How Henry Cavill’s Recent Interview Sparked A Conversation About Dating In The #MeToo Era

“No one’s going to call you a rapist for saying, ‘Hello,’ to a woman.”

Navigating dating — or everyday life, really — as a man in a post-#MeToo and Time's Up-conscious era may seem challenging, but it doesn't have to be. At the center of these movements are women who are speaking up about something that has affected them (i.e., sexual assault and/or sexual harassment), and asking for men to just simply be better about how they interact with them.

It seems the mission of #MeToo and Time's Up can be confusing to folks sometimes, as evidenced by Mission: Impossible — Fallout star Henry Cavill's recent interview with GQ Australia. In the piece, Cavill seems to conflate flirting (when it's done consensually, of course) with rape (which is, by definition, a non-consensual act), calling himself "old-fashioned" for reminiscing about the good ol' days because "there's something wonderful about a man chasing a woman."

Calling it a "delicate and careful thing" to address, Cavill said he'd like to think he's never been like that and that he doesn't recall ever seeing anything inappropriate. All that said, Cavill explained how "it's important to retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things." In the end, though, he acknowledged that "stuff has to change, absolutely."

Things then took a more problematic turn when Cavill noted how difficult it is to date "if there are certain rules in place." He said that makes him not want to approach a woman and talk to her because she might call him "a rapist or something." His fix for this? Call up an ex-girlfriend instead because that's "way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell." He said that once you hear "no," men will just give up. But, when a woman asks why they gave up, it was because they're afraid of going to jail.

This, of course, stirred up social media and people were quick to point out that there is no thin line between talking to a woman and assaulting one. Here's what they had to say:

After the backlash, the Justice League alum issued an apology in a statement to BuzzFeed News stating that "insensitivity was absolutely not my intention." Cavill added that he holds women in high regard and respects them — no matter what relationship he has with them. In closing, he stated: "I look forward to clarifying my position in the future towards a subject that is so vitally important and in which I wholeheartedly support."

The core issue here — and one that others, not only Cavill, are being reminded of — is what both #MeToo and Time's Up are working toward. #MeToo, started by Tarana Burke nearly a decade ago and popularized by Alyssa Milano, is a movement that brings awareness to the worldwide prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment by women — and men — coming forward and refusing to stay silent. Time's Up, an initiative started by Hollywood heavyweights, aims to tackle sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace by providing a legal defense fund for people to use to cover expenses when taking action against offenders. Together, they are working toward a world in which is safer and more equal for everyone.

Driving this point home is Burke herself, who unleashed a very educational Twitter thread. While Burke takes issue with Cavill's statements, her other big issue is how #MeToo is being talked about by the press. She points out how — specifically with the GQ Australia article — it notes that the movement has "called out and torpedoed the careers of several famous men" and how people like Cavill are now "scared to date because of it." She then tweets other ways the media has written about #MeToo, including phrases like "snared," "brought down," "careers destroyed," and "singled out." Burke then uses her platform to clarify exactly why this is not the case and that women are not doing this to get something over on the opposite sex.

When discussing how men can actually do better and be better in this day and age, the important thing is to listen and not turn themselves into victims because they're worried about romantic pursuits. It's about establishing a more equal playing field for women in the love department and treating everyone as if they are on equal playing fields — because they are. So the bottom line is that if you do that, there's nothing to worry about.

Cover image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

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