When did sexual misconduct become a partisan issue? Oh, right, only when it’s the other side’s guy that is accused.
By now, everyone surely knows about Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate representing Alabama, and now comedian-turned-Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, and the accusations of sexual misconduct levied against both.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Moore has been accused of dating or trying to date, touch and molest several teenage girls, at least one as young as 14, when he was in his 30s working as an assistant district attorney in Alabama. One particularly disturbing story notes that Moore may have been banned from his hometown mall in the 1980s because of “inappropriate behavior” around young girls there.
Franken, meanwhile, was accused by radio host Leeann Tweeden of forcibly kissing her and groping her without consent. A 2006 photo of Franken and Tweeden from a USO show pictures him grabbing at her chest while she appears to be sleeping.
To his credit, Franken has owned up to the accusations, not that doing so makes what he did any less repulsive. Moore continues to deny the accusations against him, even as evidence mounts to the contrary and more women come forward.
While scrolling Twitter Thursday night while watching the football game, as news of Franken’s actions were still fresh, my feed was inundated with comments from people on either side of the political aisle either jumping in to defend him or attack him along partisan lines, mixed in with folks who were still trying to defend Moore. It was disgusting, frankly. Two tweets, in particular, stuck out.
The first, to no surprise, was from our president. You know, the guy who can’t help but to impulsively tweet about anything and everything — yet still hadn’t waded into the conversation on Moore a week after the accusations against him came out — blasting “Al Frankenstein” and wondering where his hands went in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 … etc.
Well, if there’s anyone who knows anything about just kissing women without waiting and grabbing women’s body parts, because when you’re famous, “they let you do it. You can do anything,” I guess it would be President Trump. Of course, that was just locker room talk, right?
The hypocrisy here is astounding, but given everything we’ve learned about our commander in chief over the past two years, it’s hardly surprising.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when asked directly about the difference between Franken and her boss, who has been accused by a dozen-plus women of sexual harassment or assault, said “Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t. I think that’s a very clear distinction.” Well, that certainly is a fact. It’s also a fact that the “Access Hollywood” audio of the president exists where he basically admits to be being a sexual predator.
The issue of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct should not be a party-line issue. We don’t get to hand-wave the matter when one person is accused because they are registered to the same political party as we are, then pile on when it’s someone from the other side. The accused need to be held accountable. Period.
Meanwhile, some people still can’t get through their thick skull that it’s not women that are the problem here.
The second infuriating tweet that made my skin crawl was from someone suggesting more men adopt the “Mike Pence rule,” as an effort to stem these sorts of sexual misconduct incidents. For those unfamiliar, the vice president doesn’t dine alone with women or attend events where alcohol is served without his wife by his side. Now, my issue isn’t with the VP or his self-imposed rule, per se. Temptations of the flesh are all around us, for both men and women. To me, Pence’s rule is about avoiding adulterous, but consensual, relations. There is a part of me that questions, then, the VP’s will power, but this is a separate issue.
Suggesting that men adopt the Pence rule is essentially a way of blaming women for being sexually assaulted. Should a man need his spouse around to remind him it’s not OK to touch or grab any part of a woman’s body without her consent? Or is it that those women just dress so provocatively and are so seductive that a man shouldn’t be around them on his own, otherwise he’ll have no choice but to make a sexual advance, even if it’s unwanted.
See how ridiculous that is? Here’s a simple rule to follow: Don’t sexually harass or assault someone. Ever. Really, guys, it’s not that difficult.
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Right now, we’re in the midst of a bit of a revolution when it comes to women speaking up about men in power who have silenced them for so long. This is an amazingly positive step forward and one that, hopefully, will begin to change many men’s views on the seriousness of sexual assault. Yet, if my Twitter timeline is any indication, there are still some attitudes out there that need serious adjusting.