Trigger Warning: Classic Derrick Overshare
I believe in accountability. It is one of the things that made me become Presbyterian. I grew up seeing pastors with a lot of power and what looked to me like very little accountability. I always felt that was wrong.
Anyone who has been on the journey with me in the last three years likely sees the irony in my saying this. I have been on the receiving end of my denomination’s system of accountability for quite awhile.
I’ve had to step away from work that I love and to which I feel strongly called. I’ve had to say no to speaking engagements, but more importantly, to performing weddings and even a couple of funerals for loved ones.
I’ve had to have uncomfortable conversations about my sex life in rooms mostly made up of old white people.
I’ve been stared at with suspicion and doubt by people with the power to make big decisions about my livelihood.
I’ve been through therapy, spiritual direction, and even an evaluation by a psychologist who specializes in sexual deviance. For the record, I have a letter from a psychologist saying I’m not a sexual deviant. Do you?
I’ve gone through these things not to clear my name. I’m clearly guilty of things that I accused myself of. And going through this process has made me realize the magnitude of my actions. What I did, beyond a break of both personal, professional, and spiritual vows, I abused a position power.
Despite my misgivings at the process, and there were definitely flaws in the process, it was the process that was necessary.
No matter where I go, there will be a mark on my record, and I have to live with that. Those are the consequences of my actions.
Having gone through what I have the last few years makes me bristle at what often counts as “consequences” when powerful men behave badly and my sympathy goes out the window.
One of my least favorite things to hear is that a celebrity is going to “sex rehab” after allegations have been mad. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that people can have sexual addictions. And I do think that there are significant gains that can be made with the right therapeutic relationship.
But I also believe that “sex rehab” is bullshit.
I imagine “sex rehabs” for wealthy men as oceanside retreat centers, where they talk about how misunderstood they are and then they watch an old Human Resources film from the 80’s. Probably an animated one.
That’s what I imagine anyways.
Both Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have gone to “sex rehab” lately. They’re probably at the same one.
A big part of why I think “sex rehab” is not the answer is because sex isn’t the problem. Power is. I don’t think all the “sex rehab” in the world is going to make an entitled, wealthy man become less entitled. I think the only thing someone like this will respect is losing their power.
What I find a little more encouraging, though it may just be political theater, is Al Franken’s request for an investigation into his actions. Still, I have little faith that anything of substance will come from it, but we’ll see.
Worse even than “sex rehab” is the doubling down, deflection, slut shaming, and outright defiance that happens around people like Roy Moore and, of course, our president. That Trump had the audacity to go after Franken on Twitter still boggles my mind. The white evangelical propping up of Roy Moore is absolutely indefensible. How can the church stand behind a man who was banned from malls because it was widely known that he pursued teenage girls? Is this the new moral majority?
Today allegations came out against journalist Charlie Rose…
Yes, Charlie Rose. It would seem that no man can be trusted with any level of power… even Charlie Rose.
My suggestion for Mr. Rose, assuming the allegations are true, which I do, is that he fall on his sword.
No, that is not a euphemism.
Turn yourself in and throw yourself at the mercy of the court of public opinion. Because God knows this won’t go to any other court.
This isn’t going to stop. Men in power positions have had too much freedom for far too long. We are at a turning point that is going to bring a lot of men’s careers down around them; maybe not forever, but for a season.
And that’s the way it should be.
I think this bad behavior will continue until men start to see real consequences for our misdeeds. This may end up being the biggest fallout of Trump making it to the White House: people are tired of seeing predators get away with this stuff.
I don’t hold myself as the exemplar here. I didn’t self accuse until it became clear that my behavior would reach my employer. My actions forced me away from my dream job, or at least what I thought was my dream at the time.
I do hold myself up to say that consequences matter. I lost a lot and in that losing, I found myself. We actually hurt people when we shield them from consequences. Every parent knows that. We, as a culture, have enabled monsters and predators. We are reaping what we have sown and it is throwing some of our trusted institutions into chaos. I actually believe this is a very good thing. It is the only way that they will heal.
This is a moment in our nation’s history that, while painful for some, is a real opportunity to improve. We’re being challenged to re-examine old assumptions, confront bad habits, and create new norms. These are good things.
I don’t know how to move forward other than to default to believing victims. That doesn’t mean all victims will be honest, but it makes us better as a people if our natural posture is to come to the defense of those who have less power. I think this moment is crucial. Where we are on the other side of it will tell us a lot about who we are as a people…