I was very disappointed when the news broke about Al Franken unwanted kiss and groping of newscaster Leeann Tweeden. As of this post, comparing Al Franken's incident with Roy Moore's pedophilia is a false equivalency. The event demands that Progressives are consistent in their admonition of the behavior for two specific reasons.
Right after I read the most comprehensive account of the story, I posted the following Facebook post which created a very healthy debate.
I love what Al Franken has become for our Progressive Movement. But a man imposing himself physically on a woman or vice versa is assault
I've looked back in my past to see if I was capable of forcing myself on someone and it seems so foreign that I really cannot understand how a man could feel "manly" (not in a sexist way of course) if he had to impose himself on a woman who did not welcome his advances.
It pains me to say this. ALL these men, politicians, executives, folks in power, who are credibly proven to have knowingly imposed themselves unwantedly on women must pay a price by losing their current position of power. This applies to Al Franken, Roy Moore, and everyone else. If you have a daughter, a niece, etc., you must feel that way.
That said, this must expand to identity-based abuse; race, sexual orientation, etc. Just maybe if there is a price to pay by people in power against others, it will help change our society in the aggregate.
Progressives are all over the map on this issue. We were in unison about the 30+ year allegations justifiably against Roy Moore. Many want to wait for an ethics committee to review Senator Al Franken. Others claim that it is a Right Wing setup. It just may be.
In this type of nonconsensual event, it should not matter if it is the Right Wing machine that brought it to light. The photo is real and is an objectification of a woman. One cannot condone that. The forced kissed is a he-said-she-said, but the picture could be probative of behavior.
Millions of men out there would not have performed a stunt simulating grabbing a woman's breast and taking a photo of it. While it is impossible to know if the woman or Al is telling the absolute truth, the picture says that Al would simulate playing with the breast of a sleeping woman. That is not cool.
Look, I am no prude. I like pranks and having fun. Nor am I self-righteous. I have screwed up throughout my life. At what point does a joke cross the line for a person?
It is far too easy for some sexists, misogynists, racists, homophobes, and the like to always get off by saying I am sorry. I think it is the reason much has not changed.
Should Al resign when we have a President that has done worse? Is this about gradation of offenses? One thing I know is that having him there muddle the waters when Progressives come out strongly for women or any other identities. I am feeling incredibly pissed right now, and I try to hold back on that before writing. I am pissed because of the wrench in our movement.
The sexist, misogynistic epidemic has been in existence longer than any of our lives. Progressives must be consistent as our job is to rectify long-standing inequities and injustices. More importantly, hypocrisy allows the Right to create plausible false equivalencies.
Also published on Medium.