There are a lot of men writing a lot of apologies right now. For the most part, these apologies are full of ambiguities…. full of equivocations… full of shit. These “apologies” are being written under the watchful eye of high-priced lawyers, paid to ensure they don’t leave their clients legally liable for their gross actions. I imagine conversations like this: “We need to make me look apologetic and contrite, but without actually taking any responsibility or admitting guilt… Also, try to work in some subtile language that casts doubt on the allegations (and the women making them), but not so much that it makes it look like I’m attacking them or calling them liars. Work your magic!”
Almost every apology I have seen has seemed less interested in being an actual attempt to make things right, and more interested in saving face while preserving the power which made their abuse possible. And these shitty, power-preserving “apologies” have been grossing me right out lately. To me they feel like just another act of abuse… And that’s not right. If you are genuinely sorry, then BE sorry. To that end, I have written an actual apology for men to use as the people they have abused continue to bravely come forward. Here it is:
It is a strange and difficult thing coming to terms with my own shittiness. I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as one of the good guys. The reality is something different — I am one of the villains. When reality hits you in the face, you can either act like it didn’t happen, or you can try something new, and attempt to do the right thing by being TRUTHFUL. This is my attempt to do the right thing. Here is the truth: I am a disgusting perv who used his position and power to do very real harm to other human beings. The women who have accused me of these things are telling the truth. I have been treating women like they are objects for me to consume. I am so ashamed of the way I’ve treated these women. I told myself I deserved their affection. I convinced myself that these women “wanted it,” when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even now, I want to try to explain why I have repeatedly acted so shamefully, but there is no excuse for my actions.
In short, deep down I have known that I am a piece of shit for a long time… The only real difference is that now YOU know that too. My hope is that with that knowledge will come a higher degree of accountability… But more than that, my hope is that the actions I take from this point on will do something to repair the pain and damage I have caused.
My position and power is made manifest partially in my great wealth… So as an act of intentional reduction in the power that has so corrupted my soul, and so perverted the decent man I used to envision myself being, I am giving up very sizable portions of my riches. I will be giving that money both to the women I have harmed, as well as to organizations that work to help women who are sexually abused by men like me… Men who have somehow forgotten both their own humanity, as well as the humanity of the women they have mistreated. I know that money could never make right the many damages I have caused, but I have gotten very rich being a total douchebag. In many ways, money is power… And I see now that I need to give up much of my power.
I am so very sorry. I have not only harmed the women I have abused, but I have harmed my friends and family. The harm I have done is my fault, and my fault alone. I will now work to undo some of that harm, as I attempt to rebuild relationships… and maybe, someday, even rebuild trust.
The next man to be outed as a sexual predator (because there will most definitely be more) can feel free to use that if he (notice I didn’t write “he or she”) wants…
Last night at work, I spoke to a friend about the craziness of the time we are living in. We commiserated about the steady stream of soul-crushing garbage that seems to be flowing from every direction — A steady stream that I think is best articulated in this amazing tweet by Maya Kosoff:
Even now, as I write this, yesterday’s newest wave of sexual harassment revelations are being forgotten as the world reacts (with celebration, and with spin) to the news of Gen. Michael Flynn’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation on Russian involvement in our election. And before I finish and publish this, people will have started to forget about Flynn, and they will be focused on the Republican tax plan passing. But we all feel the weight of the relentless attack on our hope. As if it’s not enough to have a daily barrage of hateful, dishonest tweets and comments from the elected leader of our nation… As if it’s not enough to have a president who retweets debunked anti-Muslim propaganda videos from a British hate group… As if it’s not enough to have a horribly dishonest Press Secretary doing her rhetorical gymnastics trying to justify his actions… As if it’s not enough to have a person like pedophile Roy Moore leading the polls in the Alabama Senate race… As if it’s not enough to have a bunch of people calling themselves “christians” who are so confused about what it means to follow Jesus that they are actually defending and supporting a child molester (who was so creepy he got banned from a mall) over an honorable man like Doug Jones, who convicted KKK members for killing little girls… As if it’s not enough to have to be constantly fighting against things like this awful tax plan, and attacks on healthcare and basic human decency (God help me, even writing this paragraph was exhausting)… But ADD TO THAT this growing sense that most of the powerful men in the world think they are entitled to “Trump” any woman they see (that’s slang for kissing a woman against her will, or “grabbing her by the pussy”), and one would not be faulted for just deciding to give up hope that the world is worth trying to save.
As I talked with my friend about our declining faith in humanity, I said to her, “The problem isn’t humanity. The problem is MEN.” But I’m not sure that’s quite right. The problem is obviously not a democrat or republican thing… The problem is not “left” or “right.” The problem is not Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, & Al Franken, and the problem is not Roy Moore, Bill O’Reilly, & Donald Trump. Yes, the problem is men and a warped and toxic understanding of what is meant by Masculinity… But it’s also about power. It’s about protecting privilege at all costs. And right now (as is true of all of recorded history) most of the ones with the power in the world happen to be men. But maybe — HOPEFULLY — that’s starting to change…
So here’s what I think — I think that when we find out that powerful people are using their positions to abuse others, we need to insist on separating those people from their power. And part of that has to include separating them from their wealth. Because here’s the thing: Matt Lauer was paid $25 MILLION a year! That’s over $2 MILLION a month… And if you figure he did about 20 Today Shows a month (5 per week, 4 weeks per month), that works out to $200,000 per DAY of work. If that ass hole feels bad about his actions, he needs to put his money where his mouth is. When poor men force themselves on women, they go to prison for a very long time. When rich men do it, they sit down with an attorney and a PR consultant, they write a “letter of apology,” and then they disappear for a while (vacation) with their millions and millions of dollars.
That, or they continue to deny it, even after getting caught on tape bragging about it on an Access Hollywood bus, and they go on to get elected president. Shit… Either way, stay hopeful, keep fighting for justice, and look for little things that remind you that the world is actually filled with really good people… It’s just that the awful ones seem to make a lot more noise.
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