You know, this is mostly my fault. I wanted something other than Trump to write about, so the Universe (the kind that directs twenty-something white women’s lives, not the actual “all existing matter space considered as a whole aka the cosmos” universe) dropped Casey Affleck in my lap. Specifically, how Affleck finally addressed the sexual harassment accusations that have been plaguing his award season. Sort of. Here’s what he said backstage at the Oscars after being asked about the vocal opposition to his possible win. From the Boston Globe:
“I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else.”
“There’s really nothing I can do about it,” Affleck added wearily. “Other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”
First off, we should probably start assuming that the Lesser Affleck says everything wearily. That’s his thing now. Secondly, what can we glean from this statement about Affleck’s personal thoughts on the accusations? He still believes he didn’t do a goddamn thing. That part is abundantly clear because he’s never taken responsibility for anything. Sure, he’s bound by the settlement agreement to not speak publicly about the case, but he could if he wanted to make amends. That would mean paying additional damages, and possibly opening himself up to other lawsuits, but that’s why making amends sucks. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.
The better question is: why doesn’t he think he’s done anything wrong. There are two possibilities. First, he really, truly didn’t do any of the things that the lawsuits accused him of. Both women made up the accusations whole-cloth, and Affleck never behaved even slightly inappropriately on set. Which would, theoretically, be easy enough to prove. There’s the subordinate who Affleck allegedly directed to expose himself to one of the women. There are the two women Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix attempted to have sex with in the two complainants’ shared hotel room (which, by the way, is one of the most fucked up things anybody’s ever come up with). If the lawsuits were complete works of fiction, shouldn’t there be witnesses who can testify that none of this ever happened?
My guess is the third option: Affleck did commit most of the acts he’s accused of, but doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. Because it’s not like he raped anybody, right? He knows his values and the way he wants to live his life. He’s not a rapist, and people don’t understand that he’s just a nice guy with an offbeat sense of humor. Which is the fucking worst.
And, no, I don’t mean that Affleck’s opinion is literally worse than rape. I mean that all of this is just the fucking worst. It means that Affleck considers his need to express his sexual attraction to woman more important than their need to feel competent and respected at work. Why is sexual attraction such an offensive thing for women? Why can’t we just loosen up and accept that humans are sexual beings? I don’t know, ask Piers Morgan about that. Women’s sexuality is demeaned, disrespected, and treated as though it makes us incompetent. Then we enter a workplace where part of the “joking” environment is that people tell us how fuckable we are. And in this place where we want to feel smart, confident and capable, we’re reminded that people want to do things to us that make them view us as less than. So, Casey, I’m super glad that you’ve figured out that people deserve to be treated with respect in the work place. And I’m even more looking forward to you finally figuring out what “respected” looks like.