We men need a day of repentance

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Nope. No, no, nope.

Dear Rebecca:

With the emergence of the Al Franken scandal, what we knew already has become manifestly clear: Sexual harassment is a bipartisan problem — a widespread problem that reaches into all corners of society. It’s not just Hollywood or Washington D.C. You know women with stories; I know women with stories. And if you think you don’t know a woman who has such stories, well, you’re probably wrong.

And if your response is “not all men,” well … fine, I guess. But I suspect the pool of men who have something to regret and make amends for — and perhaps to face a measure of justice for — is pretty damn wide, too.

Men, we need to ask ourselves: Have we always treated women with the full measure of respect they deserve.

If we’re honest, many of us — me included — will acknowledge times when we could’ve or should’ve done better.

How all this shakes out is anybody’s guess. A few people will lose their jobs and have their legacies tainted. Women, I hope, will feel more free to come forward and tell their stories. The ability of the powerful to prey on the weaker, I hope, will be mitigated.

Regardless of what else happens, let me suggest the time is right for repentance.

I’ve always liked the idea of Yom Kippur, a day of fasting, prayer, and praying for forgiveness. I think it’s what we men need right now.

It doesn’t begin to right all the wrongs that have been done. It’s not the end of the process of accountability. But it might be a place to start — where we can acknowledge to ourselves, to each other, and to those whom we’ve treated poorly that we have acted badly and can, must do better.

I’m not sure where to go from here. Have any ideas?

Sincerely,
Joel

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