#MeToo: Beyond Shaming to Reconciliation

#Metoo: More Than a Social Media Trend

#Metoo is not like other hashtag trends the Washington Post reports. #Metoo has been resilient in making headlines and consistent in its exposing power. The public outcry has resulted in many firings and led to changes in contractual obligations in the entertainment industry. #Metoo has helped bring clarity to what sexual consent is and is not, enabling many victims to finally voice their stories — a long overdue opportunity to release the burden. 

It is a powerful movement. Fuelled by pain, righteous indignation, resentment, and stoked by public shaming. #Metoo is very likely to make men fear what they are capable of and to energize newfound ability to keep one’s demons one’s own. Its role in calling men to account and seeking justice to “roll like a river” is to be celebrated. But are we substituting shalom reconciliation when we add public-shaming to #Metoo’s effects? Are we in danger of being unmerciful servants to those who can’t pay up like the old parable so fearfully warns against? Historically, reconciliation – restoration to wholeness – has come after what many would consider greater evils and suffering. In light of the possibilities, are we short-selling ourselves of greater good when satisfying ourselves with public demonization, no matter how justified?

A World Where Victims and Offenders Live Side-By-Side

With heinous deeds like those shared in the #Metoo outbreak, it may be helpful to look at other terrible crimes against humanity. Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR), an NGO who has established reconciliation villages where victims and perpetrators of the systematic Rwandan genocide (when 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu dissenters were killed) reside together, see a better way forward.

Alexandre Guma from PFR states that “To apologize and to forgive are one thing, but people can still go out of their way to avoid each other when they move back to their old neighbourhoods. If Rwanda is to heal, people have to confront their innermost feelings every day so suffering and anger doesn’t come to the surface again.”

Differences exist between sexual assault and genocide but there are also similarities. They are both violent acts which no one can undo, and no one can repay. How to apply what PFR is doing to the #Metoo context remains a question but what they (and others like them) point out is that healing, beyond the natural person’s horizon, is possible if we want it.