In his article “The collective religious experience of #MeToo” Damon Linker characterizes the social media “Me too” campaign as liberal revivalist religion.

Linker concludes his article describing “Me too” as

a moral and religious crusade that precisely parallels those of earlier, more observant times. Triggered by the flood of provocations and sordid revelations that mark the Trump era, liberals have recoiled in the direction of pious proclamations, setting off to convert the country and the world to the Gospel of Egalitarianism.

http://theweek.com/articles/731590/collective-religious-experience-metoo

I am not entirely sure what point Mr. Linker is trying to make. Is he dismissing this social media phenomenon because it is possible to discern connections between the spirit of “Me too,” and the spirit that lies behind revivalist religious campaigns which many “Me too” supporters would likely find offensive?

Linker, who apparently has power to live inside the mind of a public figure, suggests that in response to the whole attitude of “Me too,”

Billy Graham would have smiled.

At least Linker acknowledges that we have been living through an

era of the pathologically entitled, institutionally facilitated sexual predator.

But, then with a cheery if somewhat naive optimism, he concludes that, post-Harvey Weinstein, this era of violence

may be drawing to a close…. http://theweek.com/articles/731590/collective-religious-experience-metoo

Rebecca Traister is not quite so sanguine.

In her article “The Conversation We Should Be Having” Traister points out that it was just last October

that the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump was recorded bragging about how when you’re famous you can do anything to women, including grabbing them by the pussy, sparked a torrent of stories from women describing how they had been harassed or assaulted by the Republican candidate. There were Twitter hashtag campaigns; there were soaring and righteous speeches; there were even tepid denunciations of Trump from his own party.

https://www.thecut.com/2017/10/harvey-weinstein-donald-trump-sexual-assault-stories.html

And now here we are again.

For Traister, the problem is, not that we have failed to be horrified enough at the abhorrent behaviour of male thugs who think their power and privilege entitle them to abuse women. Of course we are all outraged by Harvey Weinstein and before him, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.

If this list is not depressing enough, check out the list Beth Winegarner proposes at: https://medium.com/@beth_winegarner/weinstein-isnt-the-only-one-screen-celebs-who-abuse-women-or-children-c5732e15cf92

(nb: Lest we Canadians fall prey to the illusion that the US alone spawns such behaviour, we might call to mind the 2014 scandal that stormed around  CBC radio personality Jihan Ghomeshi in 2014 and most recently allegations against Éric Salvail and Gilbert Rozon in Quebec:  http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/shockwaves-hit-quebec-as-two-top-celebrities-resign-in-face-of-sexual-misconduct-allegations)

For Rebecca Traister,

this is not a story simply of individual misconduct but of systemic inequity, a story of nuts-and-bolts infrastructure of gender injustice that has permitted generations — centuries — of this behavior, and that has worked again and again to beat back any resistance to it.

It is no excuse, but the tragic reality is that history suggests men have always abused women and far too often, have escaped the consequences of our egregious misbehaviour.

Certainly, systemic change is necessary to move towards a society in which women may feel less need to keep constant vigilance against abuse. But, in order for such systemic change to take deep root in the human community, it may need to begin with men taking some of the steps that, in his article, Mr.Linker seems to dismiss with a smile. It may amuse Mr. Linker, but in truth men could do worse than starting the process of systemic change by

confessing their own sins, testifying to their transgressions, humbly requesting absolution and redemption, and begging for readmission to the community on the condition of abject self-abasement and repentance.

True confession is not a facile public mea culpa accompanied by a warm comforting exoneration  for the perpetrator.  True confession is scorching self-examination; it is about deep self-awareness and searing honesty. A little self-awareness and honesty on the part of abusive men in the midst of a culture of entitlement and denial could go a long way towards beginning to build a new culture of openness and respect in which women might begin to be able to feel a little safer.

For a man to confess his “own sins” is simply to admit that we have fallen grievously short of the measure of what it means to truly be a man. We have indeed repeatedly “transgressed”.  Nothing could be more appropriate or hopeful under the circumstances than men “humbly requesting” forgiveness, repenting, and seeking to make amends.  Even a little “abject self-abasement” might not be out of place in the face of the arrogant, self-centered, inconsiderate, manipulative, and abusive attitudes and actions that have so often characterized our interactions with women.

The religious impulse may amuse Mr. Linker, but properly understood, the journey of honest confession, repentance, and commitment to reformation, might in fact be precisely the way towards the light in the face of our long dark history as men. We could do worse than “humbly requesting absolution” in an attempt to bring an end to “Me too.”