DAVE MEINERT AND THE DUDE APOLOGY FORMULA

By now, if you’re a Seattleite who enjoys going out, seeing music, or knows anyone who does, you’ve doubtlessly heard the news about Dave Meinert. I mean, you’d probably heard of him before that, as there’s a good chance you’ve been to a festival he promoted, seen a band he championed, or ate at a famous institution he saved from destruction. 

But yes. Yet another powerful man has been accused of rape. Read the entire KUOW article; it’s a brutal read, but necessary. These are violent, traumatizing and invasive acts that Dave Meinert is accused of. There can often be an instinct amongst boys-club power brokers to dismiss things offhand. These dismissals used to read something like so: “She’s completely off base/crazy/has a vendetta and should not  be believed!” These days it reads like: “I respect and value women. It’s incredibly brave of these women to come forward with their stories, and it’s vital that we, as a society, believe women and amplify their stories. However, these particular women are not to believed. Or respected.”

In the days– hours, even– after the KUOW story came out, Meinert posted on Facebook. Find it if you want; I’m not here to amplify a rapist’s equivocations. His post was equal parts apology, denial, and favor-seeking. It followed a depressingly predictable pattern, one we’ve seen over the last year as powerful man after powerful man is forced to deal with– or at least acknowledge– the damage his crimes have caused.

Key ingredients of Meinert’s fb post and his comments to KUOW include:

  • “I’m not perfect.” Really? You aren’t? Because we totally thought you were. Look, I’m not perfect. NO ONE is perfect. Admitting this is like saying “sometimes I breathe.” We all do, and we feel your pain. By saying “I’m not perfect,” he’s trying to get us to think about ways WE aren’t perfect. It’s deflection. You can also be not perfect without raping anyone. 
  • “I’ll admit that I was handsy.” HANDSY. REALLY. I do not think that Dave Meinert talks this way. I think he purposefully chose a term that brings to mind the “good” old days, as if he were Don Draper, or the Sergeant from Beetle Bailey. Just a mischievous dude who “appreciates the female form.” “Handsy” was a deliberate deflection, on Meinert’s part, as if these allegations are an assault on a flawed, but understandable “old school” way of doing things. But make no mistake. Meinert isn’t being accused of making inappropriate jokes, or giving too-long hugs; he’s accused of violent crimes. The fact that they are against women shouldn’t make a difference, but it does. America values women and their stories less than it does men. This needs to change, but it hasn’t yet.
  • “Things that happened a long time ago.” Not things you did. Not things you’re accused of. Just things that “happened” somehow. Sex was had. Mistakes were made. Things happened. It was a long time ago.
  • He’s trying to do  better, and be better. He’s a Dad now! Did you know that you can be a Dad and still be shitty? Now I’m not going to deny anyone’s personal journey; but “better” is  just. so. vague. Know what would back it up? Proof. Something. Anything. You going to therapy, Dave? Have you made any sort of individual amends? What does “trying to do better” mean, in this context?

Which brings me to my next point:

Dudes who are using this as an opportunity to get cookies, or prove your bona fides as an ally without risking anything: PLEASE STOP.

Dave Meinert is an admitted sexual harasser (“handsy” and “pushy” quite literally mean “groping” and “violating boundaries”) and an alleged rapist. Minutes to days after these allegations, many, many men posted statements that managed to be both self-flagellating and self-aggrandizing.

Let’s look at the ingredients of these:

  • “I believe women.” Great. How revolutionary of you.
  • “I’ve been shitty/problematic/a jerk in the past and I’m trying to do better.” Great, how? I mean, don’t get me wrong– I have ALSO BEEN SHITTY– but vaguebooking about it does way less than apologizing specifically to the people in question. How are you doing better? This isn’t rhetorical, I’d like to know because maybe we can all hold each other to higher standards.
  • “I knew something was off, and I apologize for turning a blind eye.” A blind eye to WHAT? What did you see? What did you know? All of these posts fail to mention anyone by name, let alone any specific acts. Saying “hey, I’m gonna do a better job listening to women and also I know I’m part of the problem” is the shittiest Catholic confession ever; you get absolution, and even some acclaim, without having to do anything, or actually change your actions or attitudes.

Make no mistake; Dave Meinert is keeping track of who says what and when. A man with less money and influence would already be in jail, and he hired a crisis PR firm . . . two months ago. He knew this was coming and is already planning his rehabilitation. A lot of people owe him favors; if you are one of those people, now is the time to put up or shut up. And you know what? Saying “I chose not to know anything because I didn’t want to because Meinert and I had a business relationship” is . . . fine. It’s not gonna get you points. No one’s gonna pat you on the back and tell you that you’re “one of the good ones.” But it’s real, and it’s a helluvalot better than copping fake contrition.

Dudes: we have to do better. When we are sorry, we have to say what for. When we’ve been looking the other way, we need to say what from. And when we’re actively benefitting from the systems that allow abuses to go unchecked, we need to stop, or at least stop expecting a cookie.


Also published on Medium.