I've been sitting over here waiting for the bomb to drop.
While story after story of sexual assault broke over that past few weeks, I remained safe in my little bubble--"Well, duh Harvey Weinstein is awful" or "I never thought Louie was all that great anyway, and now I feel vindicated."
But I knew eventually, just based on sheer volume, someone I admired would wind up getting accused of inappropriate behavior. It was only a matter of time.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I present Sen. Al Franken.
He's my guy. I loved every second of his grilling of Jeff Sessions in his appointment hearing. I read two of Franken's books over the summer and spent the next few months telling basically anyone who would listen to me how brilliant he was, and how he was exactly the type of politician we needed. "He cares about his constituents first. He has friends across the aisle. He's all about learning what he doesn't know...unlike some orange people we know."
Anything "inappropriate" from his past was filtered through the "dehumorizer" from the right--they didn't get the jokes, they knowingly took things out of context. They didn't understand what it was like to go from being a comedian to a public servant.
But now there's a picture of a woman with her eyes closed being fondled by Al Franken.
I don't want to believe it's true, because it's easier that way. It allows me to keep believing that Sen. Franken is part of the solution, not the problem. My heart wants to poke holes in her story, because the reality fucking sucks. (And the internet is already doing this for me, so I won't do it for you here.)
We don't do that anymore. We believe women first. Even if it means your hero isn't as unimpeachable as you thought he was, even though you assumed he'd already aired every stitch of dirty laundry over the course of several very candid books.
We have to believe--until proven otherwise--that her account is the truth. Because for decades and centuries we've done it the other way. It's no longer innocent until proven guilty. Men are sexual predators until proven not to be.
Sorry, guys. That's just the way things are. Sucks not to be believed, doesn't it?
But where do we go from here? In Sen. Franken's case, if this turns out to be an isolated incident (which, come on, they hardly ever are these days), what does that mean for him, or for other legislators who may find themselves the subject of accusations? (Because isn't this a great way to dispatch with a political opponent?) Is there any coming back from this? Should there be? Do we draw a line in the sand that says "we will forgive acts of minor harassment/groping that occurred before the Weinstein situation of '17 if no more than two(2) incidents are reported?"
But what's a "minor" incident? How do we measure the pain and silent suffering (emotional, professional) these women had to endure?
Do we chuck out every lecherous man who's ever looked at a woman crosseyed? Maybe we do. Because maybe they've run the game for so long, and they've proven that they can't handle the power.
Do we give them time in the penalty box?
Do we ask for heartfelt apologies and promises of better behavior in the future?
We need to figure these things out, because this problem isn't going away. Maybe your hero hasn't been outed yet, but chances are he will be. Chances are someone you've loved and admired is going to be exposed as an total asshole.
And then what?
Do you like rom-coms? How about Hallmark Christmas movies? Well, you can buy my new book, APPROXIMATELY YOURS, here.
And check out my other three novels, including the prequels to APPROXIMATELY YOURS, right here.
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