The precipitous downfall of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein last month over allegations of “casting couch” sexual harassment and even rape, dramatic though his fall from grace was, can now be seen as just the beginning of a mighty cataclysm, a cultural October Revolution to rival in scale and significance its political predecessor in Russia exactly a century before.

Weinstein himself has been accused of impropriety by at least 77 women, mainly actresses and models, including 12 allegations of rape. While none of these has so far resulted in criminal charges (but it is still early days), the man’s own admissions of dubious behaviour hardly exonerate him.

Even if many of the accusations are no more than hot air, they have nevertheless been very hot. Hot enough to ignite a conflagration of further accusations not just in the entertainment business (where actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K., and filmmaker Brett Ratner all had projects cancelled once the finger was pointed), but also in US media organisations and in other countries, especially within the British political scene. In the so-called “Pestminster” scandal, Westminster politicians from both of the main parties came in for a drubbing, the biggest scalp being that of Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, who was forced to resign for the heinous crime of touching a woman on her knee 15 years ago. Even his accuser, journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, admitted that she had not been “remotely upset or distressed”, and thought the pressure for his departure from office was an over-reaction. But he was made to go anyway, in a move that further destabilised an already weak government. Along with the farce there was also tragedy. Carl Sargeant, a minister in the Welsh devolved government, hanged himself following unspecified sexual allegations.

Not cut out for the job? Aled Jones, who won fame as a choirboy and is a presenter of the long-running TV programme Songs of Praise, which features Christian hymns, has been taken off the air by the BBC after being accused of sexual harassment. He is seen here with a cut-out of his younger self.

Russia’s Revolution was famously described as Ten Days That Shook the World. Is it ridiculous to compare that vast upheaval to women’s (mainly women’s) current uprising against men’s, well, risings up? I thought about characterising these events in a less dramatic way, as something almost routine. I could have spoken of the latest “moral panic”, following many others in recent decades, most of them focused on various aspects of “child abuse”, real or imagined (mainly the latter). But the term “panic” didn’t seem to cover what is now going on, which smacks more of a determined, long-brewing, revolt rather than a panicky reaction to a newly-perceived danger. I could also have dubbed it the latest “witch-hunt”, which seems to be the cliché of choice among those who really are panicking, including men who see unsolicited pussy-grabbing and tit-squeezing – or even outright rape – as their inalienable right. However, the term “witch-hunt” implies an unjust campaign against innocent people, but there is nothing unjust about calling to account those who really have engaged in sexual assault – and my impression is that a substantial proportion of the complaints are probably genuine. So the term “witch-hunt”, like “moral panic”, fails to capture what is going on.

A “revolt”, by contrast, conjures up visions of seething discontent, with pressure slowly building from below and then erupting violently, with uncontrollable consequences that may in some cases be just and in others grossly unjust. In such a scenario, even entirely well-behaved, respectful men (and women) are right to be alarmed, because revolts tend to be instigated and led by opportunists and extremists – attention-seekers and compo hunters, in this case, aided and abetted by sour-faced, fun-hating, feminist zealots. In this scenario it is not just the bad guys who need worry: innocuous flirting between adults is also being put off limits, with a consequential poisoning of the atmosphere that threatens legitimate courtship and sexual relations in general.

Nothing could be more profound or revolutionary in its implications. The mass nature of the movement, and hence the scale of the threat, is perhaps best symbolised in the emergence of the hashtag #MeToo, under which banner women have been rallying in droves to share their own experiences of alleged sexual assault, harassment, or rape on social media. It has been called the Weinstein Effect, which sounds rather bloodlessly scientific, like Boyle’s Law. For me, though, there are echoes of “I am Spartacus”, Hollywood’s entirely fictional but highly emotive rallying cry of solidarity among the oppressed in the great Roman slave revolt.

So, yes, the revolt against men’s sexual behaviour is a pretty big deal, and this is a view that receives interesting support when taking an ultra-broad perspective. By that I mean not just the most dramatic moments of history but also the very deep past, as studied by evolutionary biologist and anthropologist David Sloan Wilson. He feels society has reached one of those pivotal moments when a new norm is being created, and enforced much more strongly than before. Evolutionary theory, he reveals in a recent article, can tell us a lot about norms:

In any animal or human society, social status can be achieved in two ways: by physical intimidation or by cultivating a reputation as a cooperator. Status is taken in the first case and bestowed in the second case. In most animal societies, status is mostly of the taken variety. If overt bullying is rare, it is because the hierarchy was previously established and is no longer challenged. In most hunter-gatherer societies and many other small-scale human groups, status is mostly of the bestowed variety. Bullying doesn’t work because those being bullied have the collective power to resist.

