The A-list actor has maintained a massively popular social media presence, despite his often-overlooked history of mistreating women.
As a regular Twitter user, I've been forced to look at Ben Affleck's face a lot lately.
We gotta hand it to him: the actor, known for films like Gone Girl and Good Will Hunting, has a very memeable presence. He's a master of rather despondent cigarette smoking, which has led to a plethora of hilarious reaction photos over the years. Throughout the pandemic, he was nary seen without a Dunkin' coffee in hand — or spilled over his front doorstep — like the true Massachusetts man he is (watch out, Charli).
And ever since Affleck split with his wife of over a decade, Jennifer Garner, in 2018, his love life has been an especially hot topic. At the beginning of 2021, his romance with Knives Out star Ana de Armas came to an end, and he's been coping with it in a totally healthy and normal way: by hanging out with his ex-fiancee, Jennifer Lopez, and by using elites-only dating app Raya.
Buzz around Affleck's alleged Raya presence began after a podcaster named Nivine Jay posted a TikTok that subsequently went viral across social media. "Thinking of the time I matched with Ben Affleck on Raya and thought it was fake so I unmatched him and he sent me a video on Instagram," she captioned the TikTok, including the clip Affleck sent her: "Nivine, why did you unmatch me?" he said. "It's me."
Sorry Ben 🥺🥱 #raya #benaffleck #dating #fyp
Understandably, Affleck's video drew a lot of attention. It can be very funny to see an extremely famous actor with multiple A-list exes in the depths of romantic rejection! (Stars: they're just like us!)
But what the collective has seemed to completely overlook is that Affleck has been accused of sexual misconduct on numerous accounts. Back in 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, it had resurfaced that actress Hilarie Burton alleged that Affleck "tweaked her left boob" during a 2003 appearance on TRL Uncensored. (He briefly apologized on Twitter.)
Shortly after Burton's allegations surfaced, makeup artist Annamarie Tendler Mulaney — wife of comedian John Mulaney — accused Affleck of groping her at a Golden Globes party in 2014. Fellow party attendees said this was not a one-time thing for Affleck, an anecdote that gives his video message to Nivine Jay an even creepier tone.
Affleck has tried to polish his image in light of the allegations. He spoke publicly against Harvey Weinstein, and pledged to donate any further profits associated with the disgraced producer to charity. While the effort is admirable, the level to which we've memed Affleck despite credible evidence that he's serial assaulter is incredibly disconcerting.
Affleck's video to Nivine Jay is a clear example of the sense of entitlement that's abundant among white men in power. "Why did you unmatch me? It's me," shouldn't come off as cute and dweeby; it's manipulative, and should be a red flag that Affleck still feels he has an inherent right to access any woman he wants.
What's worse is, after the video started making the rounds on Twitter, how unconcerned people seemed to be. "Obsessed with Ben Affleck as a concept," Twitter user @jessf_white wrote. "I love Ben Affleck," comedian Nicole Byer tweeted in response to the clip. Another user commented: "Why would she make this video? I get it, he's a celebrity and she wants to show off and she also wants to show off how pretty she is (which she is) but she just looks thirsty!"
While some Twitter users vocalized their disdain for Affleck, the general consensus among women seemed to be in his defense, aghast that Nivine Jay missed her opportunity to sleep with an A-list celebrity regardless of his reputation. It's reminiscent of John Mayer's dumbfounding appearance at the Grammys this year despite an extensive history of sexism and racism, which tainted the award show's attempts to be more progressive.
We're not arguing that Affleck should be banned from Hollywood, but it's horrifying that he's become a Twitter sweetheart. Please, let's move on.