Professor Lesley Wexler was quoted in a recent Washington Post story about Olympic snowboarder Shaun White's newly complex legacy. Shortly after his gold medal win, allegations of sexual misconduct against White resurfaced, and the Post piece raised the following questions:
Is it legitimate to bring up old charges simply because someone has won something new? Does White have a special responsibility as a role model who has grown rich trading off his name? With his achievements and the accusations, can he be both hero and villain at the same time?
And as his legacy is written and rewritten, will he be remembered more for his athletic successes or as one in a list of men whose achievements have been stained by accusations of sexual misconduct?
Professor Lesley Wexler says that with the rise of the #MeToo era, there are now many more mechanisms of accountability, ranging from civil and criminal action to public condemnation and social-media whisper campaigns. Someone accused of misconduct faces a choice of paths as well, she says, from acknowledging harm and taking responsibility to actually repairing the harm.
"What that entails will scale based on the severity of what was done and what the victim wants and needs," Wexler says. "Some victims may need more repair than others. Some victims may want more repair than others. We should be asking what do they want, what does the community want, and not what does Shaun White want."
She says that if White wants to move on, he needs to address his accuser's allegations more directly.
"The more clarity the better, because it reaffirms her status, as opposed to these vague, 'I’m sorry if anything I ever did wasn’t good, but I’m better now,'" she says. "He engaged in wrongdoing. If he wants to move on, in the sense of community forgiveness, victim forgiveness, then he needs to do that."
Read the full story at washingtonpost.com.