Yesterday Ben Affleck shared a statement about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein saying, in part, that: “We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it, and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 10, 2017
Affleck, like many other A-listers, is scrambling to figure out how to respond to accusations that Weinstein sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women over the course of his decades-long career as a Hollywood exec. But while Affleck’s statement reads like something straight out of The Nice Guy Feminist Actor’s playbook, many feel that his words are far too little and come far too late.
In fact, it’s entirely plausible that Affleck may have known about Weinstein’s mistreatment of women long before that first New York Times story broke. Rose McGowan specifically called out Affleck on Twitter twice, first telling him to “f-ck off,” and then replying to his statement by saying “You lie”—which she reiterated later in follow-up New York Times story was part of her assertion that Affleck knew about Weinstein, because she had told him about what happened to her years ago. McGowan says after she disclosed the assault to Affleck, he replied: “Goddamnit! I told him to stop doing that.”
@benaffleck “GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT” you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 10, 2017
There are other peculiarities about Affleck’s statement.
We know Weinstein and Affleck have worked together for more than 20 years. Miramax, the company that Weinstein co-founded, produced Good Will Hunting back in 1997 and helped launch Affleck’s career.
Yet not once does Affleck mention Weinstein’s name in his statement. In fact, the statement is largely about Affleck and his own feelings: how “saddened and angry” he is, how the allegations of assault made him “sick,” how he finds himself wondering what he personally can do to make sure “this doesn’t happen to others.” He doesn’t even mention Weinstein’s victims until the very last sentence of his statement, at which point he offers some vague platitude about needing to support them.
Affleck might want it to seem like coming out with this statement is a brave move, but there’s little bravery in condemning the actions of a predator a full five days after he’s been publicly outed and denounced for his behaviour.
Many are also questioning the timing of Affleck’s tweet considering that it came almost immediately after his name was listed in The Guardian along with 26 other men who had worked on Weinstein films and had been contacted for commentary by journalists Sam Levin and Julia Carrie Wong. “None commented, despite the fact that many have been vocal about gender equality in the industry and other social justice causes,” wrote Levin and Wong. “Many have directly criticized Donald Trump amid similar accusations of sexual misconduct.”
Then there’s the claim that Affleck’s best friend and former screenwriting partner Matt Damon may have helped kill a 2004 New York Times story about Weinstein’s predatory behaviour, which lends even more credence to McGowan’s accusations of lying. It’s clear that Weinstein was surrounded by powerful men who would blithely pretend not to see harassment, manipulation and sexual assault if it meant that they got the roles they wanted.
And finally: if Affleck truly meant everything he said in his statement, why has he not yet spoken out about similar allegations made against his brother Casey?
Men like Affleck like to talk a good game about feminism and sexual assault and protecting women, but who will protect us from the Ben Afflecks of the world? Who will save us from the good guys who willingly worked with men they knew were sexual predators and seemingly did nothing to protect the women around them? Make no mistake: all the other powerful men who ignored Weinstein’s behaviour in favour of their own careers are complicit in what Weinstein did. These men, these silent on-lookers, these nice guys who say the right words only when it’s convenient for them all bear some of the blame for what happened to Weinstein’s victims.
Before Ben Affleck begins condemning anyone else’s behaviour, he should begin by condemning his own.
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