The false equivalency of Roy Moore and Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken has a background as a comedian, so, yes, we will find inappropriate stuff there.

Al Franken did a stupid thing. He posed for a photo where he pretended he was about to grope a sleeping woman’s breasts.

The woman who took the photo said it was staged. Franken apologized and called for an investigation of the incident.

The woman in the photo claimed he kissed her, without her permission. If this is true, it is an assault. But given the conflicting testimony, and the fact that no one else has come forward with the same kind of story, I want to see the results of an investigation before I join the Franken-should-resign chorus. If he did, indeed, assault this woman, he needs to go. If he did not, his call for an investigation, his apology and her acceptance of it, are OK with me.

I say this as a survivor of assault that began when I was 3 and continued throughout my childhood.

I say this as a survivor of assault as an adult.

I say this as a woman who has been groped and harassed in the workplace.

I say this as a reasonable human being.

Moore, on the other hand, “dated” a number of teenage girls while in his 30s, and according to the testimony of not one, but five, women, he attempted to get physical with them.

Moore’s brand of religion is no different than that of fundamentalist Islam or Judaism. It denigrates women. It considers us the daughters of Eve and guilty of her Original Sin, which is seduction.

In this world view, women are evil and must be controlled by men. We can not make our own decisions, we can not be left to our own devices. We are not equal in any way, and we can be owned in much the same way as a dog. The only difference is that we are trained to please men sexually and we are good for nothing more than bearing their children and cleaning up their messes.

In this world view, we have no rights of our own, and we can be married off as soon as we start menstruating so that our husbands can train us to be good servants to them.

Moore is not a pedophile by definition — pedophiles are attracted to pre-pubescent children and Moore “dated” adolescents.

He believes he did nothing wrong, and according to his religious beliefs, he is correct.

But according to social mores, according to the rest us, who do not subscribe to his backward religious views, he is a menace.

Like Mike Pence, he would love to legislate his views, views that would take legal rights away from women and people of color. Remember, this is a man who has complained in public about “new rights” given to black people in the 1960s.

In Moore’s view, women are always at fault when they are assaulted because their mere existence tempts men.

And don’t tell me I don’t understand his religion — I was raised in it. My parents never subscribed to it, but I went with friends to a church that believed all this drecht, and I suffered for it. I was part of that church, although I was able to walk away when I was 18 and saw just how harmful its theology was. Many of my friends were trapped in it by parents who bought these beliefs. They were forced to choose between their families and sanity.

So, yes, I can defend Al Franken while I call out Roy Moore. And I don’t think I’m rationalizing or being hypocritical.

To say their offenses are equal is just plain false. Moore is driven by a self-righteous, wrong-headed world view in which women are there to please him, care for his needs and bear his children, and he wants to force the rest of us to live by that world view. That is not the same thing as a bad joke, which is what the complaint against AL Franken seems to be.

I’m trying to look at the whole person here, and I can’t see any equivalency between a religious zealot and someone who got into politics to try to fight the takeover of Congress by people like this zealot.

As for the current occupant of the White House, he is a confessed sexual predator who only complains about sexual predation if it comes from someone who doesn’t support him. He is fine with a man who wanted to marry a teenage girl and train her to be a good wife, much the way others would train a circus animal, but he thinks Al Franken is a pig.

I’ve taken some time to think about this, and unless there are more complaints from women who have been victimized by Franken and until there is the investigation that Franken himself called for, I’m not going to join the call for him to resign.

Unlike Moore, Franken has a long history of defending women’s rights and the rights of people of color.¬†Yes, what he did was stupid and in poor taste. But if that were the bar, the Mango Menace should have been gone before his political career ever started.

 

 

 

I was the victim, not the perpetrator.

 

I was 3 here. My older sister was 6.

 

I was 3 the first time I was violated.

I don’t remember a time when my body was mine. From that first violation until I was almost 12 and I finally told him to stop, my abuser owned my body.

I remember the hush money. I can still see my chubby little fingers closing around the quarter — which was a lot of money to a little girl in the late 1950s.

I didn’t really need the money to keep me quiet because I knew I was the one at fault. I must have had one hell of a precocious come-hither look. Or maybe it was the way the lace on my ankle socks rested on my patent leather dress shoes.

In the theology I was carefully taught at church, any abuse was my fault because I was a daughter of Eve and therefore just as guilty as she of original sin, which was, of course, seduction.

Sex wasn’t discussed. Bodies weren’t discussed. Our vaginas were referred to as “down there.” Questions about anything to do with sex were answered with, “You’re too young to know that.”

