Henry Cavill triggered a social media backlash over comments he made about how the #MeToo movement has changed the way he approaches dating.
In a new interview with GQ Australia, the Justice League actor, 35, revealed that in light of the recent movement, he was hesitant to pursue relationships with women for fear of being called “a rapist or something.”
“I like to think that I’ve never been like that,” Cavill remarked, before adding that it’s only natural to question yourself when putting your past under a microscope. “I think any human being alive today, if someone casts too harsh a light on anything, you could be like ‘Well, OK, yeah when you say it like that, maybe.”
While the actor went on to say “stuff has to change, absolutely,” he also spoke about how it’s important to “retain the good things, which were a quality of the past,” like chasing after women.
“There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice,” he remarked. “I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.”
“It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to called a rapist or something.’ So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and just go back to a relationship, which never really worked,” he continued.
Although he admitted putting himself in that situation wasn’t ideal, “it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell,” he explained.
“I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?” he added. “Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No’. It’s like, ‘OK, cool’. But then there’s the ‘Oh why’d you give up?’ and it’s like ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’”
Criticizing the Man of Steel star for his comments, several social media users pointed out that Cavill’s comments implied that many women couldn’t differentiate between flirtation and sexual harassment.
“#HenryCavill said in his @GQMagazine interview that the #metoo movement has made him nervous to flirt because he doesn’t want to be called a rapist. He is basically saying that women are so sensitive that they can’t even handle someone flirting with them. Superman can suck it,” wrote one social media user.
“Stop trying to derail the conversation by claiming #MeToo wants to ‘stop men ever talking to women’ or some bulls—,” wrote another. “If you don’t know the difference between politely asking someone out and sexually harassing them, you have a serious problem.”
Another Twitter user also pointed out that Cavill’s statement about how he only felt safe to flirt with ex-girlfriends didn’t make sense.
“Folks are going to gloss right over Henry Cavill saying that he’ll just go back to an ex instead of dating, where he might be called a rapist. You can rape people that you’ve consensually slept with before too, Hank,” they wrote. “Consent isn’t something that’s ‘grandfathered’ in.”
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However, not everybody thought Cavill’s comments were any cause for concern.
“So #HenryCavill admits to being afraid that any attempts to flirt could be misconstrued & clearly states he will stop as soon as they say “no” & then thousands of ppl jump on his comments & act like he’s actually committed sexual assault? You’re basically proving him right” wrote one social media user.
Wrote another: “Henry talking about being old fashioned and chasing women, obviously means pursuing/ courting them. Stop being disingenuous to suit your narrative. Y’all are trash. #henrycavill”