I am feminist AF — and I support Senator AF. Does it make me a hypocrite for supporting feminism, sexual harassment victims and Al Franken? No, it makes me rational.
I am a smart, sane woman, and therefore ipso facto I am a feminist.* Being a smart and sane women also means I can tell the difference between a single sophomoric prank and patterns that demonstrate *abuse*, misogyny and a disregard for, and disrespect of, women.
Did Al Franken once do something dumb when it came to women? Yes. Was it juvenile or boorish? Perhaps. I’m also willing to bet there isn’t a man on the entire planet that hasn’t done something dumb, inappropriate or misguided when it comes to women. But if we’re going to have a serious discussion about how sexual harassment and misogyny pervade our culture, we have to both 1) get serious, and 2) lighten up.
Nothing Says “FU, Women!” Like Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is an ancient and ongoing problem too familiar to half of America’s humans. Unlike like murder, usually a one-and-done proposition, sexual harassment by its very nature is a serial offense. Sexual harassment is a pattern of behavior that demonstrates an abiding disrespect for women, their autonomy and humanity. Their behavior says “My boner is more important than you are.” It says their momentary thrill is more important to them than any trauma experienced by their victims. Groping speaks louder than words… it’s practically deafening.
Take Roy Moore (please). He’s a man known for his sexist views about women, and who admits to dating teenagers when he was in his thirties (with their mothers’ permission, of course). If you aren’t inclined to believe the women who’ve gone on the record about his molestation and predation, then one can look to the fact that the District Attorney was barred from a shopping center due to a level of blatant creepiness even Alabama mall police couldn’t stomach. Moore was a predator with a pattern of stalking and molesting young girls. He remains not only unrepentant but vacillates between denying and excusing his behavior, when he’s not attacking his victims a second-time with malicious slander.
The illiterate bully currently in the Oval Office also has a history – a long history – of molestation and misogyny. We not only have his victims’ recollections, but we have him on tape boasting of his habit of grotesque sexual assaults and preying on teen girls in pageant dressing rooms. Donald Trump also makes clear his misogyny by vilifying his victims, calling them liars and labeling them too ugly to merit his molestation.
Sexual Harassment: Babies and Bathwater
Trump and Moore have a history in word, deed and ideology of disdaining women. Senator Al Franken has a history of defending and promoting women and women’s issues. It’s clear that American women are far better off with Senator Franken in power. On the other hand, it’s clear women should think twice before sharing an elevator with either Roy or Donald.
To lump Al Franken in with the sexual harassers in the news is not only an apples and oranges situation, it’s a baby/bathwater situation. Women, we are strong and savvy enough to know the difference between our allies and our enemies.
Let’s roll our eyes at buffoonish incidents and save any persecution (and hopefully prosecution) for those men whose actions and ideologies routinely make women’s lives more difficult. Let’s be hard on men who show us their hard-ons, kick the asses of men who grab our asses (and other parts) and use the occasional eff-up as a teachable moment for men who are our allies. Let’s not fight good men; let’s enlist them.
Women NEED men like Al Franken. Let’s accept his apology, move on, grow up, and get down to the business of making sexual harassment a thing of the past.
*Do I really have to define feminism as simply the belief women should be included in the human race and be treated with equality and respect? If you think feminism means I hate the opposite sex, or that I dance naked in the moonlight with the femur bones of sexual harassers I’ve killed tied around my waist, you can stop reading right now. Because you’re kind of an idiot.