“This week, we’ve seen examples of powerful men at the highest levels of entertainment and politics, from Harvey Weinstein to Donald Trump, abusing their power to silence, bully, or coerce. And it’s a reminder that our toxic culture of male entitlement is still very much intact.”
I agree with that statement, but I never expected to hear it come from the mouth of a male late-night comedian. Yet that’s exactly how Late Night’s Seth Meyers opened his latest “Closer Look” segment on October 12, before launching into a 10-minute monologue about how “powerful, predatory men who are used to operating without consequence” are making things worse for everyone around them, just because they can.
Meyers started by digging into Trump’s recent attacks on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, saying that the president’s constant negation of her work in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico is “what male entitlement looks like: a woman of color literally wading through flood water to help her constituents [and] being attacked by a powerful man so incompetent, he probably floods his own bathroom because he forgets to turn the faucet off.” The fact that Trump feels totally comfortable making baseless attacks, Meyers explained, is because his powerful status has meant he’s never had to deal with real consequences for his words or actions.
The host then pivoted to Weinstein, the formerly unstoppable Hollywood mogul who has now been publicly accused of sexual harassment and assault by almost 30 women. “The entire ordeal is yet another window in the entitled mind of powerful, predatory men who are used to operating without consequence,” Meyers said. “There is no doubt that this horrifying story reveals yet again a culture of systemic misogyny that exists at the highest levels of society.”
And to those conservative commentators who have seized upon the Weinstein scandal as a sterling example of liberal hypocrisy, Meyers emphasized that “this should not be a partisan issue. It requires all of us to speak out and ask ourselves what we can do to address it.”
Meyers also singled out Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka — who suggested that Weinstein should have followed Vice President Mike Pence’s rule of not being alone with a woman who’s not his wife — and could barely contain his disbelief.
“Can’t believe I have to say this,” Meyers said, “but you should be able to be alone with a woman and not sexually assault her. Women should not be held accountable for the predatory behavior of men. This is a problem. Men need to speak up and address their complicity in the system that allows this to happen.”
To be clear: Meyers is far from the only person calling out systemic sexism right now. Women have been doing it forever. But the Late Night host appears to understand something sad yet crucial about how he can use his platform for good: The men who need to hear these difficult truths may be more likely to listen to Meyers than to the many women who have been repeating them for years.