All the while, I knew that; I also knew it was dirty and never to be mentioned because good girls didn’t talk about anything that went on with “down there.”

So, in this atmosphere of secrecy, my grandfather got away with molesting me for eight years.

As an adult, I was raped repeatedly by someone who was supposed to love me. He loved me so much he insisted we have sex when he felt like it, no matter how I felt.

I was never alone if he thought I would be naked. He followed me into the shower to grope me. Even when I changed my clothes, there he was, groping and sometimes insisting I satisfy him because it was my “duty.”

Since I had said yes, even once, that was license for him to take what he wanted whenever he wanted it. At the time, his actions were perfectly legal.

I know I am not alone in either of these experiences.

At work, I was told I was less than a man. I made less, even though I often did the job a lot better than men in similar positions.

If a colleague groped at me or made passes at me, it was my fault, or it was, “That’s our Bob! Heh, heh.”

At every turn I was made to feel less than men.

Sometimes, there was a boss who was on my side. When I sold ads for the weekly paper, the Rockland Review, and a client cornered me in a back room, I was able to escape because I knew not to let a man get between me and the door. I was a mess when I got back to the office. The boss heard me out, then he went to the business owner and told him if he ever touched me — or any other employee of the paper — the boss would educate him about proper behavior with a baseball bat. The man tried to say I had been flirting with him, but my boss wasn’t having any of that.

“Why would she flirt with you?” the boss asked. “You’re a creep.”

That’s another thing — the number of men who think they’re irresistible, or who want to make a woman feel guilty for rejecting them.

There was the military recruiter, Navy, I think, who made a pass at me while I was there to interview him for a story. Within moments of my arrival, he was suggesting we continue the conversation at his apartment.

I said no.

“What, don’t you find me attractive?” he asked.

“Frankly, no,” I said. “I find you offensive and I’m sure your superior officer will find your remarks as inappropriate as I do.”

That shut him up.

But standing up to men who think they’re entitled to sexual gratification because you have a vagina doesn’t always work. Some men think they can take what they want.

They might insult you: “Well, I don’t know why you’re saying no to me. It’s not like you’re beautiful. You should jump at the chance.” Yes, a man actually said this to me.

Or they might try to just take what they want because, well, they’re bigger and stronger and you have a vagina, which is the perfect place for him to park his penis.

That’s why I know to carry my keys pointing out of my fist so I can gouge your eyes out if you think you’re going to force yourself on me.

That’s why I don’t get into elevators alone, and if everyone gets off and a man gets on, I get off.

That’s why I don’t take the stairs at night.

That’s why I check around my car before I get in.

That’s why I don’t offer rides to men I don’t know well. I mean, really well.

That’s why I don’t answer the door if I’m home alone.

That’s why I ask to see ID when a repairman comes to the door, and it’s why I don’t let anyone in unless I have called for a repairman.

You get the gist.

In all the flurries of “Me, too,” I have seen a few men, and my heart goes out to them.

But even more, I have seen women — friends — divulge for the first time that they are among the women who have been harassed, abused or assaulted. I know even more women who still can’t come out and say it in public.

I have also seen a few men try to mansplain why men are not at fault. I had it out with one who insisted women lie.

I hated to drop the F-bomb on another person’s time line, but I did. He wouldn’t stop, no matter how many women came on to tell him he was wrong. He just kept defending his position, through dozens of posts, until I womansplained that his behavior — insisting he was right even after it was clear he was wrong and not shutting up until everyone agreed with him, even though he was clearly wrong — was a hallmark behavior of an abusive personality.

Another man posted a “me, too,” but then went on to say it was an ugly woman at work who harassed him. So, does that mean he would have been less offended if a pretty woman had suggested they have a sexual encounter?

I called him out and other men came on to defend him, calling me a drama queen. One man even went into great detail to mansplain how men really aren’t the problem here. I dropped the F-bomb again and blocked the offender.

So, here’s the reason for harassment, abuse and assault of women: Men who harass, abuse and assault women.

It’s a culture that sees men as entitled and women as at fault.

It’s a culture where women and children aren’t believed.

It’s a culture that doesn’t value women but sees us as vessels of men’s pleasure and the source of the children who will fight their wars.

It’s a culture that will place an admitted sexual predator into the highest office in the land.

It’s a culture that “protects” victims of sexual predation by not naming them, as though they were the perpetrators.

Well, my name is Leslie Boyd and I was the victim of many, many crimes. And I’m here to say we women are coming for your male privilege.

#MeToo.

 

 

 

 

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