A few of the celebrity men brought down by #MeToo are planning some sort of comeback. Charlie Rose, for example, is reportedly considering hosting a new TV project where he interviews other men ruined by #MeToo. Others planning comebacks are Matt Lauer, Mario Batali and Louis C.K. This is according to The New York Times.
At the same time that this is bubbling up from below, a group of more than 115 women have signed a letter stating that they have worked with Tom Brokaw and he is a decent man of integrity who should not be ruined. He’s been accused of having made unwelcome overtures to a young reporter at NBC in the 1990s. Brokaw has denied it and sent out a 1,037-word email suggesting in this case it’s more about #LookAtMe than #MeToo. NBC President Andrew Lack is going to have to decide what is to be done about Tom Brokaw.
At the same time comes the jury conviction of TV star Bill Cosby for sexual assault, and he will likely have to go to jail.
All of this, I think, resulted in The New York Times publishing a timely opinion piece last Friday by Katie J. M. Baker, a BuzzFeed reporter, headlined WHAT DO WE DO WITH THESE MEN?
“The bad men are plotting their comebacks,” she writes. “Mr. Rose should be donating millions of dollars to domestic violence shelters, not planning a star-studded return to TV that leverages his transgressions to boost his career.”
From that start, she goes on to try to answer the question in the headline. What DO we do with these men? Time marches on. Something is going to happen. After nearly five columns of discussion, Ms. Baker finally writes that she has no answers to these questions. It’s just that it’s time for people to come up with some sort of plan to decide what ought to be done. She is, I believe, addressing this to other women.
I think, looking closely at the ongoing #MeToo movement, it is fair to say that it came about because the regular rules of American law that should have dealt with men who behave unfairly, and worse, toward women did not do so. Not now, not ever. As a result, women everywhere have broken out with a show of renunciation. It wasn’t always democratic, it wasn’t always reasonable, but it works.
Many men who were rapists, pigs and abusers got their comeuppance. Accuse, convict and punish, all in 24 hours. And maybe a few who didn’t deserve it got their comeuppance anyway. They were the necessary male collateral damage of the movement. Too bad.
Men everywhere were shaken to their core. They’d wake up in the night wondering if they were going to be next. Some still do.
I think there are men out there who have been ruined who may have behaved badly before #MeToo who realize that respect and equality for women is the proper way to behave, not because it has won the day or because of the pressure, but because it is so obviously correct. How could we have behaved so badly?
I am not suggesting that going to a clinic in Arizona for a two-month behavior re-adjustment could erase the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby and what they did. There are those who don’t change or who did things so wrong they cannot be forgiven.
I am suggesting that women, who in the end are rightly the judges of bad behavior in this situation, be open to men joining a group called #NeverAgain to apologize for what was done, explain where they are now and offer a pledge it should never happen again.
Joining #NeverAgain might be considered a sort of parole, a challenge to women to watch them. But it would be a way forward, because in the end, this is about both sexes getting along. And that has to happen.