In an interview with Australian GQ this week, Henry Cavill, aka Superman, succeeded in shooting himself directly in the foot with some incredibly tone-deaf comments regarding #MeToo.
When asked in the last minute and a half of the interview what he’s learned from #MeToo, he says that he’s “been fortunate enough to not be around the kind of people who behave that way”, but that when there have been situations where colleagues have been overfamiliar with an actress, he’s “walked up to them and said ‘Hey, are you all right? That’s creepy.’”
The interviewer then asked if the movement has made him reflect on his own behaviour, which is when he really started to open up.
He mentions flirting, and how wonderful it is for men to chase women because “there’s a traditional approach to that”. His concern is that it’s difficult for men to woo and chase women if “there are certain rules in place”.
I’m going to include the next part in full, because it’s truly bizarre:
“Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something’.
“So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked’. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?
“Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No’. It’s like, ‘OK, cool’. But then there’s the, ‘Oh why’d you give up?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’”
Cavill regurgitates more than a few sexist tropes that have been used to silence victims here, including the idea that women are going to call any man that flirts with them a rapist.
To be clear here: it is in women’s interests to not downplay the seriousness of rape, so there are very few women out there calling flirting ‘rape’.
He goes on to say that #MeToo means you “can’t pursue someone further than ‘no’”, as though that’s a bad thing?
Someone expressing disinterest and you respecting their boundaries is… a good thing?
If men don’t know how to flirt with women without committing so many crimes that they end up going to jail, they shouldn’t be interacting with women in the first place.
Men being hyperaware of how their actions may be perceived is a good thing if it means women feel safer. God knows women have been hyperaware of men’s actions for long enough.