It seems that lately there’s a spate of people being outed in national and social media outlets for their hyperaggressive and disgusting harassment of women.
Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Ben Affleck, Mark Halperin — heck, even former president George H.W. Bush has been found out.
For the most part, each of these people have offered apologies, but I have to wonder if this is more because they’ve been caught, and not because of their sincere contrition.
Because I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around how someone can be so demeaning, I had a discussion with my sister-in-law about this, and it was pretty enlightening, particularly about the fact that this has been prevalent for pretty much ever.
Women have been given short shrift in all aspects of life — things like the casting couch, or the “dictation” required by office managers and the like — and society has treated this kind of behavior as relatively normal.
So when I read stories about how these people have offered apologies, my initial question was, “Does that really mean anything?”
Her response was a pretty emphatic no. And I fully agree.
If you have a person who has exhibited horrific behavior for decades to suddenly say “my bad” is height of disingenuity. It wasn’t a mistake, it was purposeful, and purposefully meant to be demeaning.
This is because it was done from a position of power, and that a simple whim could mean the difference between success or destruction for someone who simply was looking to fulfill a dream. I cannot fathom how anyone can treat another human being like a commodity and then suddenly be apologetic.
I guess it stems from not being able to fathom how anyone can treat people other than as equals in the first place. Someone else’s life is not mine to push around as so many pieces on a game board; they are equal beings full of potential and emotion and just as necessary to the fabric of existence as I or anything else is. For me to decide that I can destroy that is beyond my imagination.
Of course, this kind of thinking is pervasive, and not just regarding the treatment of women. Clans, tribes, races, political ideologies, all have tendencies to diminish what is not exactly like them.
The lesson that needs to be learned here is that we really need to become better at living together, that we’re better as a whole that a collection of parts. That starts at the smallest level, which is being kind to a person.
Tony Farkas is publisher of the Madisonville Meteor.