Hannah Gadsby delivered the opening remarks at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Hollywood Gala on Wednesday, and her speech was a searing criticism of good men, and good white people, and good straight people, who criticise bad men/bad white people/bad straight people, but do so while constantly shifting the goalposts of what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
Gadsby started by saying she wanted to talk about good men, which garnered applause from much of the room. She followed that up with “…you’re going to regret that clap.”
In her speech, she mentions the abundance of ‘Jimmys’ on late-night television and in the public arena who are given the space to condemn ‘bad men’ while reminding everyone that they’re one of the good guys.
“But the last thing I need right now in this moment in history is to have to listen to men monologue about misogyny and how other men should just stop being “creepy,” as if that’s the problem.”
Gadsby’s issue with these men and their monologues is that, to them, there are two types of bad men: irredeemable men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and the ‘FOJs’: the Friends of Jimmy, like Louis CK, who are otherwise decent men who made a mistake. “These are apparently good men who misread the rules — garden-variety consent dyslexics.”
Gadsby’s issue with this is that men often draw a different line in the sand of acceptable behaviour for different occasions.
“They have a line for the locker room; a line for when their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters are watching; another line for when they’re drunk and fratting; another line for nondisclosure; a line for friends; and a line for foes.”
Gadsby says that we need to talk about this line, because only good men are the ones allowed to draw it, and all men believe they are good. Good men get to draw the line to suit their own needs – if they make a mistake, and, say, masturbate in front of colleagues without their consent, they can just move the line so that their behaviour isn’t ‘completely unacceptable’ but simply ‘a mistake’. And their friends, the Jimmys, will support them in this. (And sometimes, women can be Jimmys too.)
In Gadsby’s words, “they move the line for their own good”.
She doesn’t just stop at calling out ‘good men’, though.
“Now take everything I have said up until this point and replace “man” with “white person,” and know that if you are a white woman, you have no place drawing lines in the sand between good white people and bad white people. I encourage you to also take the time to replace “man” with “straight” or “cis” or “able-bodied” or “neurotypical,” et cetera, et cetera.”
As Gadsby explains, everyone believes they are fundamentally good. Of course people are going to give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and of course their friends are too. But that’s exactly why it shouldn’t be up to those people, or their friends, to determine what is an isn’t acceptable; to determine where the line is drawn.
Naturally, some men responded poorly to Gadsby’s remarks:
Here’s the thing, men who see themselves as good: if you genuinely are a good person and supporter of women, you won’t worry about what someone who’s never met you, and who isn’t specifically talking about you, has to say about you. You’ll just get on with the job of holding other men accountable and not shifting the goalposts whenever a ‘good man’ you know is accused of something unsavoury.
Or you could just go on Twitter and demand congratulations for not having assaulted anybody, because apparently the bar is that low. That’s another option.
You can watch the speech here, or read a transcript over at Vulture.