Northern Florida – Joe Jarvis writes in the Daily Bell, “A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power.” Fittingly, Kevin Spacey’s character Frank Underwood repeats this quote – attributed to different historical figures – in the show House of Cards. Now Spacey is one of the exiled Hollywood #MeToo offenders. And rightfully so. If the accounts of his behavior are accurate, Kevin Spacey is a pretty big creep. He seems to have made a number of clearly unwanted sexual advances on young men and even young teens. I think everyone agrees that there is a line when the power dynamic in sexual relationships becomes so far out of whack that it is hard to tell if the whole thing is truly consensual, or rather exploitative. But isn’t where to draw that line always the problem?
Jarvis continues, “I was reading a Hollywood Reporter article about Woody Allen’s sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl back in the ’70s when he was 41. The young woman was dining out at the same upscale restaurant as Allen. She was an aspiring model, dining out with a male acquaintance. When she came back from the bathroom, she dropped a note with her phone number on Woody Allen’s table. Now, she still resists revising her own history to fit the norms of the times. She initiated contact. She was a voluntary and eager participant. And the relationship actually lasted eight years, until she was 24 years old. Any past relationship will have some bitterness to it, but she still described it generally as formative and positive.
Jarvis goes on, “And then the Hollywood Reporter article throws in a line in parentheses, ‘Most experts would contend that such an uneven power dynamic is inherently exploitative.’” Jarvis responds, “I get it, here is a non-famous 16-year-old girl and a famous, rich, 41-year-old man. Clearly, the power dynamic is not equal. But inherently exploitative?” (The Daily Bell – Joe Jarvis at Thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/theres-no-such-thing-as-equality-in-sexual-relationships) [Editor’s note: A Baltimore OUTloud staffer asks, “Wouldn’t that mean that any billionaire can only date other billionaires?”]