And in walked Morgan – by Terry Howard

I didn’t know Morgan Spurlock. Never heard of him.

Until one recent Wednesday night. You see, several friends knew that I was toying with the idea of publishing something new in response to the recent explosion of sexual harassment/assault charges emerging almost daily against high profile men. And before the ink is dry on this piece more allegations are probably forthcoming.

But before I get to Spurlock’s “confession,” here’s a feedback request I sent out recently to a number of people, male and female, whose views I greatly value:

Given that women are coming forth sharing how they’d been harassed or assaulted years ago (the “me too” movement), my hunch is that many men are worriedly reflecting on their past relationships with women, hoping and praying that skeletons they recall (or don’t recall) don’t emerge and throw their current professional and personal lives into turmoil. So, what could these men do?

I propose that men in general (and some men in particular) should consider “truth and reconciliation acts” similar to what happened years ago in South Africa post-apartheid. Another example would be something similar to amnesty programs where illegal gun owners could turn in their weapons without fear of arrest. My point is that men would come clean with their past behavior – even if they did not do but witnessed the behavior and did nothing – ask for forgiveness and commit to becoming fighters in their advocacy for the respectful treatment of woman.

As I anticipated the responses were fast and furious. Here are a few:
“I like your idea – practical and humane, especially framing the ask for forgiveness with active advocating. I am concerned that in reality, fewer women will be hired or included in leadership to avoid messy situations. There needs to be active hiring, mentoring, & promotion involved – with metrics! “- Female company president
“I think this is a fantastic start to a much needed movement! It touches on more than one facet where thinly disguised misogyny and patriarchal notions are concerned. I look forward to a place of healing and forgiveness for (us) survivors.   – Female, public school educator

“Not all actions are equal. The difference between rape and an unwanted touch on the shoulder is enormous. To me, throwing them into the same category — call it sexual harassment or whatever — blurs the focus on truly egregious behavior. Your suggestion, though interesting, is not without its flaws.“      –Male college administrator

“We’ve seen the dumbing-down of such important concepts as privilege and micro-aggressions through their inordinate expansion into covering almost every word or action. I would hate to see the same thing happen with sexual harassment. As for a formal process of confessing, at this point I would neither support nor encourage anyone to participate in it.  We went through this in the 1970’s when some white people publicly confessed to being “recovering racists” to the mechanical applause of those hearing their confessions. My guess is that this process probably did more harm than good. I would hate to see something similar occur with regard to male-female relations”.    – Male consultant

“I wouldn’t dare do that and most men wouldn’t either. That would expose us legally and may even encourage those we may have had a past consensual relationship with to “suddenly” become victims. Nice try Terry but a bad, idea.” – Male college director
Hum, “bad idea?” That sent my suggestion back to the back burner.
But then came Morgan Spurlock who preemptively “outed” himself and, perhaps, added a bit of credence to my suggestion.
Recently Spurlock admitted his own long history of sexual misconduct. The “Super Size Me” creator, who wrote that he “built a career on finding the truth,” shared a detailed account of his misconduct stretching back to his college days in a confessional blog post that he tweeted with the note, “I am Part of the Problem.”

“As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realization of their past indiscretions, I don’t sit by and wonder ‘who will be next?’ he began. “I wonder, ‘when will they come for me?’ ”
Is a confessional a bad idea?

Then again, maybe not!

Terry Howard

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