The Phileas Club 97 – The Long Shadow of Weinstein


On this episode we talk about:

  • Opening monologue: Outrage Culture – the fuel of traditional and social media
  • The Weinstien scandal and reactions around the world
  • The Catalonia referendum
  • The Kurd referendum, and Women driving in Saudi Arabia
  • Peru possibly going to the World Cup

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  1. Hi Patrick,

    I am Dutch, even though my mother was a Basque Spaniard. I grew up mostly in Switzerland, but when I was young I spent most of my vacations in Catalonia. Later on, my family moved to Madrid, where I lived for five years. Although I currently live in Mexico, I am deeply saddened by the current events in Catalonia, as I have many good friends in Spain on both sides of the issue.

    I heard with interest your discussion about Catalonia in the latest Phileas Club episode. The fact is that several important issues were not discussed. The first one is obviously the Civil War and General Franco’s dictatorship. Many catalans still resent this period as an occupation and blame Madrid for it. As always, the truth is way more complex. Only three large cities resisted Franco’s coup until the end, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Madrid was as much as a victim of the war as was Barcelona. However, Catalonians don’t see it that way. Another problem is related to the stereotypes that appeared in the XIXth century. Catalonians were described as cosmopolite traders, while Madrid was perceived as a small (almost rural) city filled with unproductive civil servants. I think it is fair to say that Catalonians perceive themselves to be superior to other regions in Spain, much in the same way that Northern Italy believes that it works harder than its southern neighbors because they had a very strong industry at the dawn of the XXth century. Those stereotypes are extremely powerful and have been transmitted for generations fueling nationalistic aspirations. The fact is that today, Madrid has a stronger industry sector than Catalonia, but few care to analyze the facts. The stereotypes are strong and there is a strong belief that the lazy Spaniards rob Catalonians their money.

    None if what I have said before doesn’t mean that about 50% Catalonians do not have a strong true belief that they should be independent. They feel it in their gut. They feel that they are different, and in some ways they are. There is obviously the language, the food, some local folkloric dances and customs. The law in Spain accommodates those differences. For example, inheritance laws in Catalonia are significantly different from those in other parts of Spain. However, I think that it is fair to say that those differences are not stronger than what we can witness in Switzerland between those who speak French, German or Italian.

    The tragedy of this situation is that Catalonians who support independence are doing it because their guts tells them to. However, from an economic point of view, independence would be a disaster for both sides. Europe also stands to lose and that is why no foreign government is supporting the secession.

    There is also much to say about who supports independence in Catalonia today. The richest people in general are against it. The middle and upper-middle class generally favor it. Meanwhile, the poorest, people who emigrated to Catalonia in the 50’s and 60’s from other regions and their children, they are agains it. However, those living in agricultural regions are largely in favor. That means that the Catalonian society is heavily fractured and that is causing a lot of despair between friends and even family members. It is a true tragedy.

    • Thanks a lot for the details. I agree that I would have loved to have a Catalonian point of view on the show as well, and as I mentioned I did try and it just didn’t work out. Maybe we’ll have another opportunity at some point in the future. In the meantime, thanks a lot again for giving us a little bit more context; I’m quite certain it’s not as simple as we made it out to be indeed…

    • Franco Peschiera says:

      Hey Huibert,
      I completely agree with you: the catalan discussion is a very complex, delicate topic and it requires and deserves a lot more time, context and expertise to discuss it.

      Hopefully, this small and imperfect discussion will encourage someone with the expertise to take the time to explain the context in a special program dedicated to it, if possible.

      Thanks again for the comment.

  2. I disagree with idea that there is no such thing as racism against white people. Racism has nothing to do with power. It is more potent when accompanied by power for sure but to say it is not possible for there to be racism against white people is absurd.

    I would say the same applies as regards sexism.

