Superman actor Henry Cavill has apologised for claiming that the #MeToo movement has left him scared to date women for fear of being "called a rapist".
In a statement, Cavill addressed the "confusion and misunderstanding" over his GQ interview.
"Insensitivity was absolutely not my intention", he continued, confirming he holds women in "the highest regard".
The comments sparked both empathy and anger online.
What did Cavill originally say?
The British actor made the outspoken comments during an interview with GQ Australia, as part of his promotional activities for Mission Impossible: Fallout.
When asked how #MeToo affected him, Cavill said that while society "had to change" regarding the treatment of women, the altered landscape has left him feeling unsure about "chasing a woman".
"I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I'm old-fashioned for thinking that," he admitted.
"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,'" he continued.
"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?"
'Absurd' or 'unspoken truth'?
The comments proved divisive on social media - while many were quick to attack Cavill for his "absurd " views, a number of men echoed Cavill's sense of confusion.
Much of the criticism focused on the way he appeared to conflate asking a woman out with committing sexual assault.
This is absurd. If Henry Cavill doesn’t want to be called a rapist then all he has to do is... not rape anyone.— Helen Price (@HelenRPrice) July 11, 2018
The mental gymnastics some men are doing to position themselves as “victims” of #MeToo is insane. pic.twitter.com/nafnZiaXGH
Grace Petrie also attacked Cavill's belief that a woman "should be chased".
Today it’s Henry Cavill with “I believe women should be chased”— Grace Petrie 100% Official Tweets (@gracepetrie) July 12, 2018
When did the notion that being chased is a *pleasant* feeling become so universally accepted? pic.twitter.com/z6kQnCzVrF
But others felt that the Man of Steel actor, rather than speaking maliciously, had simply used a poor choice of words, and called for a more considered response.
"I like to think I know what he meant," wrote Rhonda.
#henrycavill oh dear. Very poor choice of words. I like to think I know what he meant. Replace chased with court. Maybe say, the #metoo movement has affected the way I approach women. Has made me question my actions. Unsure of how my intentions will be perceived. Sound Better?— Rhonda En Route (@RhondaWoman) July 12, 2018
Others expressed support for Cavill's comments, arguing the #MeToo movement had turned dating into a "minefield", particularly for Hollywood stars navigating a post-Weinstein era.
Time for a wildly unpopular opinion. I agree with almost everything Henry Cavill said in his interview with GQ. He expressed fears of dating, and how movements such as #MeToo have made it incredibly difficult for men in the public eye to date, because at this point... (1/4)— Ben Hesketh (Nyxara) (@BenTHesketh) July 12, 2018
Usually don't talk about politics much, however i have to state that i agree with #henrycavill on the nonsense of the #metoo movement woman are over exaggerating in alot of cases. Also abusing the system for attention. Just my opinion.— “baby face” Bobby Bemer (@bobbybtv) July 12, 2018
To be honest I agree with Henry Cavill what he said is true (people are too stupid and too quick to judge unfortunately that is the unspoken truth of Humanity) https://t.co/ZFgADxwYc0— Steve (SR14) (@SonicRenegade14) July 13, 2018
Elsewhere, others, including Twitter user Rulian, called for a more nuanced debate, in which rational voices do not get "drowned out".
About Henry Cavill Comment - We live in a world where all nuance in a debate is dead. Rational voices get drowned out. Unfortunately, if your actions are left up to other people's interpretations, they will be judged as the worst & most extreme definitions.— Rulian (@RulianCo) July 12, 2018