‘sorry,’ two ways
post by misha
there seems to be a lot of confusion these days in the wake of wave after breaking wave of allegations of sexual misconduct, in the chaos of backlash and inadequate apologies. i hear some people asking, what are these men supposed to do if their apologies are not enough? what can they do, short of going back in time and not doing the thing that they did?
it’s worth noting that sometimes the answer will be ‘nothing.’ there’s nothing that can be done. the time to make amends has passed. the transgression was too heinous to be forgiven.
but sometimes there is something to be done, and right now we’re seeing a lot of pisspoor examples of what it is. public accusations, public statements, public statements clarifying original statements, media analyses, backlash, more accusations… (etc etc for the foreseeable future until we exorcise this gross demon from the social norm) – this cycle is about as healing as posting justin beiber’s ‘sorry’ to the accuser’s facebook page nine hundred times. don’t expect to be forgiven for following this blueprint. it is not enough.
if you’re a person wondering what to do, here are a couple of ideas:
if you’ve had a sexual encounter with another person and you think you may have acted inappropriately during that encounter – if you have even one iota of doubt about it – don’t wait.
reach out. ask questions. listen. apologize, if appropriate. do not demand that your apology be accepted. sometimes it won’t be. find out what, if anything, you can do to make amends to the person you’ve wronged. ask yourself what steps you can take to be better. take those steps. immediately.
don’t wait to apologize until you have to. until all your friends, fans, colleagues, family, and loved ones find out what you did. don’t apologize in order to Get Out Ahead Of It. do it because apologies are healing. they mean something. and they mean a hell of a lot more when they’re not at gun point.
don’t stop. continue to check in. with yourself, with others. make accountability an every day part of your life. not just to women, but to all marginalized folks. dedicate resources to those struggling with trauma and abuse. learn. grow. be a good part of the future.
and finally, because you made it all the way through another think-piece on another traumatic and exhausting subject, here’s a really lovely and emotive (and considerably more convincing) cover of justin bieber’s ‘sorry’ by lydia loveless. buy it here.