Louis Walsh and the power of the #MeToo movement

Louis Walsh – of X Factor fame – was added to the list of men accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era. He was caught groping and slapping Melanie B’s (Scary Spice’s) bottom. The incident itself occurred back in 2014, but it’s only been spotlighted recently. Even more shocking, however, is the fact that Walsh felt confident enough to do this on TV, while the cameras were rolling. The incident occurred in an interview between himself, his fellow X Factor judges (Mel B, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole) and Sarah-Jane Crawford. Even though he was surrounded by colleagues, he still decided to go for it.

This is exactly the kind of misconduct that the #MeToo movement has been trying to highlight. People have been abusing their positions of power because they know that they will face no repercussions. And he didn’t. After Louis slapped Mel’s behind, she asked Sarah-Jane to stop and questioned him.

“Why are you grabbing my butt?” she said, whilst being visibly uncomfortable.

Louis then responded in a most patronising manner.

“I’m looking out for Mel,” he said three times, before laughing it up after Cowell told Mel she was safe.

After that, Sarah-Jane promptly continued with the interview. Louis had felt-up a co-worker and subsequently faced no repercussions. The fact that Louis identifies as a gay man, showcases that such incidents of sexual misconduct have less to do with actual sexual gratification, but are more so about asserting power and dominance over others.

It’s a depressing fact that things like this occur every day around the world. But, hopefully, it’s happening less thanks to all the brave victims who have come forth in the #MeToo era.

The reaction to this video is very much proof that things do appear to be changing for the better. It went unnoticed for four years. Why has it only now picked up steam?

It may be due to changing societal attitudes towards sexual assault. Even the YouTube comments (which anyone familiar with the website knows are usually terrible – to put it mildly) were largely against Louis’ actions. One commenter, Khana Rose, simply said “this is sexual harassment”. She got over 2,200 likes.

Perhaps this shows that the #MeToo movement has been successful in waking up the world to the sexual abuse faced by many, particularly women. It is possible that four years ago, many people simply wrote this off as “harmless cheeky fun”. Nowadays we will no longer stand for that kind of behaviour.

Whether Louis will face any kind of punishment for this today is yet to been seen. As of writing this, he hasn’t made any comment on it. This incident does raise questions, however. What else have we missed? How many other similar events did we cast a blind eye to?

To be honest, the number is probably in the thousands, if not millions. It’s clear that previous generations had a very different definition of “acceptable” behaviour. Just watch any old movie or TV show made in the 60s or earlier and you’re sure to encounter a couple of questionable scenes.

Take the very famous James Bond film “Goldfinger” (1964) for example. In one scene, Bond and the primary love interest, Pussy Galore (that name could probably get its own article), are fighting in a barn. After a series of “hilarious” hijinks in the hay, both Bond and Galore end up on the barn floor. Bond then says: “Now, let’s both play”. He jumps towards Galore and attempts to kiss her. She tries to kick him away, and after that fails, she begins to shake her head to stop him from kissing her. All this occurs, while romantic music swells up in the background; informing the audience that this somewhat violent scene is actually supposed to be interpreted as “sweet”.

Thankfully, I think it is safe to say that if a scene like that were presented today, it would not provoke the same emotions. And we have activists, feminists and the brave victims who have stepped forward to thank for this. One can only hope that men like Louis – who abuse their position of power and privilege – are a dying breed.