Insincere #MeToo Apologies Aren’t Just a White Thing
Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly are just two of many men — Black and White — who have wielded both intimidation and crocodile tears
“I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you.”
That’s what Charles Barkley told Axios reporter Alexi McCammond in November during a political event in Atlanta. His follow-up? Telling the journalist that she “couldn’t take a joke.” The next morning, he released an apology via Turner Sports calling his comment “inappropriate and unacceptable” while still maintaining that it had been “an attempted joke.”
Yet, it wasn’t the first offense for the NBA Hall of Famer. As the L.A. Times pointed out, Barkley went through a similar cycle nearly 30 years ago when he asked a sportswriter, “Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.” Then, too, he apologized; then, too, the apology came not from his mouth, but from his employer.
Taken together, Barkley’s remarks stand as bookends of ignominy, a stunning illustration of what American culture has allowed for far too long — the casual mistreatment of women followed by insincere, callous apologies. Even though the #MeToo movement has largely emboldened women to come forward about such violations, the alleged reckonings that have occurred over the past few years have lacked change at a deeper level: Time and time again, powerful men have balked at taking responsibility for their predatory behavior, let alone changing their behavior.
Perhaps the most visible evidence of this has been provided by two of the men whose misdeeds ignited much of the #MeToo movement: Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Both used their power and influence to rape and otherwise intimidate women into silence; however, when it came time for them to answer for their crimes in court, both portrayed themselves as weak and enfeebled old men. In April 2017, before his sexual-assault trial began, Cosby claimed that he was legally blind, then showed up at the jury selection wearing dark glasses and using a cane and…