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Sexual harassment and assault

#MeToo is a call for men to face their conscience

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 8:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:24pm

Speaking as a male domestic violence counsellor, I was surprised but not shocked to learn about Eric Schneiderman’s alleged history of abuse (“Him too: New York attorney general, a champion of #MeToo movement, quits after four women accuse him of violence”, May 8)

I believe that his sudden and dramatic resignation reveals a fundamental truth about the #MeToo movement: it doesn’t matter what someone says in public, what causes one represents, the organisations one belongs to, the people one knows, or the pinnacles of one’s ambitions.

To be a real advocate of women, one must have integrity. In the words of motivational speaker and author Joyce Meyer, “Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private”.

The reason Schneiderman collapsed so fast is that he did not truly comprehend the movement he fought so calculatingly to accelerate. He worked obsessively to reform society, rather than address his own personal struggles with sex, gender, power, and control, by putting in the difficult and time-consuming work needed to examine the root of these vulnerabilities.

He devoted his career to uncovering the crimes and misdeeds of others. All along, he missed the point entirely.

What Scheiderman failed to realise about #MeToo is that [it challenges] men to restructure their way of thinking

What Scheiderman failed to realise about #MeToo is that this movement is a call for all men to deconstruct their own arrogance, prejudices, and misconceptions regarding women. Far from a politically emblematic movement centred on finger-pointing and scapegoating, this is an empowering movement that inspires and galvanises women to speak their truth, while simultaneously challenging men to restructure their way of thinking.

Someone in Schneiderman’s position may endorse and prosecute numerous laws that aim to protect women, but if they do not treat women with dignity behind closed doors, they will never live up to a single one of them.

As much as anything else, #MeToo is a progressive crusade for men to become answerable to their own conscience. As the Greek playwright Sophocles said: “There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as the conscience which dwells within us.”

George Cassidy Payne, family counsellor, Rochester, New York