    • Of course you would. 🙂

      • De Ruijter says:

        You may laugh, but I was horrified by the trivialization of women on men sexual harassment that I heard on this show. First you talk down to all men as if they are all stereotype Archie Bunker replica’s in a Mad Men world and then I’m practically hearing the gender inverse version of the Saudi victim-blaming situation that Turki was talking about next. I’m however guessing that when it’s Kevin Spacey’s men on men harassment, it’s all of a sudden a real problem again.

        I really didn’t think that with your normal balanced view you would purvey such a deeply unequal and conservative worldview which, for the sake of us who have been on the receiving end of this harassment, I hope you will realize is fundamentally erroneous in modern equalized societies béfore the pendulum of popular opinion (predictably for these glaring inequality issues) starts swinging back from this male gender discrimination and you become one the new backwards tea-party-people of our era working against their own interests.

        Moreover I don’t get how you think directly promoting this inequality and mob justice against men will get them more on board with gender equality … or paying for the show. You really should more consistently get someone, like a somewhat compatible Bill Maher or Thomas Frank or Jeremy Scahill, who will call you out (and actually curb your opinion like you’ve done with me a few times) because on these issues its now way to often a bunch well-to-do “progressive” elites enjoying the smell of their own farts. I’m more hearing what you would like to convey through social networks with your real name attached to prospective employers then what society is actually thinking.

      • I wouldn’t laugh about that. Let’s put it that way: I don’t think sexual harassment of males is trivial or imagined. Quite the contrary, I know it is very real and can be just as traumatic. The thing is, I don’t think it is as institutionalised and ingrained in our societies, so switching gears to that when we were trying to address sexual harassment against women (especially on a panel that already only had one woman) felt inappropriate, and like it would be diluting what we were trying to discuss.
        I will agree that we didn’t handle that aspect well, and maybe I should have explained this more clearly… But, you know, things don’t always exactly as you’d wished in retrospect on these shows. That being said, I do stand by the core of what we were saying: sexual harassment against women is a deeply engrained societal problem that most, if not all, women have to deal with on a nearly daily basis in more or less subtle ways. Sexual harassment against men is a traumatic event that will happen to some of us and should be addressed as well, but just like for racism where bringing up “racism against whites” just kind of cheapens and dismisses the discussions of racism against people of colour, I think when we decide to talk about sexual harassment (“against women”), that’s the topic we should stick to. And maybe we can talk about sexual harassment against men (and other types of sexual abuses) at another point.
        Hope this makes sense…

      • De Ruijter says:

        Maybe you spoke wrongly, maybe you spoke hastily and revealed your true intent. Before you have already indicated that you have difficulty seeing the other side on this topic. Personally I believe policy should be based on figures and if that means 90% of funding goes to women protection and 10% to men, based on societal statistics, that is fine. What you were implying was/is however that it should be 100% and 0% or that their equal stories somehow have unequal merit. A news report comes to mind about the women that founded the first women’s shelter in the UK being pushed out of her own organization, radicalized by her staff, because she simply wanted to admit a few battered men as well. Hence I was glad Franco Peschiera highlighted the absurdity of this situation but it almost seemed the rest didn’t want equality but full equity, on the most horrible of topics, where all men deserve to have their level of unacknowledged harassment/rape increase based on the unlawful actions of others in the past.

        Meanwhile you are ignoring, just like how there was a big shift in corruption accountability in the recent French national election or harassment accountability in Hollywood, women are rapidly obtaining full equality in Western societies and are even performing better in certain domains. The wage gap is not 50% but only a few highly debated percent. Moreover there are whole societally crucial professions
        that are mostly women. Like educators, or healthcare professionals, or HR specialists. If Trump would take over these key domains for his own special clique, Americans would be screaming bloody murder about a coup. Especially in these areas, where women have obtained a strong power base, the male harassment is quite clear and I personally was the subject of verifiable unwanted attention at the cost of grades and professional advancement. So I have no doubt that, as society becomes more broadly equal and women are less checked on their behavior due to their past structural disadvantagement, men will suffer significantly more structural harassment as well that deserves proper attention and recognition.

