Pro forma responses for sexual harassers

New York Daily News

There is way, way too much sexual misconduct in the workplace. It’s not all the same — we’re lumping together actors targeting 14-year-old boys, comedians knocking out and raping women, and politicians squeezing buttocks. But while the offenses are varied, the responses aren’t. They tend to come in one of three formats.

While every lascivious act deserves investigation, every generic apology doesn’t. Rather than keep analyzing the apologies, I’ve created these three generic responses that span any upcoming statements from accused harassers.

The apology

By now you have read the stories about how I {stared at the breasts of / made rude remarks to / groped / assaulted / sucked the toes of / masturbated in front of } several { young girls / women / teenage boys }. I {deeply / sincerely } regret what happened, although for legal reasons I cannot actually admit to it. I know I have { deeply / profoundly } destroyed the lives and careers of these vulnerable people, and that’s a terrible shame.

I’d also like to apologize to my { lawyer / publicist / agent / coworkers } who so effectively covered for me, enabled me, and did whatever else was necessary to keep these victims from talking. Without their work, I could never have gotten away with it for so long.

I will now talk about myself, since it is a topic I am far more comfortable with than the people whose lives I messed up.

Please understand the context of these events. They happened in the { 60s / 70s / 80s / 90s / 00s / last week in Cleveland } when people thought differently about { women / gay sex }. The prevailing attitudes of the { entertainment / political / music / media / technology / coal mining } industry made it feel as if it was normal to treat these people as meaningless objects of desire rather than humans. I have always been a supporter of { women’s rights / gay people } in a general, societal way, which ought to make up for a few individuals in specific situations. Since this stuff happened, my understanding of { my own sexuality / societal mores / what it means to be a decent human being } has evolved.

I will now step out of the limelight for a while as I consider { what happened / the scattered ruins of my career }. It is my fervent hope that you will forget what I have done, but not forget me altogether, so I can mount a pathetic comeback at some point.

The denial

It’s now clear that the mainstream media has chosen to make me a victim. I deny any wrongdoing.

There is no proof that the alleged incidents occurred.

Or if there is, they were consensual.

Or if there is any question about that, they were legal and customary for the time that they happened.

Or if they weren’t, I have no recollection of the people involved, so they must be lying.

It’s clear that the individuals making these accusations are doing so for political gain. They are being manipulated by the { liberal / conservative / gossip } media industry. They have waited decades to come forth with these allegations, not because of their own shame at what I allegedly did, but just to wait for this moment to slander my reputation. They are clearly motivated by profit, although it’s hard to see how they will make any money from this.

I will reward them by sending investigators to dig up dirt on their pasts and repudiate them, and by using my massive resources to harass them with lawyers and smears of my own.

There will be no self-examination here. Unlike those who apologize for their past actions, I will focus on the alleged victims rather than myself. And I will destroy them, because my cause is more important than any individual’s alleged trauma from long ago.

The truth (rarely seen)

As a { director / actor / media personality / musician / politician / judge / venture capitalist / senior industry executive }, I have been in a position of power. Power is intoxicating. But of what use is power if you cannot use it to prove yourself superior and above punishment?

I used my power to exploit people who imagined that working with me would advance their careers. At the time, it certainly seemed like the thing to do. Using people is what powerful people do, isn’t it?

If my actions seem bizarre to you in the cold light of day, be aware that getting away with these bizarre acts is how I reassured myself that I was, indeed, as powerful as I imagined myself to be.

Why is this so hard for you people to understand?

The end

It incenses me that this is so common.

It incenses me that these responses have become so pro forma as to be a cliche.

The apologies incense me. The denials incense me. The truth, never spoken, incenses me.

I would like to believe we have reached a turning point in attitudes towards personal interactions in positions of unbalanced power. I don’t think things can return to the status quo. But I am not sure.

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  1. Yep. Spot on. I would only add one thing: “I’m running off to a fancy private treatment/counseling facility for a few weeks to make myself appear sincere and redeemable.”