Ben Affleck Calls for Men to Take Accountability Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims
Ben Affleck spoke out about the sexual misconduct scandals that have been making headlines in recent weeks during an appearance on Thursday's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Ben Affleck is hoping the onslaught of sexual harassment and assault allegations coming out against people like movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, director Brett Ratner, actor Kevin Spacey and even himself make men more accountable for their actions and more aware of the obstacles women have to face.
The 45-year-old Justice League star spoke out about the sexual misconduct scandals that have been making headlines in recent weeks during an appearance on Thursday’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, admitting that they have opened his eyes.
“I thought I had a sense of the scope of the problem and I thought I understood it and the truth is, I really didn’t,” Affleck said. “I didn’t understand what it’s like to be groped, harassed, to be interrupted, talked over, paid less, pushed around, belittled — all the things that women deal with that for me, as a man, I had the privilege of not having to deal with.”
“Part of this, for me, has been listening to people that I care about and love as they tell me stories of stuff that’s happened to them (this is men and women) and realizing this is a real thing,” Affleck continued. “I’m not a spokesperson, I’m not a superhero, I can’t change it by myself. I can just be accountable for myself and for my actions.”
Affleck took accountability for his actions in October, when One Tree Hill star Hilarie Burton claimed Affleck groped her when she was a host of MTV’s TRL. “I didn’t forget,” the 35-year-old actress wrote on Twitter of the alleged 2003 incident, sharing a clip of TRL outtakes that had Burton recalling the time Affleck “[came] over and [tweaked] my left boob.” Later in the video, the actor is shown asking her, “How old are you — 19?”
In response, Affleck apologized to Burton on Twitter saying, “I acted inappropriately towards Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”
He recalled the situation to Colbert, pointing out how men have to support women in these situations.
“What I was accused of by a woman was touching her breast while I gave her a hug. I don’t remember it but I absolutely apologize for it,” Affleck said Thursday. “I certainly don’t think she’s lying or making it up. It’s just the kind of thing we have to — as men, I think, as we become more aware of this — be really, really mindful of our behavior and hold ourselves accountable. And say, ‘If I was ever part of the problem, I want to change and be part of the solution.’ ”
“I think the most important thing to do is support the voices coming forward, believe them, and create a business where more women are empowered and in place so less of this happens and so there is a way of reporting this stuff that people can feel safe doing,” he added.
As for Weinstein, who has since been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women, Affleck said that it was “awful” and “hideous” to “see the extent of these terrible crimes.”
“I hadn’t worked for Harvey for more than 15 years, but nevertheless I felt this attachment to him with movies like Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love and Chasing Amy and some of the early movies that I really loved doing when I still was totally brand new,” Affleck said. “It sort of tainted that to realize that while we were having this experience and making these movies, there were people that were suffering and dealing with awful experiences. I didn’t really know what to do with that.”
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Following in friend and former director Kevin Smith’s footsteps, Affleck made the decision to donate all future profits from Harvey Weinstein-produced films to charities like anti-sexual assault organization RAINN and arts organization Film Independent (F.I.). “Just because I didn’t sort of want to cash a check for the guy and I thought, maybe I could feel good about it if it’s going to a good cause,” Affleck said.
Previously, Affleck had spoken out against Weinstein, saying on Facebook, “I am saddened and angry that a man who I worked with used his position of power to intimidate, sexually harass and manipulate many women over decades.”
He added, “The additional allegations of assault that I read this morning made me sick. This is completely unacceptable, and I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others. We need to do better at protecting our sisters, friends, co-workers and daughters. We must support those who come forward, condemn this type of behavior when we see it and help ensure there are more women in positions of power.”