        I feel that however sometimes you have trouble looking at things in this long-term Realpolitik fashion because these ideas have not gained sufficient societal traction. It would however be a pity if this turns into another IPv6 adoption, or global warming, or inverted totalitarianism where the needed action only comes when it is way too late. Especially since the inability to address this issue has in turn already made it a feeding ground for highly destructive political demagogues.

      • Hmmm you seem pretty intent on painting me in a certain light, but I’ll try again: Franco was talking about a specific instance of butt pinching, which I thought didn’t warrant diverting us from the issue we were originally discussing: sexual harassment. I’ve already explained I thought we didn’t address that as well as we could, as I didn’t mean to dismiss the idea as a whole. If he had started talking about the fact that men get violated as well, I think it would have been a very different conversation, as I think it is obvious that men can be victims as well (and I don’t think anyone would argue against that).
        The point is that, as you say so yourself, it is a very lopsided issue, and women receive the vast majority of it; bringing up men in every conversation about women makes it seem they are equally victimized, which isn’t the case. It’s like bringing up racially motivated issues against whites when we are trying to talk about racism as a whole (which is obviously more of a concern for people of color): it derails and cheapens the conversation. It’s not untrue, but it’s just not the point, and it’s not the important part of the conversation we’re trying to have.
        Bottom line: I don’t know about specific numbers, but of course harassment prevention and help should include men too.
        I hope you believe me this time, because if you still choose not to I don’t know what else I can say to convince you.

      • You do a solid job with the show and on DTNS, but I guess on this topic we’re just going to disagree. Women are not inherently more susceptible by being a minority in society, they do not inherently live in a worse environment because they have no strong financial handicap as they come from all backgrounds and they are not inherently morally superior which in principle makes them just as likely to act given the right opportunity. Hence your racially based analogy is quite dubious in our supposed modern era of high gender equality and legal protections, which is also shown by for example by the big drop in rape cases within Western countries since the 1970s as compared to the never improved average wealth of African Americans. Instead modern cases seem much more to arise from people in general exploiting their (previous/temporary) individual positions of power.

        Meanwhile there are quite a few statistics as well as trends showing male sexual harassment (or worse) is also at a noticeable level and women have no problem exploiting their (newfound) positions of power:

        Moreover who knows how those statistics would turn out if all the Franco’s of the world would be reporting all that butt pinching as much as we hear all those women at Swedish festivals report such acts. A recent well-designed in-depth study in my own country for example showed that the gender separate numbers are much closer when you ask about specific types of harassment to take away the perception difference and use a transparent process as well as carefully chosen phrasing to circumvent the fear of reporting as well as processing double standards. Increased awareness about this gender gap in follow-up actions may even be a reason why male reports of harassment are on such a rise in certain countries over recent years. All in all it just seems highly conservative and antiquated to still be trapped in the “women are wonderful” effect and be caught off guard that strongly increased gender equality means increased equality on both positive and negative fronts. So purporting that there is a fundamental difference between men and women only seems to set us up for another problematic situation down the road.

      • So… Ok, I just want to make sure I understand this correctly: you’re saying that women face no prejudice or inequality?

      • De Ruijter says:

