As a woman, hell, as a human, these past weeks of sexual harassment and abuse allegations have been pretty damn depressing. What is wrong with us? How have we stood so long for this ?
It is not that I didn’t know it happened—the concept was certainly not new to me. And I have felt frustration about it in the past, although in a more tangential and ephemeral sort of way, if I am going to be totally honest about it. But the sudden and continuous revelations that have outpoured since the Harvey Weinstein scandal entered the news cycle—I am just at my wits end.
It is no longer acceptable for this to be commonplace. If it is so rampant in our leadership, celebrity, and media world, it is clearly not limited there. This must change, and it must change now. We need a sexual re-education in this country immediately.
Forgive me if this is coming off as simplistic. I entirely understand how complex an issue it is. Of course there are degrees of abuse. Of course a pattern of abusive behavior is worse than some passing incidents. Frankly though, I am tired of giving excuses and “letting things slide”.
Take this most recent scandal with Senator Al Franken. I cannot express how disappointed I am by the whole sordid affair. I admired Senator Franken. I agree with most of his politics. I have heard him speak and found wisdom and wit in his words. I even thought about him for running for President for 2020. Now I want him to resign.
I have been having this argument with a lot of people, and have heard disagreement from both sides of the aisle (especially, but not limited to, before the second allegation came out). Some have argued that Leann Tweeden was staging it, or blowing it up as part of a conservative conspiracy. Some corners claimed that because of her past as a model or someone who had acquiesced to participate in sexually based comedic skits, meant she “wasn’t so innocent”. Some have argued the behavior of Senator Franken did not rise to the level of ending a career—that it was just “meant to be funny”. Or finally, that Senator Franken’s apology was enough atonement.
I disagree with all of these claims, at least to some degree. As to whether she was blowing it out of proportion, call me naive, but the current state of affairs has left me feeling more apt to believe her than not, even before the second woman’s claim against Senator Franken came out. Moreover, her past behavior or career choices were in no way permission for someone to take a provocative photo of her while she was sleeping, or to make her feel uncomfortable in a kissing “rehearsal”.
I wholeheartedly agree that Senator Franken’s behavior is not the worst of what others are being accused of right now. Moreover, his apology, at least in its second rendition, are certainly a better step than either the full on deniers or excuse-makers (see Roy Moore and Kevin Spacey). However, at this specific moment, with the tides of this movement shifting rapidly, drastic measures are necessary. Sacrifices must be made. Images must be projected. Leaders must rise—and for that to happen, some must fall. By resigning, and thus by setting the standard that this type of behavior is not acceptable and will result in severe consequences, I would have more faith in the endurance of this movement.
To me, the grounds are so shaky as to how much change this movement can bring about. Look at where we stand! Every day there is a new allegation. We elected Donald Trump as President versus the first woman, even after the infamous “pussy tape”, mind you the numerous sexual assault allegations lobbied against him! Today (why I am shocked I do not know) our POTUS essentially called for the people of Alabama to elect a pedophile because “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones”. ARE YOU SERIOUS? And yet here we are.
There are so many other steps that need to be taken. Reform is needed in the halls of Congress, on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley, and on Main Street. But this requires momentum and powerful leadership to set the example, from both genders.
The wounds are really fresh right now, but band-aids are not enough. There will be scars, certainly, but hey—Harry Potter had one, right? Maybe we all need a lightening bolt.