First, Helen Mirren shared her opinions on rape. Now, Jeremy Irons has weighed in on sexual harassment. I’m beginning to think I only ever want to hear my favorite British actors speak when someone else is providing their lines.
Says Irons (in the context of complaining about the proliferation of sexual harassment laws):
Most people are robust. If a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it. It’s communication. Can’t we be friendly?
Put aside, for the moment, the implication that a women traumatized by sexual harassment is not “worth her salt”, and the suggestion that the motive for most such harassment is a desire to be “friendly”. Irons seems to be suggesting that sexual harassment laws are superfluous (ridiculous, even) because women can simply “deal with it”.
Yes, if someone grabs my ass uninvited, I can deal with it. It’s happened before and I lived to tell the tale. Likewise, if someone walks up to me and punches me in the face, I can deal with that. (And if I had a choice between which situation to deal with, I’d choose the latter.) That doesn’t mean either action is acceptable, morally or legally.
Women shouldn’t have to live under threat – whether it’s threat of physical violence, intimidation, sexual pressure or domination, whatever. The fact that they can sometimes adapt to the presence of such threat – that they can be successful or function reasonably well even in the face of it – doesn’t mean it does them no harm, and it certainly doesn’t mean they should have to put up with it.
Jeremy Irons may not like having to refrain from ass-groping, of course. But I’m sure any Englishman worth his salt can – what was it? – deal with it.