From the start, the #MeToo movement has made Bill Maher deeply uncomfortable.
The Real Time host suggested that married men harass women at work “because they have shitty sex lives.” He chalked up sexual assault to male “laziness.” And he has consistently defended his friend Al Franken, who was forced to leave the Senate while the much “worse” offender, Donald Trump, gets to remain in the White House.
So Maher was eager and excited to welcome onto his show Friday night New York Times editor and opinion writer Bari Weiss, one of several women who defended comedian Aziz Ansari and condemned his accuser last month, arguing that #MeToo may be starting to go too far.
“Yes, Mr. Ansari is a wealthy celebrity with a Netflix show. But he had no actual power over the woman—professionally or otherwise,” Weiss wrote in her January column. “And lumping him in with the same movement that brought down men who ran movie studios and forced themselves on actresses, or the factory-floor supervisors who demanded sex from female workers, trivializes what #MeToo first stood for.”
Sitting beside Maher, Weiss acknowledged that the #MeToo movement is “long overdue.” But, she added, “The hard left is basically saying it’s OK if a few innocent men go down with the ship if that’s what it takes to bring down the patriarchy. They hate zero tolerance on the right when it comes to drug policy but they love zero tolerance when it comes to sexual misconduct.”
Talk about an argument tailor-made for Bill Maher.
The host expressed the concern that the lesson men are learning from the movement is to “just shut up.” Because when they do speak out, as someone with ostensibly good intentions like Matt Damon has done, they are accused of saying the “wrong” thing. “When you’re wrong even when you say the right thing, then I feel like a husband,” Maher said to groans and a smattering of applause.
While Maher deliberately decided not to blame the “majority” of millennials for this trend, he does believe a faction of them are responsible. “I think it’s the upper-middle-class kids who grew up screaming at their parents and that was OK,” he said. “And they are just so fucking fragile––excuse me––and I think of them as emotional hemophiliacs and the rest of us have to be so careful around them.”
With “the first #MeToo Valentine’s Day” coming up this week, Maher asked, “Who knows what to write in the card?” Then, he added, “You can make anything 100 percent safe. A police state, they always say, is the safest place to live. But you’re in a police state. We don’t want to do that with love.”