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Matt Damon vs. Celebrities: Dissenting Opinions on Sexual Assault

Are the numerous stories about sexual assault and harassment on social media true? Those who have endured sexual assault and harassment would agree, but actor Matt Damon isn’t necessarily convinced.

In an article featured in Vulture, Damon stated that consequences for behaviors should fit the crime, and that not all crimes are equal because they fall on a “spectrum of behavior.” For example, rape and child molestation are clearly criminal behavior, versus crude behavior, which is not necessarily as severe, according to Damon.

“We’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?,” Damon said in an interview with ABC.

Damon observed how the stories women frequently share about sexual harassment and assault on social media have brought change, yet they have also created a pattern of women seeking redress.

“We’re so energized to get retribution. We live in this culture of outrage and injury that we’re gonna have to correct, enough to kind of go, ‘Well, wait a minute––none of us came here perfect,’” Damon said.

He later pointed out that Al Franken inappropriately touched a woman when he took a photo with her – which was crude – yet he believes Harvey Weinstein committed criminal offenses, so they don’t belong in the same category.

In response to his comments, celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Minnie Driver – Damon’s co-star in Good Will Hunting – have become voices for sexual assault victims on Twitter. Milano recently challenged Damon’s thoughts in a open letter via a Twitter thread.

“Dear Matt Damon, it is the micro that makes the macro,” she wrote. “We are in a culture of rage because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous.”

 

She later explained how silencing sexual assault angers victims.

“We are outraged because we were made to feel like this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.”

After this, she related sexual assault to a disease – cancer – to a mixed response of outcry and appreciation from various Twitter audiences.

“Sexual harassment, misconduct, and violence is a systemic disease. The tumor is being cut out right now with no anesthesia. Please send flowers. #MeToo,” she added.

Driver eventually retweeted an article about his opinions on sexual misconduct.

“God God, SERIOUSLY?,” Driver wrote.

Niall Stanage, a columnist for The Hill, expressed his thoughts on the situation and explained how, due to the nature of the law, he didn’t see a problem with Damon’s statement.

“In all good faith, I don’t see what was wrong with what Damon said. He said it’s all wrong but some things are worse than others. I’m honestly perplexed that this is controversial. To use example she cites, the law (rightly imho) reflects that rape IS worse than indecent exposure,” Stanage wrote, reflecting on the article that Driver retweeted.

Driver respectfully replied to his comment and described how abuse perpetuates because of this attitude.

“Niall. You illustrate the problem succinctly. Until men begin to see how insidious it is to differentiate the response to abuse – the culture sadly doesn’t change. The bad but ‘less bad’ stuff matters as much as the ‘bad’ bad. Ask a woman who has been abused,” Driver tweeted.

Social media has allowed the discussion on what defines sexual assault and harassment to grow, but it also raises the question of punishment and the severity of cases. Where do you stand on the issue? Does Damon make a strong case, or are all cases of sexual misconduct created equal?

Featured Image by Disney ABC Television Group on Flickr

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