Powerful, talented men are falling all around us. Falling stars who attracted wishes and dreams and burned up women’s hopes like delicate moth wings.
We are all more than a little uncomfortable. The tower of patriarchy is crumbling. Even the foundations are cracking. We are finding that the foundation we built our culture is not bedrock but landfill and all this #metoo revelations aggregate into an earthquake. But unlike a natural disaster, this man-made disaster will clear the field for the rise of a stronger culture for both men and women.
But this powerful movement is also being exploited.
False equivalencies flow from partisan mouths. A proposition is not the same as an assault. Consensual sex with an adult is not the same as pedophilia. Harassment is not the same as rape. Even harassment has levels. I know these things from my own life experience but these are not just personal opinions. The legal and criminal codes of our country define what is a civil violation and what is criminal.
Our legal system has the tools to address harassment, rape and child abuse. Our workplaces have the policies. We need to remove the cultural and social obstacles that mute the victims while preserving due process.
We need to complete fair investigations on the accused. The court of public opinion just buries the truth in propaganda and partisanship.
I want investigations into the allegations against franken, trump and others and then fair judgement and commensurate consequences.
It looks like we are not ready for that kind of balanced action. We are in full disaster mode. The spectacle and passions drive us.
Today I’m trying to steady the ground in my own small way.
“How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?”
“That’s not funny”
My uncle laughed and then explained the joke to my son.
My son laughed.
I lectured my uncle about modeling sexism and diminishing women with cheesy jokes that made us choose between laughing along like a good sport or being ridiculed as a humorless feminist.
I said it in one breath without stopping.
Yes. I was the living punchline.
The thing is I don’t mind being seen as a humorless feminist. I’ve always found that comedy is often cruel. Cheap laughs prey on the vulnerable. Which brings me to the topic of the Al Franken scandal.
I’m angry about Al Franken and all of the other men who objectify women for pleasure, power or laughs.
His comedy and his actions are in the spotlight. Conservatives who were seeking to change the narrative from Roy Moore’s predatory pursuit of teenage girls have had some success.
Al Franken was wrong. He apologized and Leanne Tweeden, accepted his apology. Tweeden showed a lot of strength coming forward and voicing a balanced perspective.
As Tweeden stated, Al Franken has done good work in the Senate. He’s been a strong advocate for women’s rights and civil rights. He’s worked hard for some of the very groups he marginalized with mean-spirited comedy.
An apology doesn’t make everything okay. Not by a long shot.
Everyone involved including Franken agrees that an investigation is in order. I want it to be thorough and fair: a model for future investigation into Trump’s sexual assault accusations.
In the meantime, I would like Franken to stay in office and vote against every anti-woman legislation that comes up to vote. I know we can count on him for that.
We learned that even your nice guy friend could climb into your bed in the middle of the night uninvited. But he’s a nice guy right?
We learned that we would be called cockteases for not having sex and sluts for having sex.
We heard about the desperately “excruciating” blue balls and how we were obligated to relieve the pain.
We were chased through campus by guys that thought it was funny to act like they were going to rape us and hid while we heard them searching the dorm bathroom for us because we thought they just might.
We had friends’ dads’ hands linger too long on our hips as they squeezed by us in the kitchen.
We had bosses give us extravagant gifts and confess feelings that we never wanted to hear.
We watched our drinks in parties full of nice people and bars with friends.
As the headlines provide daily revelations about nice decent men who have done indecent abusive things, we are not surprised.
We have seen it our whole lives.