Powerful Man Confronts Powerful Man

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and assault.]

During a panel last night in New York, accompanying a 20th anniversary screening of the film Wag the Dog, moderator John Oliver asked Dustin Hoffman about recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault. And Hoffman was not happy about it.

There is video of part of the exchange at the Washington Post, where Steven Zeitchik also provides a detailed summary.

The whole thing is fascinating, but, as I noted on Twitter, the most compelling part to me is Hoffman asking if he's a powerful man. Such a remarkable moment of a man diminishing himself to play the victim in response to accountability for victimizing others.
Oliver said that he considered not addressing the subject at what was intended as a genial chat but then decided he bore an obligation.

"I can't leave certain things unaddressed," the host said. "The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately that leaves me at home later at night hating myself. 'Why the…didn't I say something? No one stands up to powerful men.'"

"Am I the powerful man?" Hoffman asked.
Wow. WOW.

This is a dynamic that men must begin to understand — particularly because it doesn't work nearly as well when the confrontation is between two men, which should urgently move men to be challengers in precisely the way Oliver is here, instead of leaving the work to women.

Let me observe once again that a man who is truly in alliance with women doesn't treat the dismantling of the patriarchy as "women's work."

Not just because it's shitty and lazy, but because he knows that men have leverage to address abusive men in ways that women don't, because of the patriarchy.

John Oliver will be called a hero today. If I had done precisely the same thing, even if to a man who had harmed me personally, I'd be called a bitch.

That isn't incidental. And neither is the fact that Hoffman's victim-playing wasn't effective, because we aren't entrained to view men who hold other men accountable as unfair, uncharitable, mean.

More of this, please. I'm sure I'm not the only woman who would like to rest while men who assert to be allies step the fuck up for awhile.

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