opinion

From Weinstein to Burke, we are witnessing the end of The Dirty Old Man. 

Harvey Weinstein. Charles Waterstreet. Dustin Hoffman. Jeffrey Tambor. Bill Cosby. Woody Allen. Terry Richardson. President Donald Trump. George H.W. Bush.

Don Burke.

All are powerful men accused of sexual misconduct.

The Dirty Old Man has, for a long time, run the world.

On this bonus episode of Out Loud, Holly, Rachel and Jessie discuss Don Burke and ask the question – what happens next?

The Dirty Old Man sits in the boardroom, and on a tattered stool in front of a flashing pokie machine.

The Dirty Old Man sits in the White House, and on a street corner, yelling profanities at women walking by.

The Dirty Old Man appears on our television screens, and alongside us on the bus, and next to us in the supermarket.

He slaps women on their rear as they walk past, laughing along with young men who guiltily think to themselves, “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to get away with anything…”

But sometimes, The Dirty Old Man isn’t even especially old.

Louis C.K. played the part of the lewd older man – a ‘creep’ who is not at all ashamed to hide it. Kevin Spacey fits the bill.

louis ck narrative flipped
Louis C.K. Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

They are characterised almost as a victim of their own sexual and obscene preoccupations - a comic staple, while also being a rather tragic one.

The Dirty Old Man is the ultimate embodiment of 'I Don't Give A F*ck' grabbing what he wants and saying what no one else would dare to.

He was referenced in Roman times, and now sits inside golf clubs on Saturday afternoons, asking the bar tender if her breasts are real.

Perhaps he feels emasculated, not able to get the attention from women as easily as he once could. We live in a culture that represents anyone who is not stick thin, able-bodied and in their 20s as sexless, and maybe this is his way of 'I am still a sexual man'.

There is something desperate, something pathetic and something awfully sad about The Dirty Old Man. And that might just be the most dangerous thing about him.

No one wants to hurt him, you see.

He just comes from a different time, women (and men) reason. He's probably... losing it a bit. He might be grey, and wears his belt a little too high, and he has children and a wife.

That, we think, is not what a sexual predator looks like.

But the reign of The Dirty Old Man is coming to an end.

The laughter is slowly morphing into silence. The woman who once blushed and sat in the bathroom alone, humiliated, is telling somebody. And for the first time - in all of history - we are listening.

He was never funny and his advances towards unsuspecting women were never flattering, or truly harmless.

But what was a woman to do?

After all, The Dirty Old Man runs the world.

Today, however, The Dirty Old Man was told it is not his world to run anymore.

And if women continue to propel this revolution - as fiercely and as bravely as they have been - then soon the world will look very, very different.