The Men’s Club

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Do you ever wake up on a morning and think to yourself, Am I the only person on this planet who isn’t a sexual predator?

All right, wait a minute, I know, that’s the wrong question, isn’t it?

Let me ask it again.

Hey, fellas, do you ever wake up on a morning and think to yourself, Am I the only man on this planet who isn’t a sexual predator?

Because that’s what I’m doing this morning.

When I first read the story about Kevin Spacey and the allegations of his sexual assault on Anthony Rapp, I have to admit my first thoughts were, That sounds more like a clumsy, drunken, desperate attempt at sex than an actual assault.

And then the next day when I saw the news story about Michael Fallon having to resign because he put his hand on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee fifteen years ago, an incident which she says he has already apologised for and upset and distressed nobody, I thought to myself, This is some kind of crazy world we are now living in where a knee touching incident becomes a political scandal and causes a man to lose his job.

But I kept silent.

Because the internet is a scary place for people who voice an opinion.

I did discuss it with my wife, and she was in agreement with me. In fact, she reiterated what Julia Hartley-Brewer said and that calling the Michael Fallon incident an assault devalues the real assaults that some women have been through.

But then I woke up this morning and read the new allegations against Spacey, and new stories about Dustin Hoffman and Brett Ratner, and yes, I thought to myself, Am I the only man on this planet who isn’t a sexual predator?

Because that’s kind of how it feels at the moment.

I’m a firm believer that we, us humans, are slowly becoming better at being people. That we are becoming more enlightened, kinder, more tolerant. And despite the media’s persistence in bombarding us with a relentless tsunami of negativity, there is evidence to back that belief up.

But then I come across news like this and my faith in humanity dips a little.

Because that list of sexual predators just seems to grow and grow.

And then I looked back at the story about Spacey, in light of those new allegations, and I realised that Rapp was only fourteen years old at the time.

Fourteen.

I have a son who is fourteen.

My next thought was, Where the hell were his parents and why did they allow him to go to an adult party unaccompanied at that age? Rapp addresses that issue here.

Many of these (although not all) are historical incidents. And some people (but not all) learn and change and mature as time passes.

What was once deemed acceptable by society at large (and yes, I agree, a society and culture that has largely been created by and led by a male culture) is now no longer acceptable. And for good reason too.

But where does that leave us now? What do we do with the knowledge that so often in these abuse cases other people in power knew about what was happening, knew that there were sexual predators in their midst, and yet chose to keep silent?

(An almost institutional silence existed for decades at the BBC in the cases of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, and Quentin Tarantino, whose entire film catalogue has been bankrolled by Harvey Weinstein, has ‘apologised’ for saying nothing about what he knew.)

And what can I do, the person who woke up this morning asking himself if he was the only man on this planet who isn’t a sexual predator?

Well, part of the answer lies in the question, doesn’t it?

Men, and in particular white men, are the leading players in this horror story. The powerful, the significant.

We need a new worldview in which diversity is at the heart of everything we do. Diversity of gender, culture, race, sexual orientation.

And we need it soon.

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