Another day, another man being disappointing. All you have to do is be nice to us and not chase us down the street, which is apparently too much to ask from Henry Cavill. The actor who plays Superman is stuck in the 50’s, or thinks he is actually an invincible God, given the misguided nature of his comments in GQ last week. He argued that the MeToo movement had spoiled his dating game, and he is too scared to flirt with women now, in case he gets called a rapist. People rapidly sprung to Cavill’s defense, saying that it was a shame that women don’t get ‘courted’ anymore.
I can understand why in this rapidly changing social environment men feel a bit confused about what is and isn’t allowed. After all, movements like MeToo are challenging ideas that are hundreds of years old. I don’t have an issue with men being uncertain and asking for help, that’s completely fair. What I do have a problem with is men ignoring the boundaries that women have set and rejecting the advice that women are giving them.
If I tell you that I don’t like being ‘wooed’ you have to take my word for it. And yes, some women might like that, but again, just ask them. Take their desires and wishes into account. This all revolves around respecting women’s wishes and autonomy. If women, or even a single woman, tells you she doesn’t like something, don’t do it. Communication my friends, it’s all about communication.
Cavill has apologised, probably because he wants to keep his career, although who knows? Maybe he genuinely didn’t know that flirtation and rape are completely different things until mere hours ago.
Our ideas regarding ‘romance’ are so heavily drenched in misogyny that it can seem hard to address issues of consent and harassment without destroying what has been perceived to be ‘romantic.’ Look at the stories we grew up with as our bench marks; Sleeping Beauty is basically a cautionary tale about falling asleep around men you don’t know. The Notebook is absolute nonsense; ‘They had nothing in common except they were crazy about each other’ sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Romance, desire, love, these are all intensely personal experiences. People express their emotions in a huge variety of ways, we all have different means of showing people that we care about them. I’m a really affectionate person, so I’m super touchy feely. But, if someone told me that made them uncomfortable, I’d take that into account. I don’t think you can be in love with someone if you don’t respect them as a person.
If you can’t find any way of expressing your admiration for someone other than harassing them, then you are not only being intensely disrespectful, you’re also really lacking imagination. Women are not cookie cutter replicas of each other, we have our own wishes and preferences. Ask us. Read the signs. Listen. And as a rule, if you don’t want to be called a rapist, Henry Cavill et al, don’t rape people. It’s very simple.