‘I would like to make a toast to all the good guys in Hollywood,’ Olivia Munn stated as she began hosting the Critic’s Choice Awards in LA this week.
Munn went on to celebrate a range of Hollywood ‘good guys’ who have treated her in a way that she expects whilst Niecy Nash, her co-host, echoed those sentiments with a drippingly sarcastic, ‘Yes thank you for doing what you’re supposed to do.’
Whilst some saw these comments as a nod to those guys out there, doing the right thing, some of us saw it for what it ACTUALLY was, a prod at the apparent need to congratulate men on just doing the bare minimum.
This lead me to wonder, should we award guys for just being decent human beings?
It really is a minefield out in the world at the moment. Men are scared to compliment women on the street, send ‘xx’s at the end of work emails and ask out women on public transport in fear of appearing like massive creeps.
And so they bloody should.
What the #MeToo movement has brought to light in the minds of many men, is the behaviour that they once exhibited, got away with and normalized is actually, seriously, not acceptable.
There’s a huge shift in society currently taking place – can you feel it?
It’s palpable. Men are suddenly having to question every move they have ever made. They are having to apply a Creep Ethical Code to every action and I say, SO THEY SHOULD.
For too long, men (and don’t come at me with the NOT ALL MEN bollocks), have had their behaviours accepted and unchecked just because that was the way it was. Was. Not is.
For too long, men have walked this Earth with a god-given right to get away with behaviour that others would never dream of exhibiting.
And furthermore, for too long, men have been rewarded just for not being, #AllMen.
They have been applauded for not being rapists.
They have been celebrated for standing alongside women and wearing black in solidarity.
They have been acknowledged when they have admitted previous wrong-doings.
They have been awarded just for being human.
And I, along with Munn, Nash and others, think it’s time that stops.
Of course, change only happens over time. And of course, men who admit they have been wrong, who try to change behaviours they exhibit or who start to stand up for what’s right is a really positive step for progress.
But is it worthy of awards and recognition?
By celebrating a man every time he puts his hands up and says, ‘I was wrong in how I used to act,’ are we in-fact saying that men can continue to behave the way they do as long as they apologise when they get caught?
Or should we be saying, ‘Thank you for changing.’ and leaving it at that?
Because this is not a Hollywood problem. This is an every day, in every household problem.
Men are considered angelic if they deign themselves worthy of staying at home with the kids and changing nappies. They are put on a pedestal if they take up an ounce of the chores a woman is normally expected to do.
I mean, we’ve all been part of conversations like the following,
‘Yeah my boyfriend cooked a stir-fry last night whilst I had a bath!’
‘Oh my god, how cute! What a keeper! Ones like him don’t come around often!’
If your partner does any housework, or even any emotional labour – like remembering to send cards on family birthdays, reminding you of your health appointments, organising the groceries, lending a listening ear when you’ve had a tough day at work or pausing Fifa for 5 minutes so he can help with the hoovering – you’re made to feel like you’ve won the lottery.
From households to Hollywood, men are forever being celebrated JUST for doing what is expected of a decent human being and it is time this stops.
Because this ‘boys will be boys’ rhetoric that is reinforced by celebrating them when they do something that doesn’t fit inside the ‘boys will be boys’ narrative is actually one of the foundations of rape culture.
For too long, girls were told to accept being pinched, pulled or kicked because it was how boys showed they liked them. Boys will be boys.
For too long, women stayed quiet over abuse because that was just how things were. Boys will be boys.
For too long, women allowed men to put them in uncomfortable situations because refusing or turning them down would be causing a fuss and upsetting to those men. Boys will be boys after all.
And for too long, we have rewarded the men in our lives with gratitude when they complete even the most simplest and basic of niceties because we don’t usually expect that kind of behaviour from them, because guess what? Boys will be boys.
And unless we end this cycle of allowing behaviours on the grounds of ‘boys will be boys’ and going over the top in our celebrations of behaviours that fall outside that neatly wrapped saying, things will not change.
We can affect this change.
We can thank men for becoming allies, of course. But we can make sure that we don’t go over the top in our applause when they exhibit behaviours that are just the bare minimum and the most basic of human decencies.
Like wearing a black suit to the Red Carpet.