Sorry/Not Sorry: Apologizing for Sexual Assaults – Not Good Enough

Mark Halperin is sorry. George H. W. Bush is sort of sorry – sorry that women were offended by his humorous groping of their bodies without their consent, anyway.   (No sense of humor, those feminists.  Q:  “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?”  A:  “That’s not funny!”)  Harvey Weinstein was sorry, for a minute – sorry that he “came of age” in a time where sexual harassment and assault were just a perk of the Hollywood culture, but then, apparently, not sorry, because after remembering what he did as all part of the times, he then chose to have a “different recollection” of the (multiple) accusations that are coming forward.  Donald Trump is NOT sorry. (But why would he apologize for fake news anyway? Sheesh.)

The hashtag #metoo has taken off, inspiring women to come forward with stories, and inspiring many people to believe, to empathize, to sympathize, and to demand action, in a way that is clearly more effective when it’s prompted by white actress Alyssa Milano than it was when it was started over ten years ago by activist Tarana Burke as part of her work to empower girls and young women of color.  Giving voice to one’s victimization is absolutely a method of resistance; we support those coming forward with their stories, and we support those who who do not.

However, we notice something in many of these stories that has failed to attract media attention – women’s successful use of resistance strategies.  #metoo shows us the many times where women’s use of verbal or physical strategies – or both – either changed the outcome for the women, or stopped a perpetrator from perpetrating or continuing the assault.  These are not stories where “nothing happened” – these are stories where women were able to keep themselves safe, or get to safety.  They do not mitigate the stories where women did not or could not resist; all “#metoo” stories are important, underscore the epidemic of violence against women, and make it crystal clear that the perpetrators are responsible, and at fault, for the harassment and assaults.

More stories will come to light – and they will – and more people are accused – and they will be.  Sorry is better than not sorry, to be sure, but criminal behavior demands appropriate legal response.  And as of now, at least, sexual assault is still a crime.  We applaud and honor the women who have survived, who have spoken out, who have resisted and are resisting.  An apology, sincere or half-assed or otherwise, doesn’t quite cut it.

 

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