To date, no one has accused my friend of anything. For context, his movie career is heating up, and we are both attached to produce a recently-funded project.
Parallel with his career trajectory, however, is an increasing fear that two women from his past, specifically the 1990s, will seek him out and publicly disclose personal information to the press.
“Did you do anything wrong?” I asked.
“I did nothing!” he said.
“Then what are you worried about?”
”I guess I can’t trust anyone anymore.”
That was the extent of the initial conversation on the matter, but over the months my friend has become agitated over the suspicion that two decades-old relationships will soon become gossip fodder.
And he has something to say about it.
One Man’s Perspective
My friend is the type who would sooner uplift an aspiring TV or film professional than discourage them. He would rather share loving posts on his social media pages than post hate-filled rants about politics or any other controversial topic.
He believes wholeheartedly in #MeToo — at least he says he does and I believe him — though he cannot vouch that either his high school or college life was nearly as pure as the image he presently strives to convey.
I asked my friend specifically what he fears, and why.
“I had two brief relationships in college, and we went our separate ways,” he said. I told him I didn’t understand the issue, and he continued. “They may come out and tell a reporter I didn’t say something right, or I didn’t act right.”
I felt the conversation was a dead-end. My friend had two girlfriends of brief durations and the relationships ended. I am close to my friend, and I as yet have been unable to determine the precise cause of any problem. He continues to insist the only problem in essence is he was not as much of a gentleman back then.
“Any scandals?” I asked.
“Of course not,” he said.
“Anything you’d be ashamed of?”
”No. I just don’t want them to become angry with me again when the movie announcement is made.”
”I think I get it,” I said. “They were angry with you when the breakups happened… and you think they’ll come back and try to ruin your career?”
This was all so utterly irrational to me, though with permission I asked another male friend of mine, a writer, what he thought.
”Your friend is absolutely right,” he said. “It’s unsafe out there now. Your past can come back and ruin your career if you’re not careful.”
His response was stunning to me, and yet punctuated some authentic fears on the part of some men who many years ago were engaged in relationships that did not end well.
Misconceptions About #MeToo
I followed up by asking other male friends and associates about their perspectives. Many of them had thoughts similar to my friend, which I believe are sad as well as irrational.
Here are some unedited comments:
- ”I don’t want to work with women anymore. All it takes is one to complain about you and your career is up in smoke.”
- ”The concept of consenting adults is meaningless in 2021.”
- ”I’m so glad I’m married.”
- “Being single today is the worst thing ever.”
- “You’d have thought Fifty Shades of Grey would have let women be women. That thing was huge, but we’re all so woke now we had no time to enjoy it.”
One guy, though, was sensible:
- “If you act disrespectfully towards a woman, you deserve to be treated the same way. Period.”
It appears as though some men resent both women and progress. As I have known some of these individuals personally for many years, I was unhappily surprised.
One thing was proven to me: If many men are now looking at themselves as victims, we have serious problems.
The concept of #MeToo was derived in part to help woman — and also men and non-binary individuals — to realize it is okay to call attention to past indiscretions that had been foisted upon them. It is neither a club nor a cult, and yet a surprising cross-section of men fear the hashtag, or resent it, in part based on a perception it is destroying their social lives.
It is not. It is saving lives.
My friend asked me to share his thoughts here in the interests of reading some feedback.
For the record, his thought on #MeToo is this: “It’s about time. I just pray I didn’t do anything stupid back then to put anyone in the position to report me. That’s what I fear most”
This will be continued. Thank you for reading.