Al Franken and the Monster Myth
I take no pleasure in Al Franken’s departure from the Senate, but my greatest sorrow is for what he did-that photo of him “pretending” to grope a sleeping woman revolts me, and I believe Ms. Tweeden’s report that he stuck his tongue, unwanted, into her mouth. Although I will miss his smart and progressive voice in Congress, I am confident that there are other Minnesotans (including women) who can serve his state well. I am also hopeful that recent events are revealing what I have long called “the Monster Myth”-the false notion that only evil, awful, men engage in sexual misconduct.
We are in the initial stages of a new national experiment in treating women as credible rather than crazy, and ought to budget ample time and space so that women’s justified rage and grief-whether long suppressed or newly triggered-can be expressed. We should also recognize that lacking experience in holding men accountable for the ways in which they subordinate women makes doing so scary and difficult. But we have to do it- it is long past time that we stop protecting men from the harmful consequences of their sexually abusive conduct. I hope that we can all remember that just as women have never been “ruined” by being sexually violated, neither will men be “ruined” by being made to answer for their behavior.
In the current tidal wave of #metoo stories unleashed by reporting on Harvey Weinstein, we are finally hearing the primal screams triggered by the shock of being groped, masturbated at, or worse. Many are now learning that wherever sexual violation lands on the spectrum from forced kiss to rape, sorrow and rage are its wake. And we are being buffeted by more than just the emotions of survivors: as men from every community are revealed as harassers, gropers, or rapists, we are collectively experiencing the heartbreak that comes from learning that perpetrators are men we care about.
Before, it was easy for people without a lived experience of sexual violation to think that only monsters engage in such behavior. It is still difficult for people to accept that sexual violation doesn’t require monstrous intent. But it has always been…
Column from Huff Post published on 12/8/2017