If there’s anything we’ve learnt over the past few weeks, it’s that it’s dangerous to put things on pedestals. It is dangerous to assume that, because something seems cosy and familiar, because you have so much knowledge of it culturally and because it has been a reassuring presence throughout your life, it is safe and without suspicion.
I am talking, of course, about bathrobes.
Many of the men named as sexual predators in the last few weeks have tried to point the finger of blame elsewhere. Harvey Weinstein, in his public apology, blamed “the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behaviour and workplaces were different”. Kevin Spacey cited being gay as the reason he allegedly assaulted a minor, which is a little like saying your boiler is the reason you set your house on fire. A number of others, including Conservative MP Chris Pincher, have decided on amnesia, the fail-safe get-out-of-jail-free card usually used by soap-opera writers who are trying to get fired.
But what they and their publicists are missing is the common factor in all of these crimes: bathrobes. Yes, apart from the fact that they are all white, male and schooled to abuse their power the moment they come into even a tiny bit of it, the common factor in many cases is the humble robe.
Every actress who has been lured to Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room has mentioned this sartorial choice. The bathrobe has been mentioned so many times that we all have a very, very clear mental image of exactly what Harvey Weinstein looks like wearing it. We have all pictured opening the hotel door to find him standing there, looking like a plate of dim sum that has fallen on to a barbershop floor and then kicked around in hair, in that bathrobe. Likewise, Chris Pincher has been described by his accuser, Alex Story, as "in a bathrobe, like a pound shop Harvey Weinstein, with his chest and belly sticking out”.
Guys, if you’re really committed to blaming something other than yourself for your own terrible actions, don’t blame the era you were born in or the fact that you’re gay or amnesia. Go for broke. Blame the bathrobes. Commission a study about the scientific effect of bathrobes on men. Clarify that, while we previously thought that bathrobes were primarily for people to answer the door in when they’re too lazy to put pants on, they actually contain a very strong aphrodisiac. No, wait – a very strong aphrodisiac, a powerful hallucinogenic, a rare strain of rabies, a spoonful of ketamine and a pinch of angel dust. This is the reason you harassed and assaulted people you deemed to be less powerful than you. It wasn’t you – it was the bathrobe.
The bathrobe has been mentioned so many times that we all have a very, very clear mental image of exactly what Harvey Weinstein looks like wearing it.
When people question the validity of your study, double down. Petition for the removal of bathrobes from hotel rooms and shops that are unlicensed to sell bathrobes. Issue an apology for your actions, citing that you will now be reflecting on your misdeeds and working hard for the national eradication of bathrobes. Do not mention the victims. Hone in on the robes.
When people protest about their right to wear bathrobes, be openly appalled at their lack of concern for the safety of women. When interviewed about your fight against bathrobes, make sure to point out that it’s a nuanced issue and that many women have historically used the bathrobe system to their advantage. Go to rehab for your addiction to bathrobes. Find a well-respected male celebrity who has not been disgraced and get him to say that you are a victim of the robe, and a good guy besides. (Better still, get him to say that “as a father of daughters”.)
Once the fight is over and everyone is happy that bathrobes are the real enemy, and a couple of years have passed, and there are enough Women In Film panels to keep the feminists distracted for a while, and you have just won a Lifetime Achievement award for your work in film, invite a starlet to your hotel room. Open the door, wearing a bathrobe.
“Oh, this?” you say, when she looks surprised. “No – this is actually a dressing gown.”