Amber Tamblyn has penned a must-read essay for the New York Times, where she asks some questions we've all been grappling with. Since the Harvey Weinstein story kicked off a flood of famous and powerful men being accused of sexual misconduct — and ultimately, banished from their jobs and the public eye — there has been hand-wringing about the swiftness and severity of the consequences. "What if an innocent man is falsely accused? What if the repercussion doesn’t fit the crime? What ever happened to innocent until proved guilty?" Tamblyn asks rhetorically; these questions we've all heard from the men in our lives in the past few weeks.
Tamblyn says that men, by and large, want redemption for the accused. She writes about speaking with a TV writer, who asked her, point-blank, "tell me something: do you believe in redemption?" as though somehow Tamblyn doesn't. The notion seems to make Tamblyn bristle.
"The idea appeals to the men I’ve been talking with, I believe, because they want a sense of normalcy restored," she writes. "They want measured discussion of consequences, not swift punishment." She observes that women "haven’t been in a position to come forward with their stories and be taken seriously as a rule," which is why women sometimes wait decades to come forward. Given that women have often felt silenced when speaking up, or have seen little action taken on their claims, the idea of redemption feels like a derailment.
In the meantime, many industries are in disarray, reckoning with the way power has been used to harm women. It's taking place in entertainment, music, tech, politics, media, academics, and the culinary worlds, but Tamblyn rightly notes that this is just the beginning. "Why do we need to talk about the redemption of men when we are right in the middle of the salvation of women? Not even the middle, but the very beginning?" she asks, making a point that the past few months of nonstop allegations is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Women have been dealing with this for our entire lives. We're just talking about it now.
Ultimately, Tamblyn says that there is a new power structure that needs to be put in place: a red line that values women and their autonomy. "...People should allow the consequences to unfold, regardless of how it affects those they consider to be friends. The only way to enforce seismic, cultural change in the way men relate to women is to draw a line deep in the sand and say: This is what we will no longer tolerate. You’re either with our bodies or against our bodies."
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