Men Like James Franco Don’t Understand Sexual Harassment
Hollywood actor James Franco, who recently won a Golden Globes award, is the latest celebrity to face allegations of sexual misconduct. Ironically, the actor had attended the ceremony proudly wearing a “Times Up” pin. And that proved to be his downfall. Five women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him, soon after his Golden Globe win.
The actor addressed these allegations on Late Night with Seth Meyers, saying “There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much,” he said. “So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.” He added, “If there’s restitution to be made, I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it.”
While the credibility of these allegations was still being debated, people started sharing passages from his 2013 semi-autobiographical novel “Actors Anonymous” on social media.
Many passages from this book indicate that the actor had a frivolous attitude towards women, and enjoyed the attention from young girls due to his celebrity status
James Franco described how he had a steady stream of sexual partners: “I had something going with most of my female co-stars and worked up a routine so that I could see someone every night.” He further went on to describe how he managed to score with young college girls.
“One of my favourite approaches was to ask the young girls that requested to take a photo with me to email me a copy of the photo; that way I can give them my info very quickly in front of a crowd of fans and later work out a way to see them.”
Franco belongs to the breed of men who have grown up idolising men who have casualised sex and reduced women as trophies of fame and power. It is no surprise that he thought he wasn’t doing anything wrong. When you have a generation of men like Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Sylvester Stallone laying the gravel on the path to be taken as an A-list Hollywood male star, sensibilities become numb.
This also points out how parents around the world have messed up a generation of men. By letting them equalise manhood with the number of women they have “scored with”. In Franco’s own words, “I had lots of sex. Lots,” he wrote in the book. “Most actors seem to do it, capitalize on their celebrity appeal. It’s funny, lots of guys that become actors were shy or nerdy or sensitive when they were younger. So when they become famous, they really cash in to make up for those years when they were overlooked or rejected.”
We cannot expect men, for whom women are a mere measure of masculinity, to understand the gravity of issues like sexual harassment
These men want to endorse our cause and empathise with us. But they just don’t know what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. We have to repeatedly slap their hands and tell them that they are wrong. Actor Ashley Judd, who has been a prominent part of the #MeToo campaign, praised Franco for addressing the allegations levied against him.
“I think that what James said is terrific,” Judd said in an interview to BBC. “And I think that we’ve all behaved, at a certain level, unconsciously, and done things that were insensitive, inappropriate, without necessarily understanding that they were. I mean, we’ve all operated with a certain amount of tone deafness, and I like the culpability, and we have to have restorative justice.”
Judd is right. The only way to sensitise men like James Franco, is to call them out. We have to tell them what they are doing wrong. Our prolonged silence has obliterated lines between casual sex, consent, harassment, rape, molestation, and repeated offence. It’s time we draw this line bold and clear, once and for all.
Maybe then, men will finally understand what that pin they proudly wear, actually stands for. Also, that apologies and restitution are not enough to heal a woman’s bruised soul.