        I think we are both adults here, so nobody is saying that and we don’t need to constantly virtue signal that we are #iamwithher. Most people on this show were the ones folding men into the conversation without a sense of proportion and realism. The vast majority of men are not violent sexual abusers or violent abusers of any kind. And to sort of tar the whole male gender with this terrible problem, while ignoring their issues, is very unfair. Moreover, given your earlier New Left stances, I could even imagine there is more to making this identity politics topic such a focal point. I think a lot of people, even in the EU, are more worried about simply keeping their job and developing their skills, maintaining a certain level of control over their lives, keeping a decent roof over their heads, maintaining a livable neighborhood, being able to afford their fixed costs, building a family, etc. That the U.S.A. has a terrible environment for regular workers and that horrible people like Weinstein will exploit that to its fullest should come as no surprise, as shouldn’t that (like those poor people making your iPhone) there were enough women who found the cost acceptable to further their careers, but then maybe you should be talking about why our systems turns us into mere commodities without human dignity that way as well as why it imbues us with low self-efficacy to resist such treatment and why the f#$k the EU is trying to integrate with that Ayn Rand style American market even further through any transatlantic/Canadian trade-deal possible to force us further down to their level (after they wrecked our economies just a few years ago with merely the latest internally unreprimanded disaster produced by their inverted totalitarian system).

        Meanwhile the in-depth study that I was referencing shows that, when biases and unwanted filters are removed as much as possible, close to 50% of women face some form of sexual harassment as opposed 25% of men. So women are clearly still experiencing a significantly higher rate of harassment than men. Women are however seeing a continuing improvement in their situation, likely due to the increased attention and financial independence, while on the male-side a negative trend is observed. Moreover the absolute value for men is clearly already surprisingly high and the ratio not that lob-sided, maybe because of higher reporting or maybe because of a worsening situation, but it would be nice if this didn’t turn into another one of those “the pendulum swung too far the other way”-situations:

        As usual its however probably to much to ask to be realistic and pro-active about these developments. Just look at all the people giving away all their private data for a few trinkets or false security, while forcing the rest of us along in a horrible Big Brother nightmare. I guess in the end there is nothing left but to follow along with the new female reality, while ours continues in obscurity:

  3. Dmitry Cherednichenko says:

    Thank you for mentioning witch hunts. Would you consider what happens now to Kevin Spacey a witch hunt? It’s getting very easy to ruin one’s career — just accuse them of sexual harassment, no proof necessary.

    • I don’t know the details about the Spacey thing so I can’t really say one way or another, but yeah it can become easy if it gets out of hand. That being said, it seems like a small price to pay if the alternative is to let sexual harassment continue like it has been… We just need to remain vigilant and not succumb to panic (easier said than done, I know).

      • Dmitry Cherednichenko says:

        I agree, it’s healthy in general, though little comfort for one who gets wrongly accused, and it WILL happen sooner or later. Presumption of innocence is important. Regarding Spacey, there are now more accusations and the whole thing starts to look real.

  4. Hi Patrick,

    Great show as always!
    Two things came to my mind during my listening:
    – The pronoun “Hen” is seldom used in casual conversation or generally in Swedish, but it is very useful when it comes to official reports or the law. For instance, if a judgement is done regarding a case on labour law, the report of the judgement might not use the gender of the concerned people in order to avoid any biases.
    – The Weinstein scandal is a very welcome wake-up when it comes to sexual harassment regarding men towards women. It is very good that a minority can express itself on such a problem. On the other hand, I find it a bit weird to have a “women only concert”. Not only it promotes a bigger cleavage between boys and girls, but it also does not fix the situation. It is very akin as finding out that statistically poor people, or people from the spaghetti monster religion, or people with mustache (not to go into other stereotypes) tend to steal more in groceries, and you would therefore segregate them by blocking access to any supermarket. That is a clear “no no situation”! Usually, these problems can only be solved by understand the root (“why” or “because”) of the problem, providing education on the subject, or at least preventing the problems. Unless you believe that part of human nature is inherently bad.


    • Agreed on both counts! I can understand people (women) wanting a super duper safe environment for bit though, and wanting to be amongst themselves. If it’s just an occasional thing I don’t think we should be so upset about it… Kind of like the women only viewings of Wonder Woman. I get that. If it ever becomes a *real* problem (if it happens all the time) then we’ll address it, but for now I think we have better things to do than to dive into this really difficult problem and make it into what ultimately is really a pointless controversy… That was my reaction about the WW viewings after thinking on it for a bit.

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