There’s been a lot of revelations about sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and intimidation in the entertainment industry of the last few weeks. In the last episode when I was talking to sociologist Ben Carrington, the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were already grim, but hadn’t yet reached the avalanche that we’re at now. A slew of other powerful men in the entertainment and news industry have been accused, many resigning or being removed, a few even issuing apologies.
It’s been both satisfying and triggering to read the news of new allegations day after day, tales of women and men living in fear, being forced to compromise their pride and dignity in exchange for their paycheck or the chance at living out their dreams. What’s been more disturbing for me is the sense of helplessness and hopelessness many of Weinstein’s victims felt. If they said nothing they were punished, if they did say something they were punished, if they allowed it to happen they were punished, if they ran away they were punished.
It’s made me sadder to see just how many men really seemed to have no idea just how pervasive and constant this problem has been. It feels like a hard-won vindication against all the victim blaming and insistence that women are just too sensitive to work in male dominated industries, the #metoo hashtag has forced people to reckon with the damage and suffering that women and to some extent younger gay men have been working through in silence.
Another thing that has been revealed through all these horrible stories, is the mindset of the predator, as seen through the public apologies that all seem to obfuscate responsibility while deflecting responsibility by revealing some reason for their behavior that mitigates their crime, for Harvey Weinstein, it’s that he’s a sex addict not a rapist, for Kevin Spacey yesterday it wasn’t that he was a pedophile, simply a gay man.
I dissected his apology on Twitter and want to do so again here, to help construct a portrait of the predator and the narcissism that drives them.
In a statement Kevin Spacey, who was accused of making a very physically aggressive sexual advance on a 14 year old boy, said that he didn’t remember the events, but if he did he was drunk and regrets his actions, he goes on to reveal that he is a gay man. He actually spends more time discussing his sexuality than apologizing to his victim.
So here is what I said on Twitter in a thread:
Kevin Spacey making his apology all about him, gives a perfect insight into the narcissistic mindset of a predator. Victims and their suffering are incidental to the expression of their desires and the exercise of their power. People are just sources to extract validation from to maintain their sense of control, mirrors to see themselves reflected back as God. They don’t feel like they exist unless the people around them are in love or afraid of them, and they often conflate the two.
They don’t care about the pain they cause, not because they lack empathy, but because they feel terrified by their need for validation. They’re so scared and angry that they have nothing but contempt for other people, especially people that have the capacity for love. That’s why they prey on those that are trusting. They despise vulnerable people because they despise their own vulnerability. They think by snuffing out a vulnerable person, they snuff out their own vulnerability. But it’s a temporary fix. One rejection, one frustration, and they need another fix. That’s why they have to do it over and over again.
The heavy feeling that comes with revelations like this is all the pain that is out there, how helpless people were made to feel, and how the fuck we are going to fix it. This task is daunting. How to we prevent more damage, how do we repair the damage that is already done, and how to reconcile all the anguish that was then spread out and on to others.
My guest this week is Conner Habib, and we set out to discuss exactly what consent means and why we need better language around sex and sexual assault. Conner is a lifelong sexworker and LGBTQ advocate, a porn performer, former boardmember of APAC, the adult performer advocacy group, a lecturer and a writer. Conner has some provocative views on consent and his interest in the occult and radical politics allows him to take less conventional approaches to analysis that always blow me away. He’s an all around thoughtful person.
Conner has his own webseries, Against Everyone, that you can find on YouTube. You can follow him on Twitter @ConnerHabib.
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