equally so; that others exist quite as much as he does.
He may not be a sex pest; but he is the tip of a nauseous iceberg of misused power, which includes the sexual predator.
Power not only goes to a man’s head; it can also go to his dick.
It goes without saying that women can also misuse power appallingly; no one needs to remind me.
But that isn’t the subject of this piece.
The concern of this piece is male inadequacy, female rage, and how we’ll relate when the war is over.
Call me old fashioned, but I’d like to carry on opening the door for people, male and female.
And I’d like to feel free to offer my seat on the tube to all genders.
It’s something about civility, about being human; kindness in a harsh world, which I both receive and give.
And as a warning, I think of the effect of child abuse on normal human relationships between the generations.
It’s a deep sadness to me that men can no longer speak with children, without suspicious eyes looking on.
I’m told to be wary of smiling at them, which is my first thought; to look away.
It is a loss for both generations, this fearful denial of generous exchange.
We know the reasons, ‘stranger danger’ and all that: the demonization of all because of the actions of a few.
It’s stupid. It’s clunky. It’s life-denying.
Bu it’s what terror does.
And I hope the same won’t occur now.
I have worked in offices where wonderfully funny women have led the flirting and the innuendo.
Interestingly, it was often used to dismantle my ‘power’ as team leader.
And it was all very healthy.
But then everything is about context… and the power relationship.
So here’s to #metoo…but not to #usandthem.
We’ll speak out about groping, grasping, soul-destroying sleaze.
We’ll expose it, name it, report it.
As we keep our eyes on the issue of power.
For that is the true crime here.
And let the tenderness, generosity, civility and playfulness of equality rise from the fireball’s ashes.