Do guys like Louis C.K. or Charlie Rose deserve a comeback? Does any disgraced sexual predator? What has to happen before such a comeback is even possible?
These questions have been rattling around online for some time, though C.K.’s recent attempted return to stand-up raised the volume. Now, Jane Fonda has some advice for all those disgraced men to consider before they start mulling a comeback.
“Guys are trying to make a comeback and they haven’t done the work,” Fonda said during an event for her upcoming HBO documentary, Jane Fonda in Five Acts.
“It doesn’t matter how much time [they’ve been gone],” she continued. “If they haven’t done the work, then why should they come back?”
It seems like such an obvious thing. Fonda is pointing out that time away from the spotlight doesn’t mean much of anything if the time away isn’t well-spent. Guys like C.K., Rose, Aziz Ansari, Matt Lauer are dealing with the repercussions of their actions; learning from what happened and committing to be better moving forward is a huge piece of the process here.
It’s not the Fonda is calling for these men to be forever ostracized. On the contrary, she feels “we just have to fix them, or at least show them the way.” But that can’t happen, Fonda added, until there’s some recognition and correction of their problematic behavior and behavioral patterns.
“Men are trained not to be empathic, not to be emotional. So it’s not easy what they’re trying to do,” she said. “But they have to try to do it! So it doesn’t matter if it’s been two weeks or two years. It just matters what kind of changes they’ve gone through.”
There it is. So many of the thinkpieces that have surfaced defending C.K.’s right to a comeback (or anyone else’s) seem to miss this central point: It’s about growth, not about waiting until things blow over. That’s the common sense idea Fonda is zeroing in on.
Her advice for men whose bad behavior cost them a career? Try something else, and use the time away to learn from past mistakes. Even if that means you “sweep the floor at Starbucks,” she said.
“If you can’t learn, you don’t belong in the boardroom. And there are plenty of women who do belong in the boardroom.”
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