I wish I could say I was surprised that an alleged sexual harasser would find it appropriate to joke about sexual harassment. But I don't. I also wish I could say I'm shocked that Ben Affleck's stance against Weinstein and apology for his own act of sexual harassment now appear to be disingenuous.
Ben Affleck, and powerful men like him, are accustomed to a certain amount of formulaic lenience: you get your hand caught in the cookie jar of sexual harassment, you apologize, everyone forgives you, and there are no further consequences. Now it's just a quirky incident to laugh and joke about. Why would they feel safe to do this? Well, take a look at how things usually work out for these guys. Johnny Depp was accused of domestic abuse, and... and what? Nothing. Nothing has happened to him. Woody Allen was accused of sexual abuse and... dot dot dot? Again, nothing. Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to harassing women, and was governor of California. Everyone still loves him.
So of course Ben Affleck is joking about sexual harassment. He's done his brief penitence and now expects to be welcomed back into the fold. To him, it's just one of those silly incidents that he gets to laugh off. He thinks he's protected by a culture of abuse amnesia, where we are encouraged to quickly forget our anger. I'm just hoping he's wrong this time.
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