Insincere Apologies

Matt Lauer is “embarrassed and ashamed” and has, “no words to express my sorrow and regret” for the pain he caused women he now professes to admire. Lauer said, “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized…” and “I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish.

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Russell Simmons experienced, “great anguish” when he learned how Jenny Lumet recalled a night with Simmons in 1991. He made clear in his so-called apology that he’d, “never been violent” but had been, “thoughtless and insensitive” in many relationships over decades and, “humbly apologized.”

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Harvey Weinstein is, “trying to do better” and has hired a tutor to assist him in that effort. He spoke of the culture when he came of age in the 60’s and 70’s when we are to assume that everyone was doing it. He’s since learned, “that’s not an excuse.”

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Roy Moore and Donald Trump both claim to be victimized by the dozens of women that have come forward with all too similar tales. They say the women are all liars.

There are two narratives being pushed that I find fault with. The first is that we should feel the pain of these men who have been hurt so badly by their own actions. Except for Mark Halperin who claims to have realized he had a problem while he was at ABC News, got treatment, and didn’t repeat his behavior according to him. None of the rest seemed to be experiencing any of the overwhelming guilt, pain, and anguish, until the day their stories were made public. Their actions demonstrated a total lack of concern for the women then and their self-serving shaping of the stories show they don’t care now. These men are not to be pitied, but ostracized and in some cases jailed.

The second narrative is that this is primarily the province of powerful men. Bosses and those with great sway in close-knit industries. Sexual assault, pedophilia, harassment, rape statutory and otherwise, is more widespread than the narrative would have you believe. Those that mumble, “I believe the women” while demonstrating that they do not are trying to be seen as the solution but are part of the problem.

While the account of the relative, a family friend, co-worker, pastor, teacher, is always considered to have more credibility than the woman or child, this will go on. As hard as it is to speak out against powerful people, it is no less hard to speak out against those whose only power is that they gain from abusing you.

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One of the constant deflections used to defend the accused is the time elapsed since the harassment or abuse. “Why didn’t they come forward then instead of waiting?” They suggest their stories would have been more believable had they been contemporary. The truth is, women weren’t believed when the events were 40 years old, 4 years old, or 4 days old. In addition to the apologies of those who committed these heinous offenses, maybe society owes the women an apology for refusing to believe them nearly enough.

Originally published at: Medium@WilliamSpivey

Donald Trump: #HimToo

When Mark Halperin went to work on Monday he was riding high. By the end of the week, he’d lost his cable news gigs, had a major book deal canceled along with an HBO miniseries, and been disavowed by friends and employers after several women came out and accused him of sexual harassment.

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It began with anonymous allegations reported Wednesday on CNN. Halperin issued a statement denying the specifics of the allegations but then more women came out including one publicly. Halperin responded with a statement, “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me. I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.” In can certainly be disputed that he “stepped back” because he was certainly fired in most cases. He still, of course, must explain all this to the girlfriend he lives with.

This comes on the heels of Harvey Weinstein who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual assault ranging from unwanted touching, forcing them to watch him masturbate, and rape. Weinstein has been fired by the company that bore his name and multiple law enforcement agencies around the globe are looking at possible prosecution. Many of the women that accused him are famous, some because of Weinstein. Some we’ve never heard of and Weinstein had a role in that too. Because of his stature in Hollywood, the spotlight on him has swept up his partners and associates whose behavior is being questioned like Ben and Casey Affleck and others who at least knew and said nothing.

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For at least a couple news cycles, bad behavior by men is being highlighted and with some consequences. Congress has threatened investigation, but their own rules require accusers to undergo months of counseling and mediation before filing a lawsuit. If a settlement does take place, it’s paid from a special US Treasury Fund and not the pockets of the accused. Between 1997 and 2014, the Treasury paid settlements to 235 people in the amount of $15.2 million for “workplace violations” including sexual assault and harassment.

The message that corporations, Congress, Hollywood, and others are trying frantically to send to women is that “we hear you!” Sexual harassment and assault are no longer to be accepted and offenders will quickly be dealt with. Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, and Harvey Weinstein were rich men with power and were taken down. Bill Cosby will be undergoing a second trial. Things are better now, and everything can go back to normal. We might even believe that if not for that glaring exception, Donald Trump.

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To date, Donald Trump has been accused by at least 13 women (and one 13-year-old child) of sexual harassment and even rape. His money and power have apparently been enough to ward off his critics. His business relationships with people like Mark Burnett who before being recently named President of the MGM Television and Digital Group, was the Executive Producer for Trump’s, “The Apprentice.” Several people have reported taped incidents while on the set of Trump engaging in boorish behavior and harassing women. Burnett refuses to release the tapes, so we’re left with the tape we know exists where Trump admits to sexual assault and his ability to, “grab women in the pussy” because he’s a star.

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Twitter has a hashtag trending called, #HimToo where women are calling out men who have abused them and for various reasons felt they could say nothing. For those adding names to the list. Don’t forget Donald Trump, for if he’s allowed to exist, others will remain as well. There are things we can do if you aren’t willing to accept Donald Trump bragging about his abuse with no penalty and others who have abused their power to assault women. Pressure can be applied to Burnett. MGM Studios and NBC to release the Trump tapes. We can demand Congress update it’s 1995 rules that protect themselves as opposed to the women (and boys) who need protection from them. We can never again elect a known predator to any office. And we can name Trump and others for what they are, #HimToo!