Today’s new word is “himpathy.”
an excessive sympathy for privileged male perpetrators with ostensibly bright futures.
What distinguishes these “privileged male perpetrators” is that they have neither been accused nor convicted, and so they just get away with it.
It’s very easy to condemn the likes of Harvey Weinstein now. A few months ago, it wasn’t—and, with regard to many serial sexual predators and other perpetrators, it still isn’t and never will be.
So consider how you think about the Harvey Weinsteins of the world whose reputation is still intact, or who’s your boss, or your colleague, or friend, or family member, or favorite sport star, or a public figure you admire—or just somebody you currently think of as a “good guy.”
That their “reputations are still intact” would seem to suggest to some that it could be because they haven’t done anything to taint their reputations, but then “moral philosopher” Kate Manne would disagree. She argues that we pick and choose which victims to believe because we like some “perpetrators” more than others. But built into her argument is this:
So we are not in the dark simply because his victims are silent.
The same “spurious” arguments that rationalize why “victims” fail to accuse, fear of disbelief, nefarious motives, retaliation “or erase her from the discourse altogether,” whatever that means, result in proof by silence. If no one accuses you, that doesn’t mean you did nothing wrong, but that your victim was too oppressed to overcome her fears. So silence makes you guilty too?
In the wake of the #MeToo campaign, we must ask ourselves the question: “How have we contributed to the silence surrounding sexual assault and harassment?” And, often, the answer is that we only believe the victims we want to: and, conversely, we only heed the evidence against those men we’re not invested in believing in.
Is questioning proof of guilt by silence, to only heed the evidence you believe in, “himpathy”? Will this be the next slide down the slope, where accusation means guilt and silence means guilt too?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.