The coming of agriculture and a rapidly growing population largely put paid to this benign power of collective resistance. Increasing competition over the land needed for cultivation led to territorial wars, and fighting them successfully meant people were obliged to give unquestioning allegiance to the warriors who became their chiefs and kings. These had to be incredibly ruthless, brutal characters in order to fight their way into the job. Thus they were definitely status takers. They did not go blathering on at  some job interview about how passionately they would work to alleviate the miseries of the poor in the hope of having status bestowed on themselves for being nice guys.

These tyrants, as they often were, could enslave whom they wished and make them compliant in all manner of ways, including sexually. The most legendary figures, such as Genghis Khan had no shame over cornering as many women as they could physically find the time and energy to screw; and they would slaughter hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in order to secure their domination. Rather than lowering their status, as rape and murder would today, these sociopaths used such crimes in order to cement their position at the very top of society.

They could do no wrong. Their word was law. A great sultan could have a huge harem with hundreds of concubines kept for his exclusive use. He would have hundreds of men castrated at his command to guard these women against more sexually potent rivals. Rulers could even defy with impunity the supreme taboo, against incest, with the royalty of ancient Egypt being just the most famous example among many. As for children being sexually off-limits, not a bit of it: the kings of Tonga took upon themselves the “duty” (poor things) of personally deflowering every virgin in the kingdom – and they did not wait until the child’s 16th birthday.

The change from the power of naked military might to the power of money that came with the growth of capitalism created a new class of status takers – a class that includes the Groper-in-Chief of the United States, Donald Trump. If the day comes when even this most truly Alpha of all males can no longer flout the rules with impunity, women will have good reason to celebrate. As Megan McArdle has written in a very reasonable article, men should not be vindictively punished for past deeds they may genuinely have thought at the time were acceptable; but only when the Trumps of the world get the message that they can no longer be status takers will we be sure progress has been made.

A David Sipress cartoon in The New Yorker is right on target.

Profound movement in this direction, fuelled from below, has been building gradually for several centuries now: rulers eventually needed the support of the people in order to raise finance for their wars, which they did through parliaments based on an ever-widening democratic franchise. This now includes women, who are increasingly becoming prime ministers and presidents. Business moguls, for their part, have begun to need a more educated, sophisticated workforce, with female as well as male participants, contributing organisational and creative talent rather than muscle. These are key features of modern society that are beginning to see powerful men somewhat cut down to size: once again, as in hunter-gatherer society, everyone is being made to play by the rules. And not just by paying lip service. Those who will be most successful in having status bestowed on them are the ones who truly take to heart the fact that they must win the hearts of sexual partners, not just drag them off by their hair like cartoon cavemen.

We kinds, at least those of us who have been successful with kids, have always understood this. Utterly powerless compared to parents, kind men (and some kind women) have always been obliged to win the friendship and high regard of children, rather than just taking sexually what we want. We have never, in modern times at least, been in any danger of feeling a misplaced sense of entitlement to kids’ bodies in the casual way that The Donald and so many other men evidently feel they have a right to grab any woman they fancy.

In itself, this is good. We should not feel entitled to others’ bodies, whether they belong to children or to adults. As we all know, though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing; or rather the good element, which in this case ensures that we are well-mannered seekers of bestowed status (and that we are truly kind in every sense), can all too easily be outweighed by less benign pressures. Instead of merely being constrained within entirely proper and necessary bounds of kindness, kind people are viciously oppressed. Our sexuality and reasonable aspiration towards loving relationships are crushed beyond all reason.

The way things are going, if extreme victim feminism becomes all-triumphant and men are in effect neutered, the consequences will be far more shattering for humanity than the mere hiccup that was the Russian Revolution. We kinds (including female ones) should thus feel a considerable degree of solidarity with men in general in these difficult times. While we should agree with the feminists that any sense of sexual entitlement is wrong and needs to be tackled, we should also join well-behaved men in facing down the anti-sexual zealots, for some of whom “feminazis” is not an unfair description.



Today’s blog, the first for nearly four months, comes as a bit of a surprise to me as much to anyone out there who has noticed the return of life to Heretic TOC. The news over these months has been as amazing and appalling as ever, with enough going on to justify at least a blog every week, but unfortunately I remain very busy with other things and cannot report that service will now be returning to normal.

On this one occasion, though, I have had a particular reason to break my silence. Well, two reasons really. There is the obvious one that the Weinstein Effect was crying out for comment. The other is that I wanted to do what I could to revive interest in Heretic TOC because a potentially very significant guest blog has been commissioned, and I don’t want to run it at a time when the readership has entirely buggered off elsewhere in despair of seeing much going on here. Be on notice, then, that a real event may be on the way. No promises, as I have yet to see a draft of the piece, but I certainly hope to in the near future.