By … some guy aka Flowizm/ Wikimedia Commons

As the eye-opening rash of recent accusations pulsates through Hollywood, one can only wonder how these men, the accusations piling into the hundreds and spanning decades, could justify their behaviour. Not to others, the answer to that is as simple as lying and denying, but to themselves. How does a sexual assailant permit themselves that behavior when they exist in the same society we all exist in? Didn’t they know it was wrong? The answer is hinted at in how they word their denials.

Like Dustin Hoffman’s 😛 TAGEND

” I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have set her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am .”

-Dustin Hoffman

Or David Cross’s 😛 TAGEND

“I can’t believe I have to write this but I am not a racist nor a bully and loathe them in real life . #Rashomon”

Not to mention Robert Knepper’s 😛 TAGEND

“Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have discussed the pain women have experienced and the courage they have shown in coming forward. I am shocked and devastated to be falsely accused of violence against a woman. That’s just not who I am . ”

One of the first things instructors teach screenwriters is “the bad guy doesn’t think he’s the bad guy. He thinks he’s the hero.” Everyone is the protagonist of their own tales and very few people who dedicate violence or sex crime understand themselves as bad people. Instead, they take their negative thoughts and behavior and hide them away. Psychologist Carl Jung called this the Id, or shadow ego, an unconscious part of the personality which the self-conscious ego does not identify with, the unknown dark side of the personality. Jung recommended people balance the Id with a super-ego, an idealized and moral persona that they aspire to. Behaviours that departed from this imagined character are not seen as representative of them, but as mistakes to be forgotten. This is why, when asked about the allegations against them, so many of these men respond with “I would never do that, ” rather than “I do that.”

“I mean, such is people I don’t know, and it’s things I never would have done . And it’s merely not worth talking about.”

— James Toback

This seemingly innocuous line from Toback, the most accused of the bunch, recommends the mental process necessary to continue your life after assaulting hundreds of women. Toback doesn’t say he’s “never said and done, ” he says “I never done that, ” as if this were a hypothetical. Of course he thinks it’s not worth talking about because his perspective originated in denying this side of himself exists. When he denies the amount claimed, he’s not delving into recollection to regain the truth, but instead plugs his super-ego into a infertile hypothetical, operating a test in his thinker, at the end of which he thinks he would not have done what he’s accused of doing.

Of course, he’s not plugging in the variables that matter.

And most importantly, he’s merely deeming his idealized self, which isn’t the full picture.

Many of these men have never had to consider the perspectives of their victims up to now, and the realization induces them want to deny these views, because accepting them would force them to see themselves in new light.

In the famous episode “Pamela, Pt. 1” of Louis CK’s character fumbles through an attempted sexual assault of Pamela Adlon’s character while she scolds him with “You can’t even rape well.” This scene demonstrates CK’s perspective, an inability to see himself as a powerful dominant humankind so even when he steps over the line physically he doesn’t read security threats he presents, even as his victim withstands him. Instead, all he can see is his failing, his own self-consciousness. Regrettably, Pamela Adlon’s character is also written by CK, entailing her talk simply confirms his perspective: that he’s a loser, that he’s non-threatening, that she’s not upset, that this assault is all about him. But how can he appreciate an alternate perspective on their behaviour when they deny it in the first place? The inability to see an alternate view on your behaviour is a natural symptom of denying that part of yourself in the first place. But the well being of public accusations is that they army people to confront views on themselves they never knew.

Y’all guys can’t define me or define my work as a father. I’m many things, I’m many things you are familiar with, yeah I’m a convicted rapist, I’m a inferno raiser, I’m a parent, I’m a caring father-god, I’m, you know, a semi-good spouse, you know what I intend? What? You know I’m just a man out here trying to enjoy my, you know I was born poor, I ain’t never had nothing, I don’t know how to act but the real thing is I’m just here to be me. I don’t am worried about who anyone supposes at this stage in my life but yeah, I’m pretty much a tyrant titan. Yeah, that’s who I am .”

— Mike Tyson

Known as “The Baddest Man on the planet” during his dominant boxing periods, Mike Tyson’s 1992 rape sentence and three-year prison term made him to undergo one of the most public acknowledgements of his shadow self imaginable. In this quote from a 1999 press conference, you can see him struggle to find the right definition for himself, recognizing that he is many different things and defying the public’s desire to define him singularly. Following his liberate from prison, Tyson had two paths. He could deny his culpability and disguise from a public who knew he was guilty or to take a long hard look at himself in the mirror. He opted the latter. In a 2010 GQ interview, Tyson said, “I envision I’m a animal. I have this uncanny ability to look at myself in the mirror and say,’ This is a pig. You are a fucking piece of shit.’” However painful, it’s likely that this ability to understand the full scope of his being led Tyson toward recovery.

In 2008, a documentary on Mike Tyson was liberated. The administrator of that documentary was James Toback. Is it any ponder that Toback, a humankind concealing from his tremendous darknes ego, would develop a fascination with Tyson, a boy who had to find a way to deal with his?

I can hear you thinking. What does it matter how miscreants view themselves? We don’t need to dive into these sick people’s minds, just penalise them for their actions. But to actually change the world, boys must change their behavior. And the first step to change is see. Society has only recently realized that telling women to wear longer skirts is not an effective lane to change male behavior, but it defies trying to understand the attackers themselves, panicking their understanding be taken as an olive branch. But the same mentality that allows sex attackers to continue can be seen throughout celebrity culture.

“As a woman in the public eye, I am labeled a brave voice a few moments and an idiotic uninformed navel-gazing whiner the next. There are things I’ve been called that I won’t name here since they are hurt my heart and torso and they don’t deserve my reaction. But just as Lady Gaga lives with chronic sorenes and chronic inspiration, so do we all. She repudiates labels and we can too. She understands that we are all works in progress, discovering to love ourselves and to and to fight for one another. The bravest thing we can do right now, for ourselves and for this country, is to exist authentically and without apology. So person says I’m a fat faux feminist dog abandoner? No: I repudiate that. I say I’m a warrior wife who has lived through and with mental health issues illness, assault, chronic pain, public criticism, and still I’ve opposed every day to tell stories and stimulate jokes. So please, reject the narratives imposed on you and pick your own adventure.

— Lena Dunham

Though, depending on how you feel about bird-dogs, Dunham has never been accused of anything like Harvey Weinstein has( despite a hullaballoo about touching her newborn sister’s vagina ), her vulnerable and open quote presentations how people, especially public figures, must appreciate themselves in order to not collapse under a noise of public opinion. They champion their own views and exclude themselves contradicting narratives, hoping they can control the conversation and live up to the projections they have built for themselves. Of course this perspective is nothing new. One of the oldest Hollywood proverbs is “Don’t read the reviews.”

But denying other’s perspectives and obscuring the parts of yourself that conflict with your ego leaves little room for the truth; the cult of shame tells people they cannot be open about their devious behaviour. In our desire to see ourselves as good people, we risk being able to see our complete selves, both as individuals and as national societies. This process isn’t exclusive to serial sexual assaulters, but something inherent to human behavior. Because it’s this disassociation between one’s identity and one’s acts that allows people to continue to assault women and still visualize themselves as non-threatening.

Society believes we can improve our world by procuring those most egregious of rascals and banishing them. Such an approach has a judicial simplicity to it: do bad, get penalise. But it’s likely to be as successful as crushing the visible ants in your kitchen. They will continue returning until we peel back the walls and look at the real extent of the problem and how our society has fostered it.

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