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Forgiveness is not the New Black


Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday where we ask for forgiveness for our sins. I’ve been thinking a lot about the #MeToo movement and as a feminist, ever since it came out, I’ve been feeling like it’s about time. But something that I’ve been wondering recently is, how can we best as a society help victims, and attackers, to move forward, and should we as a society allow attackers to do so?

With the Supreme Court hearing, the idea of sexual assault has not been far from anyone’s minds recently. Just scrolling through the internet brings the topic to attention:

From addressing double standards our society holds:





To directly discussing the most recent allegations:


To straight up trolls:

It all circles back to:

Now that sexual assault and harassment have been brought to the forefront of public attention, So What? Our Justice system is practically a joke, especially on college campuses, with few cases going to trial and fewer resulting in punishment of some kind for the perpetrator.

More importantly, now that the #MeToo movement has helped women to come forward What Now? How can we support victims to allow them to recover? But also how can we make it so that perpetrators are less likely to commit a similar crime again?

As a society, our justice system needs an overhaul. From Brock Turner going free in 3 months, while non-violent offenders serve years behind bars for everything from carrying a suitcase full of cash to drug possession offenses and theft. But even those that serve time, So What? Are they any less likely to commit crime?- the statistics would say that’s doubtful, with our prison system acting like a revolving door with inmates moving in and out. With ~90% of rapes committed by repeat rapists, with regards to those who actually serve time I’m not reassured by the fact that the prison system does little to rehabilitate or change prisoners. Besides getting rapists off the streets, there’s not much benefit to sending them to jail, since most people come out more with more psychological issues than they had to begin with. I’m not saying that people can’t change or should be defined by one moment for the rest of their life. But we need to actively help people to change and move forward.

The problem is how can we pursue rehabilitation without forgiveness? And is forgiveness necessary for rehabilitation? Is the reason our prison system does little to rehabilitate inmates because, as a society we don’t wish to forgive these people, and therefore wish to condemn them with records and restricted rights and opportunities even after they’ve served time? We like to forget about prisoners, and even allow governments not to evacuate them during natural disasters, but is this marginal treatment of our prisoners really just perpetuating a system of reoccurring crime? Or is it that we feel that we protect victims by shutting these criminals away? Is choosing not to rehabilitate criminals part of a false sense of honoring victims?

So far our justice system prefers orange to forgiveness, but maybe there’s away we could actually use prison to make these prisoners better people while having them serve their time and punishment. But we can’t forgive people who don’t admit guilt or accept consequences. As for what society should do about men with credible allegations of sexual assault brought against them, like Harvey Weinstein, I’m rather sick of people who clearly broke the law solely getting fired or not being allowed to make a movie, and not paying any legal consequences. On the other hand simple sexual harassment cases might really only need to cause someone to lose their job. Before we can hope to move forward as a society, the punishment must fit the crime, but its equally important that the punishment involves some type of retribution or rehabilitation.

What do you think? Would reforming the prison system while being tougher on convicting sexual assaulters reduce sexual violence? Is there no hope for the system? Or should we be tougher on criminals to deter them from committing crimes in the first place? Do you think that the #MeToo movement will have a lasting impact on how we treat sexual assault cases, and who we put in positions of power in our society? Is there a chance for forgiveness, or at least rehabilitation, to become the new black?

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl