Et tu, Al?

Sen. Al Franken (Photo: AP/Rex/Shutterstock)

Sen. Al Franken (Photo: AP/Rex/Shutterstock)

For weeks I’ve watched with mixed feelings as more and more women speak out about sexual harassment from notable men in entertainment, broadcasting, and politics. I celebrate their bravery in being willing to speak up, and I despair that so many men apparently are guilty of such reprehensible behavior.

It has crossed my mind, briefly, that especially during an election season one might have cause to question the veracity of a woman making sexual accusations against a male candidate. What a great ploy this could become, getting a couple of women to publicly accuse an opponent of sexual harassment. And yet, the only right thing to do is believe them. Men who deny, of course, must also be believed. So who’s telling the truth? That’s why we have courts. But courts don’t move quickly enough to ward off “October surprises” or save a career.

I hate this. I hate that so many men suddenly seem to be guilty of vile behavior toward women. The media are having a field day and seem to think that accusations alone are enough to end careers. Employers seem to be agreeing with them. No more “boys will be boys.” At least for the moment.

For the most part I’ve felt the accusations are legitimate. And it’s easier to believe them when there are several accusers, especially when the accused is someone you don’t like. Outrage and disgust come easily.

But yesterday the newly accused was Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). I loved him as a comedian. I had doubts when he went into politics but felt he had proved himself to be intelligent, thoughtful, and moderate. So yesterday I didn’t feel angry or disgusted. I just felt deeply, deeply saddened and disappointed.

Yes, women should speak out. I’m glad that so many are. And those men who engage in such despicable behavior are now on notice that their victims may no longer remain silent.

I’m naturally biased, but I’m inclined to think most women wouldn’t lie publicly about something so personal, embarrassing, and perhaps traumatic. But in the back of my mind I remember that #MeToo and #BelieveHer are great bandwagons. As long as the parade lasts. And only as long as they aren’t misused.

I’d like to think all this will result in a fundamental, permanent change in our society. But I have my doubts.



Categories: sexism, Society

15 replies

  1. As you know, I’ve already had my say about this issue PT. But I will add that, as much as I’m hopeful we’re seeing the dawning of a new day in how we treat each other, I’m also fearful that a lot of damage will come from cases where leaps to judgement prove unwarranted much too late. Frankly, I haven’t been this anxious since the days of the McMartin Preschool trials…

    • All too often, the media publicize accusations and/or charges, doing great damage to reputations and careers. If there’s an exoneration later, or proof of innocence, it will be mentioned only in passing and come much too late. The damage will have been done. So yes, caution is in order and the potential for abuse is huge.

  2. I agree with what you’ve said but this whole deal with Franken just isn’t sitting right with me. I don’t think what he did was sexual abuse. Bad taste, yes. But not sexual abuse — I do not think he is touching or groping her. You can tell from the shadows under his hands. Yes, he is very close to her, but isn’t touching. Yes, men will be men, but women can just as stupid. I’ve done similar pranks with my girlfriends to men back in my younger days. It was all in fun. Now, don’t take that wrong, something fun should never be at anyone’s expense and I do not believe he meant for it to be. He was not attacking her. Personally, I think she’s making a big deal out of it, especially because it was quite a while ago. Sorry, but I do. Sometimes the best thing is to just let it go. What Franken did was not meant to be degrading, just stupid.

    Then for Trump to comment about it what he was on recording that it’s okay to grab women’s pussies! I caught the news earlier tonight and it brought up Franken, but it ended with Trump’s recording.

    • No, I don’t think he’s touching her in the picture, but I wonder about the aggressive kissing during the USO rehearsal. Of course, I also wonder why we’ve not heard from any other women about Franken’s behavior. As long as there’s only this one woman, I think her story is in doubt. I hate to say that, but it’s true.

      And yes, it’s crossed my mind repeatedly that while careers are being ruined right and left, Trump remains in office, an admitted abuser and proud of it. Oh yeah, he said that was only locker room talk …

      • Yeah, that forceful kissing is too much, too. I would’ve kneed him in the balls or bit his tongue. It is odd that she is the only person that’s said something about him. However, there’s no rule saying that someone has to be a serial creep. It could be the only time he did that (this kiss — I wouldn’t be surprised to see more photos like that, but all in playing around). Also, however, just because no one else has come forward doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I think about what it’d be like if something like that happened to me (I wouldn’t go blabbing about it to begin with), but let’s assume something worse. It would be devastating is people said I was lying (which is why I’d never publicize anything like that). Franken has apologized about the photo, but he says he doesn’t remember the kiss, and I believe him. Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, just means he doesn’t remember it. We are on the way to trying to become a society of “perfect.” Better not make a mistake, do something stupid, say something mean, cuz there will be a law against it. I don’t condone stupidity nor meanness, but we’re all human and make mistakes. I don’t want to be a society here it’s illegal to make a mistake.

        • You make the point that so many women would make … that they were afraid to say anything for fear people would think they were lying, especially if the man was powerful, well known, etc.

          If no other women come forward, establishing that Franken is a serial, habitual sleazeball, should the one-time indiscretion cost him this career?

  3. On a lighter note and hopefully bring some cheer to this post ,

    I recall the first night in Rome, Italy not Texas, my wife daughter and I, walking along, off to dinner, and my wife let out a great ouch!,

    An Italian man had thought her derrière well worth pinching.

    My wifes retort?

    “Cheeky bugger!”

  4. Cute story. But a different time, a different place.

    Lucky for Bill Clinton, huh?

  5. johnthecook…All the recent stories of sexual misconduct kind of reminds me of the kind of perversion back in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. And the Humanists tell us mankind is getting better and better as time progress on…NOT!

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” ~ Cornel West

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