I was a big fan of Woody Allen for a long time. Nearly two decades, actually, which is saying a lot since I’m not yet 40.
His specific kind of self-deprecating banter that’s somehow both nihilistic and disarmingly charming is something I’ve long incorporated into my own sense of comedy, and anyone with an even remotely similar style will always get attention from me.
I side-eyed him when I realized that he’d married his former step-daughter (and I quote: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Oh dear.)
Much to my current embarrassment, I also gave him the benefit of the doubt when his daughter accused him of sexual abuse, thinking that surely someone else would have noticed. I mean, isn’t a celebrity family constantly surrounded by others?
But when the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story broke it all fell apart and I knew, definitively, that he was not a good guy.
I read an op-ed piece that Woody Allen wrote defending Weinstein, and fell out of love in a matter of seconds: not only did he classify his “persecution” (excuse me?) as a “witch hunt,” he had the nerve to say that he himself had been told about all kinds of abuse from women throughout the years, but none of them were ever told “seriously.”
I’m sorry, what? How does Woody Allen think he knows that women were always joking when they told him about being harassed and abused? In that moment, he lost all credibility for me.
I thought of this sad story when our own dear president claimed last week that up to 90% of the calls reporting domestic abuse were made up. He backtracked a bit after saying this, grouping them in with fake calls about bombs to the metro and such, though I fail to see how those things fit into even the loosest category together.
He even preemptively accused the media of “twisting his words,” surely realizing he’d stuck his foot in his mouth once again.
The reason he thinks he knows this? Well, he just does. He’s always treated women with respect, after all. And the Mexican family is so “united,” so how could that possibly co-exist with abuse?
His vision of a typical household is basically Norman Rockwell a la mexicana, and he doesn’t seem willing to let go of it for anything:
“In the homes of Mexicans, the children are there, the daughters-in-law, the grandchildren, and there has always been harmonious cohabitation. In other places, where this tradition, this culture, doesn’t exist it might be that isolation [to limit the spread of coronavirus] causes aggravation, confrontation and violence.”
I know that Mexicans are “used to living together.” Big deal. All humans are used to living together, it’s what we do. And that doesn’t mean that abuse doesn’t happen. In fact, data from all over the world, not just Mexico, has proved that being locked up in close quarters has contributed to a significant increase in domestic abuse, especially toward women and children.
“There has always been harmonious cohabitation.” Are you sure about that? Cohabitation, yes. Harmonious? I’d suggest asking the women in these families how that’s going.
Look, AMLO: there are the things you know, the things that you know that you don’t know, and then there are the things that you don’t know you don’t know. Though you seem to think there are very few items in that third category, there are actually quite a lot.
Also: it’s OK to make mistakes and backtrack if you need to. Humility’s a good look, not a weak one. Few sentences make me feel more human and deserving of grace than “I was wrong.” Give it a try, you’ll see.
It’s OK to have people smarter than you around. It’s OK to say, “Gee, really? Let me double-check those numbers because I’ve been told something else in briefings. Or even “You know, that’s something that I’m evolving on, and trying to get better at as a man in a macho culture. I’ve always treated women with respect and am against gender violence, but I know that’s not enough, and I’m actively working with my administration to address the issue in concrete ways.” Those are the sentences I want to hear.
Meanwhile, women are stuck at home with people who hurt them. An average of 155 calls per hour are made by women so desperate and worried that they feel they need outside help to protect their safety. Are any of them lying or joking?
I suppose it’s possible, even statistically likely. But 90%? Just stop, AMLO. Es más, backtrack. No shame in misspeaking and admitting a mistake.
I’m still rooting for you, AMLO, because you’re in charge of Mexico, and I’m always rooting for Mexico. I truly believe that this is one of the best countries in the world (as all immigrants tend to believe about their new homes, I suppose).
I even still basically agree with your overall ideology and vision for Mexico. But hearing you continually dismiss violence against women makes me despair that it will ever end.
Sarah DeVries writes from her home in Xalapa, Veracruz.