Women In Hollywood Remind Men To Not Mansplain Sexual Harassment and Assault

“It’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not.”

Many men are allowing women to dictate the cultural conversation about men's sexual assault and harassment of women. Others, though, are still giving their two cents in counterproductive ways. And in turn, women — already tired of staying silent or being silenced — are still fighting for their stories to be heard and taken seriously.

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Last week, actor Matt Damon gave his take on this "watershed moment" in an interview with ABC News' Peter Travers, and his views have sparked controversy and backlash, even from a co-star.

While acknowledging that "all of that behavior" needs to be confronted, Damon claimed there is a spectrum of misdeeds and seemingly implied some misdeeds are more justifiable than others. "There's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?" he said. "Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn't be conflated."

"We live in this culture of outrage and injury, that we're going to have to correct enough to kind of go, 'Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect,' " he added.

Alyssa Milano, an alum of such shows as Charmed and Mistresses, posted a Twitter thread in response Damon's opinions on December 15, explaining why this "culture of outrage" exists.

"Dear Matt Damon, it's the micro that makes the macro," she began. "We are in a 'culture of outrage' because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous. I have been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum of which you speak. They all hurt. And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted — even welcomed — misogyny."

"We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture," the 44-year-old explained. "We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long. There are different stages of cancer. Some more treatable than others. But it's still cancer. Sexual harassment, misconduct, assault, and violence is a systemic disease."

Minnie Driver, the star of Speechless and a co-star of Damon's in Good Will Hunting, also addressed his views via Twitter on December 15.

"Gosh, it's so interesting* how men with all these opinions about women's differentiation between sexual misconduct, assault, and rape reveal themselves to be utterly tone deaf and, as a result, systemically part of the problem (*profoundly unsurprising)," she wrote.

The Guardian later followed up with Driver, who told the newspaper she felt she "desperately needed to say something."

"I've realized that [with] most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off. They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level," she said. "I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can't tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it's galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not."

One actor's alleged "Damonsplaining" aside, Milano and Driver's statements provide powerful arguments all men can heed: Women are rightfully outraged by these outrageous times. Powerful men wield their power in harmful ways and, outrageously, often get away with it. And it's outrageous for those in privileged positions to assume expertise in the experiences of the oppressed. Perhaps next time, certain men can come to these realizations themselves and spare women from the burden of doing the explaining.

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