et tu, morgan?

Morgan Freeman, too, really?  Are there any men in Hollywood over the age of 35 who aren’t misogynists and/or harrassers?

What I find fascinating in all this is how all these men, or at least the ones you hear about in the news, have a pattern.  Consider this from WaPo:

In the report, published by CNN, several women — including production assistants, office workers and journalists — said that Mr. Freeman had engaged in inappropriate behavior, ranging from unwanted touching to suggestive comments that made them feel uncomfortable.

The thing is, unwanted touching and suggestive comments are bad, but if a man were to make on inappropriate suggestive comment in his career, is that forgivable?  I would say almost certainly yes.  People are allowed a mistake.  But in terms of the men you hear about, it’s never an isolated incident.  It just goes on and on and typically impacts MANY women they work with.  It’s like they’re either unable or unwilling to control themselves.  I’m sure they justify it in their heads, somehow.

Of course, unpleasant as it must have been for the women impacted by Freeman’s actions, it sounds like what he’s done is very mild in comparison to men who routinely engaged in sexual assault.  But the pattern is the same.  Some men feel entitled to behave in a certain way towards women, and oblivious to societal standards and rules, they just happily continue.  Freeman is 80, so it’s possible he grew up in a time when society not only permitted him to behave in this way, but also didn’t even consider it wrong.  But messed up as our society may be, sexual assault and rape have never been considered “OK” by the vast majority of men and women, so I’m not sure how to explain the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.

Freeman said:

“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me,” he said. “As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended.”

The thing is that I kind of believe him.  There are men who do try to make women feel at ease by flirting with them.  I think there are men who flirt with women they’re not attracted to in order make those women feel good and accepted.  I can see how a film set would be different from an office environment and lead to more of that type of behavior.  However, men need to understand that this type of thing is just not acceptable at work.  There is almost no reason to ever touch your co-worker except a handshake.  (People hug at work after launches, so there are exceptions.)  There is no reason to ever call your co-worker a pet name.  It’s possible to be friends with women without flirting with them.  It really is.

My only negative experience of THIS nature at work was with a particular co-worker who called me “hon.”  I asked him, in writing, to stop, and he persisted on rare occasion.  I actually doubt it was intentional.  I suspect he called ALL women, or all younger women, hon, and found it hard to remember to specifically avoid that with me.  The guy in question held a lot of power in the company, and so while I could have escalated it to one or two of the people with more power still, it seemed absurd to pursue something so trivial.

I’m glad to see Harvey get his comeuppance, and I’m glad to see that Freeman’s milder but still inappropriate behavior is being called out as unacceptable.  (But is that because, at 80, his marketability and financial value to the industry has declined to the point that he’s no longer protected?)