Recently, when asked about the effect the #MeToo movement has had on male celebrities and their professional lives, I had a peer make the comment, “We’re going to lose some of the good ones.” Confusion erupted.
“Lose them? Didn’t they do this to themselves.”
“The good ones? Nothing about them is good.”
“If you say ‘good ones’ you’re admitting that they’re actually are good, right?”
I’d like to take my peer’s words and describe the meaning I found in them, as a professional in the anti-sexual violence field.
R. Kelly. Aziz Ansari. Charlie Rose. Ryan Saecrest. Jay Asher. Charlie Walk. Morgan Freeman. David Copperfield. James Franco. Ken Friedman. Matt Lauer. Richard Branson. Russell Simmons. John Conyers. Andrew Kresiberg. Al Franken. Louis C.K. Roy Moore. Jeffrey Tambor. Kevin Spacey. Donald Trump.
A renounced musical artist. A knee-slapping comedian. A legendary news broadcaster. A beloved radio voice. A multi-published author. A high-end music executive. A household-name actor. A world-recognized illusionist. An attractive, up-and-coming actor. A multi-million restaurateur. A friendly morning talk show host. A famed investor and philanthropist. A music mogul. A politician. A hit television show creator. Another politician. Another comedian. Another actor. Another politician. Another actor. A president.
(You can find a full list of the accused, along with their responses and the fall out here.)
By listing the names and successes of these offenders, I am not by any means attempting to make their “good” outshine their bad–nothing can ever shine so bright.
Nor am I attempting to remove the survivors from their experiences either by not listing their names and accomplishments, because without their bravery we would never see these men for what they truly are.
What I am trying to do, though, is make sense of my peer’s comments and the feelings we’re all having during this national awaking of sexual violence by such public figures.
These were men with good talents. They entertained us, inspired us, and uplifted us. But now, they’ve let us down to a point that is unforgivable. I know I’m unable to listen to one of R. Kelly’s songs without remembering, and I have a pinch of pain when I become excited for the next season of House of Cards.
Importantly, too, these were men with power. That’s the key here. Power to threaten away a survivor’s voice to speak up, threaten their careers, and even threaten their lives. Power to turn the public to their side and power to pay away anyone who started to ask questions. Power to potentially get away with sexual violence.
Power that survivors take away when they speak up, and power we take away when we don’t recognize them as still good ones.
It’s okay to wish they hadn’t done it. It’s important to remember that their victims probably wish they hadn’t either. We may feel remorse, regret, confusion; they were great, but now?
Now, we’ve lost them, or at least the them we thought they were. That is the cost of believing, supporting, and upholding survivors as they rightfully deserve. That is the cost of saying enough is enough.
If you can’t become powerful, known, loved, without taking advantage of any of those privileges, you don’t deserve them any longer. You may have been a good guy, you may have even been grand, but we as a society have now lost you because we choose to support survivors, and we’ve gained another victory for #MeToo .