Public apologies, just like personal ones, are meaningless
– if the apology doesn’t cleanly and directly say I regret what I did and I take responsibility for what happened. Own up. Or,
– if the apologizer isn’t using the apology as one step in a new commitment toward building a healthier self.
I have been worrying over what happens to the consent violators and sexual predators that in the cleansing light of the #MeToo movement have been treated to public shame. I do not advocate shame. Since they are still on the planet they are still part of our communities. What do we do with them? How long is long enough as Persona Unwanted? Do they ever have the right to come back as journalists, as corporate executives, as movie producers, and as fathers and husbands? These are the questions that I am hearing on the news. As I said there is no second planet to put them on so let’s think through what real apologizing/seeking redemption might look like.
There has to be acknowledgment of what happened. There has to be acknowledgment of harm done. The apologizer must ask about what is needed. Yes, ask us, your community. Ask Men’s Work-kind of organizations if you are male. Listen to healthy-minded men who are doing the hard work of transforming male culture for the better. If the apologizer does not even think to ask about what positive actions that they can take then there is no commitment to reform.
TELL THEM: Do NOT surround yourself with males who are bent on minimizing what happened. Whether you are male or female do NOT listen to those inner voices that are telling you that you didn’t do anything wrong.
Perhaps, you believe that violating someone else’s rights and someone’s trust wasn’t a big deal. You were just having a good time. Why are we blowing things up. Why does Friday night’s good time mean I have to lose my job? Check for minimizing thoughts. They always mean a lack of commitment to taking responsibility for what you did.
Perhaps, you believe that violating someone’s rights and their trust isn’t a big deal.
To this day, the person I was married to tells himself that he is not responsible for anything he did. I made him crazy, i.e. he brutalized me and our children for long years. Okay, then. He and other perpetrators still walk among us. We must think about reform.
All those years of feeling a strong entitlement of power over other people created a particular way of doing life. Society as a whole made the enculturation that fueled these people who need to apologize. We, their community, need to offer professional assistance to help them.
Minimizing also looks like saying you won’t do it again. Yes, you will. You’ve been violating women for years.
As we’ve seen, their reactions have everything to do with having been shamed and held accountable. They’ve lost jobs, income, and prestige. They feel stunned by their losses. They are still thinking of themselves, not others. A real apology would be motivated by the realization that they had harmed women. Apologies are direct effects from wake up calls to the horror and terrible meaning of what they did.
An apology can be one tiny step toward building a healthier self.
Because they feel the way they do about women they behaved in the devaluing way that they did. It stands to reason that they have work to do to get to a healthier place on the inside. Just as we, their community, are judging them by their actions it is their actions over time that will assure us that they’ve changed.
So, please, tell them to find a good psychotherapist and get started.
There are plenty of wonderful therapists out there who can “get in the mud” with violators. That’s a quote from a therapist friend of mine. Therapists have no need to heap more blame on. Instead, psychotherapists are aimed at healing. They like to help their clients to clear the root causes that brought about undesirable behavior.
This is a great time for psychotherapists to step up as teachers. They can teach the art of how to apologize and mean it.
Our society has for many, many generations heaped blame and shame on women each time that they reported the reprehensible behavior of some men. Women as well as men have been known to viciously close down the lone testimony of an injured woman. Being silenced meant being harmed a second and third time. Today, women are being listened to and employers are responding differently to where the line should be drawn for what is civil behavior. We can make very different choices about how to deal with our violators. Society can only benefit.
We know that a particular comic and several high-profile journalists and many businessmen have been harassing or attacking or otherwise hurting women for years. It is then reasonable to insistent on years and years of healthy, transformed behavior going forward. I want to hear that Louis and Charlie and Matt have become known for years and years of dedicated volunteerism. The news won’t be reporting their work toward positive masculinity and improving the lives of women and children because such behavior will be considered normal. Let’s see and feel their apologies via their consistently kind and loving acts toward others.
©2018 Aisha-Sky Gates Copying my blog posts is allowed if kept unaltered and proper accreditation is given.