Ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal was uncovered in October, there has been a frenzy of accusations from countless people accusing various male celebrities of sexual harassment and misconduct. So far, this has caused people and businesses, particularly in the entertainment industry, to revise their policies on sexual harassment and there has been a lot of support shown towards the women who have come forward during the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements.
However, there is a glaring aspect of the issue that I think is being poorly handled, which is what to do about the various offenders.
Many the offenders have been, shall we say, disowned as their punishment, like NBC firing Matt Lauer and Netflix choosing to end “House of Cards” after its next season in light of the accusations against Kevin Spacey.
While this is understandable, I do not think that the punishment fits the crime. Right now, all of the offenders seem to have been forced to retreat into holes of silence. And who can blame them? When the world sees you as a despicable villain, what are you really going to say apart from “sorry”?
The public has been demonizing these offenders for the past five months or so, and I think it’s time for us to take the next step.
Putting myself in the shoes of the offenders, I know that I would want to make amends for my actions. These are people of substantial means, and it might be a good idea to encourage or even legally obligate them to use those means and resources to aid women looking to move up in the entertainment industry or reform workplace environments in all fields. At the moment though, the public is not really giving the offenders the chance to do anything like that.
I’m not saying that what these people have done is acceptable. What I’m saying is that they are, at the end of the day, human beings that make mistakes but also have the capacity to change themselves.
I don’t think any of you would want to be remembered for the worst thing that you did. I know I wouldn’t. And yes, it’s rare for people to drastically change who they are, but I think it’s much more likely to happen if we work towards it.
It’s maybe satisfying and even, dare we say it, fun to make villains out of people.
I know that’s something I would like to see happen, and it starts with the way that we, the public, treat these offenders in the coming months.