Can people change?
Of course they can. As a feminist, and an activist, I have to believe that people can change, and that change in a societal sense can happen too, otherwise what's the point?
And to that end I believe that people do deserve another chance, in most circumstances, as long as they have actually changed, or at least show a commitment to changing.
At the Hand Mirror we talk a lot about rape and violence, particularly towards women and girls, and we have discussed a great deal some of the high profile cases like those around Tony Veitch and Clint Rickards et al. Sometimes I can get too lost in the maze of why and how and who to see the way out. And above the exit to that maze must surely be writ large the word CHANGE.
Maia wrote a while back of a man who changed. Central to change, and the second chances that come with it, must surely be acknowledging what you did, and seeking for reasons. Reasons are different from excuses. Reasons explain how and why things happened, without explaining them away. Without knowing how and why something happened surely we can't be certain we'll stop it happening again? Which is one of the reasons that on Thursdays I try to get up a post about initiatives aimed at creating change around violence.
There are other areas where change is necessary and, I hope, possible. Without getting too much into the nitty gritty of the situation with Richard Worth, it seems to me that in cases of harassment often the thing that needs to change is the sense of entitlement of the harasser. There is a fine line sometimes between stalking and courting, and to me that line is clearly drawn when one party says anything along the lines of "please back off, I am not interested." That presupposes of course that both parties are equally able to do that, but that's for another post. This one is about creating a world in which everyone, man or woman, would respect a "No", would be able to pick up on a possible "No" and seek further clarification, and would be able to say "No". To me the first thing we need to change in that equation is the perception amongst some that "No", however it is worded, means "Just try a bit harder."
I do believe in second chances, because I believe people can change. However I'm reluctant to give a second chance to someone who shows no evidence they have taken the first crucial step towards real change; admitting that they need to change and not making excuses about it.