Today in Rape Culture: And Then Come the Rehabilitations

[Content Note: Sexual harassment.]

So, I have been less optimistic about the lasting impact of the current spate of exposures of sexual predators than many other people have been — and the reason is because I have written about the rape culture for 13 years now, and among the many things I have learned is that our culture loves to rehabilitate abusive men.

Yes, some men have lost their jobs and suffered a bit of public humiliation. Men who are millionaires; men who will be just fine.

At the same time, in the middle of what is frequently called "the #MeToo moment," its very moniker suggesting an inherent transience, Mel Gibson made a comeback in a mainstream holiday franchise, despite infamously having sexually harassed a police officer, having been recorded verbally abusing his girlfriend, and having pleaded "no contest" to domestic violence charges.

Roman Polanski is still making movies. Woody Allen is still making movies. Johnny Depp is still making movies. Michael Fassbender, Christian Bale, the Affleck brothers, Terrence Howard, Gary Oldman, Jared Leto, and dozens of other men are still A-level celebrities after being accused of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Some of them have never even faced much public scrutiny for their abuse. Some of them have been vociferously defended and their accusers vilified.

Plenty of men, from Charlie Sheen to Mike Tyson, have benefited from second and third and fourth chances, even after they have confessed to or been convicted of violent crimes against women.

I am not remotely convinced that this dynamic has changed. Regretfully, I expect that following these recent disclosures, after some "reasonable" period of time, then the rehabilitations will begin.

Case in point: David Letterman.

Not only is David Letterman coming back from his inglorious slink away from the limelight with a brand new talk show; he's coming back with President Barack Obama as his first guest.

It also marks Obama's "first post-presidency TV talk show interview."

That's quite a rehabilitation. In the middle of "the #MeToo moment," the former President of the United States is lending his stamp of credibility to Letterman — a man who behaved disgracefully, creating a hostile workplace environment for women, some of whose careers were derailed because they didn't want to sleep with him.

It doesn't mean anything to believe women if the most powerful men on the planet won't do anything about the truths we tell.

[Related Reading: The Rehabilitation of Mike Tyson.]

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