We were supposed to pay a lot more attention to Henry Cavill. You know, he’s Superman. And look at him. He’s Ken-doll handsome. He’s British. Did I mention he’s Superman? Over the last two years, every time we’ve posted here on this site about Henry Cavill, it’s about his moustache. Do you care about Henry Cavill? He’s in Mission: Impossible – Fallout with Tom Cruise coming out in a couple of weeks. The press tour is now starting. And Henry’s featured in GQ Australia and the interview is… well… it’s boring. Most of it is boring, and we’re told that it’s boring because he intends it to be boring. His manager sits in on the interview. He offers up a lot of platitudes. The entire article becomes about the writer’s, Adam Baidawi, experience of trying to interview Henry Cavill, which ends up being much more entertaining than Henry Cavill himself.

There is something that Henry does open up about though: Henry does talk about dating and relationships, ostensibly because he wants you to know how date-able he is, how great it would be to be in a relationship with him. Here’s how that works out – and I’m excerpting the flow of how that discussion is presented for full context: 

I ask Cavill what he’s learned from the #MeToo moment we’re in. “I’ve been fortunate enough to not be around the kind of people who behave that way,” he says. “To my memory there’s been no moments where I look back and think, ‘Ooh, OK, maybe someone shouldn’t have gone through that’. I know there have been situations with people I’ve worked with being perhaps overfamiliar with some of the actresses. But, I’ve always walked up to them and said, ‘Hey, are you all right? That’s creepy’.”

Have the revelations made you reflect on your own behaviour with women? “I like to think that I’ve never been like that. 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.’

“But it’s such a delicate and careful thing to say because there’s flirting which, for example, in a social environment is in context – and is acceptable. And that has been done to me as well, in return.”

“Stuff has to change, absolutely,” he adds, addressing men’s behaviour. “It’s important to also retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things.

“There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. 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 be called a rapist or something’. So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked’. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?

“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?’”

Deep sigh, all together now. 

For f-ck’s sake, nobody is saying that flirting has to stop. Nobody is going to arrest you for flirting. Flirting and harassment are two different things. Conflating the two is part of the problem. And conflating the two because you’re making this conversation about yourself is another goddamn problem. That’s what the red flag is here. And not just here either. Over the last few years, as more and more people are talking about consent, as #MeToo enlightens us all about problematic behaviours, the point is that we all have to pay more attention, that we all have to listen and observe and grow and change. What could possibly be the downside? 

The people who do see a downside are the ones reacting the way Henry is here – but what about me?!? Who said it was about you, you f-ckwit?! We are out there telling you that, at best (!), it’s been gross for us and at worst, it’s been dangerous for us. And if one of your responses to that is to be all like, oh no, now I can’t flirt anymore, you’re centering the issue around how sh-tty it’s going to be for YOU and not how sh-tty it’s been FOREVER for so many others, mostly women! Which is why he completely misses the upside. 

You know what the upside is? And, in my opinion, the only side? The upside is that all of this awareness makes us more present in our romantic pursuits, it makes us more conscious and considerate when we’re flirting – or, as Henry Cavill puts it, when we’re “wooing and chasing” (ugh). Anything that’s given more consideration leads to more understanding, anything that requires us to be more present, leads to more satisfaction, both physically and emotionally. In other words, better and stronger relationships. So reframing it as anything other than that, to me, is an active refusal to improve. Don’t we all want to improve? 

For more on Henry Cavill in GQ Australia, click here