But now, as the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night. This is the great fear for all of us. — Matt Damon, yesterday.
Last Friday, my son was out of school for a Jewish holiday, and I wanted to go to see Battle of the Sexes, and I didn’t want to leave him home alone, so I brought him with me. He’s 10, and Common Sense Media said that it was appropriate for 14-year-olds, but their reasoning — kissing and a lot of smoking — felt suspect, especially the kissing part. You need to be 14 to see people kiss? Or do you need to be 14 to see women kiss? Because to most 10-year-olds in 2017 (in New England, anyway), men kissing, women kissing, or men kissing women — it’s all the same. It’s just people kissing. I don’t think you need to be 14 to see that, and to suggest that you need to be older to see two women kissing is kind of fucked up.
Anyway, I brought him, but on the drive to the film, I wanted to warn him ahead of time that Steve Carell — whom he best knows as the voice of Gru — was a male chauvinist, and what that means, and why that’s not OK. Then we brought it around to my particular industry and I told him about some of the stuff that’s been going on with men in the film world. He’s 10, so I didn’t want to get graphic about it or anything, but I also got really serious and told him that he should never, ever, ever kiss a girl who doesn’t to be kissed, and to be respectful and kind. He said, “I know that, Dad!” like I was an idiot, and I said, “I know you know that. Of course you know that, but you need to hear it again.”
And he will probably need to hear it a lot more times in the coming years. Because you know what? I have two daughters, and you know what my worst fear is, Matt Damon? That my son grows up to be someone like Harvey Weinstein. I mean, obviously, I hope to God that my daughters never encounter someone like Harvey Weinstein, but they will. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from the last few years, and from living with a woman and working with women on a daily basis, is that they’re fucking everywhere, and no matter how kind, good looking, or harmless they seem, always be vigilant and on guard because these fuckers are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members, and randos you run into on the subway. But I hope that their mother and I can help prepare them for those situations, tell them how to navigate them, how to best avoid men like that, and then console them when all that advice goes up in flames at their first college party or their first job interview.
But we can also teach our son how not to be a person anyone ever has to navigate or avoid. Also, how to alert others when he sees men that need to be avoided. How not to put up with that shit if he has friends like that. As I always say to my son, “Don’t be a snitch, unless your friends are sexual predators, and then goddamnit, you better fucking snitch.”
I don’t want my children to be subjected to sexual predators. But I also don’t want my children to be sexual predators. But also and this is important: Neither the number of children I have, nor the gender of my children has anything to do with the fact that I find the behavior of men like Harvey Weinstein horrifying and abhorrent, and I don’t need daughters or sons to reinforce that because I am not a fucking sociopath!