Has the #MeToo campaign left feminists incapable of forgiveness?

Some campaigners think that men guilty of sexually inappropriate behaviour should be denied work and held up as an example to others

Monica Lewinsky opens up about relationship with Bill Clinton in The Clinton Affair docuseries

When a high-profile man is publicly accused of sexual impropriety, can they ever be forgiven?

Anyone found guilty in a court of law serves their sentence and is entitled to return to a normal life. Post #MeToo, a new moral code seems to be emerging, one that does not easily accommodate forgiveness or offer a second chance. Some campaigners think that men guilty of sexually inappropriate behaviour even though they are not charged with any crime should be denied work and held up as an example to others.

Emma Thompson is a trailblazer for the new feminism. She walked out of a film because the producers hired a man who has admitted to “missteps” in the way he behaved towards female workers at his previous job, which he has said made them feel “disrespected”. Creative head of Disney’s Pixar, John Lasseter, was publicly shamed for his alleged drunken advances, groping, unwanted kisses and creepy comments.

After the allegations emerged at Pixar in 2017, Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence, apologised and subsequently left the company. Now, he’s been hired to work as creative head on Luck, an animated film starring Thompson.

According to Emma, the producers who picked Lasseter were giving him a second chance (she obviously doesn’t think he merits one), and she’s angry that his previous behaviour is being described as “mistakes”. She wrote to the Los Angeles Times, “if a man has been touching a woman inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract he must behave ‘appropriately’?”. In other words, she doesn’t believe Lasseter will ever really change.

Lasseter co-founded Pixar and was the brilliant mind behind Toy Story. I can imagine his alleged behaviour would have been repulsive for those in close proximity, but... if some of the women he worked with say they’re happy to have him back, should he be banned from pursuing his craft? Or has the notion of forgiveness been discarded by activists who want men like Lasseter to be shunned as well as shamed for an indeterminate period?

They argue it’s the only way to act if sexually inappropriate behaviour in the workplace is to be eradicated for good. Emma asserts she’s making a stand for her daughter’s generation but is she guilty of heavy-handed puritanism?

I wonder what #MeToo accusers would like to happen to the objects of their anger? Put bluntly, do they want men like Kevin Spacey (currently guilty of no crime, still awaiting trial on charges of sexual misconduct), Harvey Weinstein (ditto) never to work again? With few cases of sexual misconduct going to trial, is it left to accusers to decide who can be trusted to return to the workplace and who should be shunned? To use social media as a form of rough justice?

Emma talks of “difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising” shouldn’t this be a time for mediation and reconciliation, for rebuilding the relationship between the sexes? Long before Weinstein and the very public revelations of bad behaviour in Hollywood, the White House was where sex and power led to indiscretions involving old men and girls in lowly jobs.

President Kennedy’s affairs were legendary. Young women queued up to work as unpaid helpers like Monica Lewinsky, the 22-year-old White House intern who had a series of sexual encounters with 49-year-old President Clinton between 1995 and 1997. Following the Starr investigation, every aspect of their relationship was in the public domain and Monica was slut-shamed around the world, the butt of jokes in every language. No wonder she went into hiding.

Initially, Monica described what happened as “a mutual relationship”, but following #MeToo she re-evaluated events, writing an essay (entitled “Shame and Survival”) for Vanity Fair in 2018 describing the 12 sexual interactions with Clinton as “a gross abuse of power”. Over 20 years later, Monica calls herself the “first victim of cyber-bullying”.

At a conference in Dublin this week, she told the audience: “I lost my reputation, my dignity and I almost lost my life … my mistake was to fall in love with my boss.” Last year, Hillary Clinton was asked if Bill should have resigned the presidency, and answered “absolutely not … she was an adult”.

In spite of starting a fashion business, hosting a reality show about dating for Fox TV, and completing a Masters Degree at the London School of Economics, Monica doesn’t seem to have found a way to move on. She gave 20 hours of interviews recently for a documentary series entitled The Clinton Affair.

I don’t want to be cruel, but isn’t she turning an ancient infatuation into a pay cheque? Monica wants it both ways fame and validation by continually rehashing her history. She owes it to herself to stop playing the victim. Like Emma, she should move on, forgive and forget.

New tricks?

Fitbits for dogs? I want a device which calms our dog down, not something that makes him move around more. The moment I try to watch television, Badger the border terrier takes it as an affront and starts demanding attention. Last Saturday he howled a song in competition with the theme tune to the incomprehensible crime saga Trapped on BBC4.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, hundreds of new gizmos for pets were launched, designed to link them to your smart phone so that you can feel close to them 24/7. Trackers attached to an animal’s collar can monitor their activity, rate of calorie burn, the amount of time they spend scratching or barking and how much time slumped on the sofa dozing.

Mischievous cats caught on camera being hilarious

This “pet wearables market” is big business for mobile phone manufacturers and apparently will be worth $8bn by 2024. I’ve already succumbed, buying a pet camera for my partner to monitor the dog’s movements when he goes to London on business. Guess what? The dog sits in the window barking at passers by who have the cheek to come within 10 yards! Why did I waste my money to find out the bloody obvious?

Cat owners can start saving up now for the LavvieBot, on sale from May for around £300. This high-tech gizmo is a self-cleaning cat litter tray, which tells owners when it’s been used, weighing the cat at the same time. I can imagine the scene – a woman sits in a restaurant, perusing the menu, her phone bleeps. Her date asks, “Urgent message?” She replies, “No, don’t worry, the cat has just done a poo”.

I’d like a simple robot which could entertain our dog by playing with Sally the stuffed stoat, so I can catch up with The Archers.

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