I don’t want to write this post.
The post I wanted to write today – the post I had planned – was about the brave women of #MeToo being Time magazine’s person of the year, with several who’ve been particularly public faces of the movement, including founder Tarana Burke, pictured on the cover.
That was what I wanted to write.
I realize I’m biased. Al Franken has been a consistent champion of women in the Senate since his election in 2008. He’s also been a consistent – and LOUD – and effective – critic of so-called (for now) President Trump and his not-so-merry band of racists, misogynists, xenophobes, neo-Nazis, homophobes, and religious zealots. Oh – and crooks. Let’s not forget the crooks.
I realize I’m biased. Half of Franken’s accusers are anonymous. And I’m about to say what women are DEFINITELY not supposed to say: I’m judging them for remaining anonymous. Rape is one thing, but they’re insisting on anonymity about behavior as relatively benign as “he touched my butt during a group picture” (which is what’s going on here). You really can’t provide your name about someone touching your butt during a photo shoot 10 years ago? That seems fishy to me.
I’m opening myself up to accusations of “You only care about sexual harassment when it’s done by a Republican. When it’s one of your guys, you want to let him off the hook.” Although for what it’s worth, I have no idea why Republican Representative Joe Barton was forced out when the woman who’d been his girlfriend while he was separated from his wife released naked pictures of him that were initially exchanged totally consensually. He was the VICTIM there, yo. I’m also a little fuzzy on why Trent Franks is being forced out over asking two different staffers if they’d be willing to be surrogates for him and his wife. They’re infertile and had already had twins with another surrogate, which I would guess the staffers were aware of. While it’s probably more common to either pay someone or ask a close friend, if the staffers were young and healthy, I can see why it might’ve occurred to him to ask. Unless he somehow implied that their jobs depended on saying yes, I’m not sure why we’re not looking at this as, “Well, that was an odd question, but they said no and he backed off, so what’s the problem?”
Edited to add: OK, now rumors are surfacing that Franks may have proposed impregnating the staffers via having sex with them rather than IVF, which would obviously be a completely different situation, and utterly out of bounds if accurate.
I’m opening myself up to accusations of racism. Why aren’t I crying foul over John Conyers, too? Ah, but see, to me, that is a different situation. John Conyers paid settlement money to a subordinate, and there were multiple reports of specific propositions for sex from other subordinates, including ethics complaints from 15 years ago. THAT is textbook sexual harassment. The only incidents with Franken that are reported to have taken place in a professional context are with original accuser Leeann Tweeden where they were colleagues (not boss/subordinate) on the USO tour, and Tina Dupuy, who worked on the Hill, but not for Franken.
OK, now it’s time for me to go all tin-foil hat on everyone. Which is another accusation I’m opening myself up to.
I should also point out that I was recently in a former Soviet block country and had the opportunity to visit the museum of that country’s history with communism. Two things hit me particularly hard: the role of propaganda and denying the truth (HELLO, REPUBLICAN PARTY!) and, relatedly, the role of kompromat. Kompromat was faked/doctored compromising material used to blackmail or discredit people. So maybe I’m over-sensitive about this at the moment. Another possible accusation against me.
Tin foil hat firmly in place? Let’s go.
What I’m noticing is: Republicans (so-called (for now) President Trump, Roy Moore) deny, deny, deny against strong evidence and get to stay. Democrats admit against weak evidence and are forced out. Republicans have been screaming “false accusations!” for years. “He touched my butt during a group photo 20 years ago” is neither provable nor disprovable. I’m worried. How much of a stretch would it be for Republicans to weaponize Democrats trying to do the right thing against us?
Who’s going to be targeted next? Cory Booker? Juan Castro? Chris Murphy?
Ready to consign me to whatever the left-wing equivalent of InfoWars might be?
One last point to try to argue that I haven’t gone completely off the deep end: It turns out, Republicans are already doing this. See the Sam Seder firing and re-hiring at MSNBC motivated by Neo-Nazi MRA conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. Admittedly, men shouldn’t run around making rape jokes, no matter how sweet a burn they’ve come up with about hypocrisy and Roman Polanski. But still: the alt-right had at least temporary success playing the left by weaponizing our earnest desires to do right against us. I doubt that was the first time, and I know it won’t be the last.
Image found here.
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(Although, after this post, I suspect I’m in for trolling, not “gee I really liked what you wrote!”)