Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Roy Moore, Mike Oreskes, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, John Conyers, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor. All recent inductees to an ignominious hall of fame.
This year has been exasperating on so many levels, but the gathering flood of stories about successful men sexually harassing and sometimes assaulting women, at work and elsewhere, is simultaneously depressing and inspiring. Depressing because it is impossible to calculate the toll these unseemly episodes have had on the individuals who were victimized. Inspiring because the #MeToo phenomenon has emboldened a few brave women to unburden themselves and, in doing so, encourage others to stand up to past and would-be abusers. This is the power of story.
If we were to go back and redo the biographies of some of our most famous men, what might we find? How many of them would we still consider great? Racism complicates the process of exposing Black harassers because victims are sometimes loath to corroborate Black male stereotypes. But perhaps it’s time we stop putting accomplished men on pedestals. By showing them for who they really are, flaws and all, we can learn from their mistakes and demand higher standards of greatness.
History has had a long run as headliner. Her-story is long overdue for equal billing. By more accurately reflecting who we are, perhaps future generations will be inspired to be better by doing better.
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