You know Hollywood’s caught pants down. With more and more actresses joining the #MeToo brigade and stars like James Franco and Michael Douglas busy issuing denials, off-screen beats onscreen. There are the movie moghuls, the pervs, the lechers; and there are the women who did not nod, did not put out, and therefore aced no audition. In this us vs. them situation, there are dirty old dragons and damsels in distress, not to mention sour grapes and settling of scores and power play and naked ambition.
This is the sisterhood of the travelling skirts. Of black gowns too, with thigh-high slits and earth-bound necklines; the movement has its own uniform now. There is a mob-like hand-holding; first Meryl Streep was asked to speak up, especially about Dustin Hoffman’s handsy hands, and then Meryl Streep asked Ivanka Trump to speak up, who was booed off social media when she tried to applaud Oprah Winfrey’s Time’s Up speech at the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills.
A subtle class system has begun to emerge among the me-tooers; dissent within the dissenters.
French actress Catherine Deneuve distances herself by co-signing a letter in the daily Le Monde, which says, ‘Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone’s knee or try to steal a kiss.’ They fear a threat to sexual freedom, they fear the end of flirting, of seduction. Eyes may meet across crowded rooms but will blink and look away at a flower vase or something. They are decrying the odd accidental touch of the elbow at a bar or foot under a table. Will all this me-tooing imperil man-woman contact in the short term and mean rampant artificial insemination in the long term?
There are two main types of me-too. One is the harassed party, women who feared for their lives, who never saw it coming and suddenly found themselves in bedrooms and locked offices. Then those who escaped in the nick of time, who read the cue. They ran out and pretended it never happened. What they do know is they lost out on meaty roles but their dignity was their own. They could have been whistle-blowers if they wanted but they were just happy to get out alive.
Rape really is the big leveller. All women are equal before a predator. White, brown, yellow, black, high-born, low-born, old, young, corpse, baby—the rapist doesn’t care. And this grime has always been right beneath the glam; every sequin covers something sordid. Marilyn Monroe was asked by studio heads to ‘entertain’ powerful men, starlet Susan Cabot was directed into Jordanian King Hussein’s bed...
Brave are those who recount what did happen as also what almost happened to them. But braver is the one who squeals when she is not a victim—not yet, possibly never. Who can easily look away because it is not happening to her, has never happened to her, dismissing it as corporate trade-offs or battles of other people. But if she can open her mouth as witness, as alibi, as preventer, then she’s the third sort of me-too—the rarest.