Amber Tamblyn is not here for men’s comeback stories. There’s been a wave of women breaking their silence and accusing men of sexual harassment and assault in recent months. To many, it’s been eye opening and a sign that things are finally changing. But that response is also accompanied by questions about what happens to these men’s work and how harsh their punishments should be. Don’t these men get a chance at redemption? No. Not according to Tamblyn.
Tamblyn, of course, has been very vocal about sexual harassment. Back in 2016, Tamblyn revealed that she had been in an abusive relationship. Earlier this year, Tamblyn called out James Woods, described harassment in Hollywood, and penned a New York Timesop-ed “I’m Done With Not Being Believed.” Now Tamblyn has come out with another op-ed saying this is not the time for men to redeem themselves.
In Tamblyn’s op-ed in The New York Times, “I’m Not Ready for the Redemption of Men,” Tamblyn recalls sitting between two Emmy-winning writers. They were a man and woman and had incredibly different reactions to the fallout after the accusations against Louis C.K. came out and the sexual harassment scandal in general.
The man argued that while what C.K. did was bad, it certainly wasn’t as bad as what Harvey Weinstein did and that all of these cases shouldn’t be equated. The woman argued that they should be. The man grew more frustrated as they argued and then said, “Tell me something: Do you believe in redemption?”
According to Tamblyn, while redemption is certainly possible, now is not the time for these men’s redemption story. Now is the time to listen to women and their stories. This is their time to be heard and believed and for there to be actual consequences for the allegations they make. We have to put our foot down and say that sexual harassment or assault of any kind is not acceptable.
“Why do we need to talk about the redemption of men when we are right in the middle of the salvation of women?” she asks. “Not even the middle, but the very beginning? Why are we obligated to care about salvaging male careers when we have just begun to tell the stories that have plagued us for lifetimes? It seems some men like a revolution only when it’s their kind of war.”
Not everyone agrees with Tamblyn though. Many are worried that each case isn’t being looked at individually when we’re lumping all of these accusations together. Some may be judged too harshly or may be innocent. Plus, we’re losing so much talent. Should Al Franken, for example, be treated the same way as Weinstein?
Tamblyn says that men have even set up text chains as a “safe space” to talk about how they’re feeling in the wake of the sexual harassment scandal. That feels all too familiar to women who have been silenced for years though.
“We’re in the midst of a reckoning,” Tamblyn argues. “It’s what toxic masculinity’s own medicine tastes like. And people should allow the consequences to unfold, regardless of how it affects those they consider to be friends. The only way to enforce seismic, cultural change in the way men relate to women is to draw a line deep in the sand and say: This is what we will no longer tolerate. You’re either with our bodies or against or bodies. The punishment for harassment is you disappear. The punishment for rape is you disappear. The punishment for masturbation in front of us is you disappear. The punishment for coercion is you disappear.”
She and her friend aren’t arguing that there can never be any redemption for men. Men like C.K. don’t have to disappear forever. But this is not the time. These allegations have only just come out and they’re already planning their comeback tours.
Instead, this is the time to show women that they won’t be silenced any longer and that actions now have consequences.
“Redemption must be preceded by atonement,” Tamblyn says. “It is earned, not offered. If you want amends, you have to make them. You have to acknowledge the line in the sand. Once you do this, the next step is simple: Pick a side. Choose us.”