In a new essay by Helen Dale, Penthouse dares to examine slut-shaming as the “smug flipside to the solidarity between women in the #MeToo movement”
Of the #MeToo movement, Helen Dale writes, “much of [it] seems to be so very high school: all the pretty girls from good families are congratulating each other for ‘bravely speaking out’ about the advances they refused, while the women who made a calculation and opted to get their knees dirty are wisely keeping quiet.”
It’s a fascinating essay on sex, intra-sexual competition, and modern western culture.
There’s a smugly slut-shaming flipside to the solidarity: wearing black to the Golden Globes, telling stories about who touched whose knee, applauding Oprah’s speech. . . .
I mean, if I named my first boss and then told how our frank conversation about what I liked to look at (revealing my sexual orientation) made me feel ‘demeaned’ or ‘afraid’, he would be displayed on the new pillory that is social media and utterly humiliated – or worse.
And yet: buried under the sanctimony is something important. I think ‘Would you like to have sex with me?’ is acceptable (if rather maladroit; seriously lads, read Ovid) in many situations. It’s ‘Have sex with me or else’ that’s the problem. In this instance, the case of Harvey Weinstein is instructive, because it provides an object lesson on the limits of male sexual power.
Biologists tell us that wealth is a proxy for evolutionary fitness. Weinstein shows the line where wealth’s mere proxy-status becomes clear and evolutionary fitness still requires good teeth, hair and muscles. Money will buy only so much of those biological things. This is why Julius Caesar, among the most notorious (and successful) of Roman philanderers, was so sensitive about his bald spot.
That Weinstein looks like a genetically modified cane toad matters, despite attempts to say it isn’t so. People, and women especially, do not want to fuck something foul. Hence Weinstein’s simultaneously repellent and pathetic reliance on NDAs. Men are known to be less choosy on this point, but they too have limits. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
If #MeToo were only about putting the Weinsteins of the world back in their box (and, preferably, in gaol), it would be a moral triumph for our time. Instead, much of it represents a failure to understand how one woman’s flattering pass is another woman’s sexual assault – and its concomitant assertion all women should view insistent male sexual pursuit as the latter, not the former.