TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2017 is a group of persons, “the silence breakers,” the women (and the men, too, although no men are included in the cover photo [yes, that’s Taylor Swift at the right and Ashley Judd at the left]) who have broken their silence about having been sexually harassed to sexually assaulted.*
Interestingly, the first runner-up for TIME’s “Person of the Year” is The Pussygrabber in Chief, who remains in the Oval Office even while in other news today, six female Democratic U.S. senators have called for Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign.
So much to unpack here…
OK, so when I first wrote about Al Franken, only one woman had said that he had sexually harassed to sexually assaulted her, and she publicly stated that she didn’t believe that he should step down over it.
Since then, however, other women have given similar accounts, and while I believe in due process, I can’t be mad at calls for Franken’s resignation at this point.
That said, it still strikes me that it ultimately is up to the voters of Minnesota to decide Franken’s fate should he steadfastly refuse to heed the calls for his resignation. That and Franken already is being investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee.
That said, at this point he probably is politically tarnished forever, whether that is fair or not. (Um, I think it’s safe to say that he’ll never be president.) He could have survived one allegation of sexual impropriety — perhaps especially since his alleged victim has said that she has forgiven him — but not many of them (a total of seven of them thus far, to my understanding).
As U.S. Rep. John Conyers recently learned, even if you say initially that you’re not going to resign because of allegations of sexual impropriety, if you don’t have the political support of your colleagues in Congress, you’re fighting a losing battle to try to stay if they want you to go.
(And Conyers saying that he wants his son to succeed him reeks of corruption. What the fuck? I lost all remaining respect for Conyers after I learned of that. We are to be a democracy, not a collection of little dynasties, which is one of the many reasons that I could not support Billary Clinton.)
I’m fine with TIME’s “Person of the Year” choice (although I’m disappointed to see that “the DREAMers” weren’t even among the six runners-up) because women — and men — have the right to a non-hostile workplace environment, which among other things means not being sexually harassed to sexually assaulted. That’s indisputable.
And I hope that the focus on the problem leads to drastically fewer cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. I hope that it makes all of us more aware of how we use and abuse our personal power, and I hope that it makes the victims of the abuse of personal power less afraid to speak out.
And I tend to believe an accuser, especially when there are many accusers against one alleged perpetrator.
At least six women had accused Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger of sexual improprieties before he became California governor in a bullshit gubernatorial recall election in 2003, for example. Team Schwarzenegger, including his then-wife Maria Shriver, directly or indirectly called all of the women liars. (Shriver would go on to split from the Gropinator the year after he left office, after it was made public that their housekeeper had borne him a son.)
As I wrote recently, I want to see women gain the representative power that they deserve — as I wrote, it’s long overdue — but it’s too bad that this is coming under the dark, ugly cloud of allegations, most of them probably true, of men abusing their power (sexually and otherwise). I’d much rather see women come into the power that they deserve via much more positive vehicles, but this is what it is.
What I hope we don’t see is a war on men, probably especially on white men. Of course not all white men are evil, and a war on the members of about a third of the U.S. population probably isn’t a good idea, politically or practically (Hello, Team Billary, from this “Bernie bro”!).
At its extreme, the hatred of white men becomes something like the black female nurse of Indiana who recently lost her job after having proclaimed that white male babies should be killed before they grow up to be monsters.
“Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer, and domestic violence all star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves Bitch,” read the lovely tweet from the grammar- and punctuation-challenged nurse, who obviously shouldn’t be allowed in the vicinity of any white male patients.
Locally and recently, three young black men have been accused of having killed an 87-year-old woman whom they pushed over while they were fleeing a pharmacy that they had just robbed (of narcotics, I assume).
That’s just one of many possible crime stories involving black male perpetrators, but I have yet to call for a King-Herod-like slaughter of all black male babies, but in this current, toxic political environment, apparently in many quarters it’s fine to go so far as to call for the slaughter of all white male babies. Nip it in the bud, you know!
Further injustices perpetrated against the innocent of the present don’t correct the injustices of the past, and I’m on your side until and unless you start advocating that injustices be done to the innocent of the present to satiate your own sick thirst for revenge. No, I’m not on board with your wholesale war against white men, whoever you are.
My point is that the culture and the morality — and the collective intellect — of the United States of America are far too debased and degraded for us to collectively be able to make overdue changes, corrections and improvements without a good number of us also wanting to punish the innocent of the present — based simply upon how they were born (the worst being born a white male, of course) — for the wrongdoings done by others in the past, most of them long dead.
This is revenge posing as “justice,” and it’s not even real revenge when it’s taken out upon those who never even did anything wrong themselves. Revenge is something that is taken upon the actual wrongdoers. Fucking duh. (Again: We are a rather stupid nation.)
So: Let’s continue to fight for equality for women (and for girls, of course) and for non-whites. Let’s continue to make it a more perfect union.
But in that process, let’s not become just like those whom we condemn.
Update: That was fast. Since I first posted this, the list of Democratic U.S. senators who have called for Al Franken’s resignation has grown to more than 20, including male senators as well as female senators.
Franken is, methinks, toast, and reportedly he is going to make a statement tomorrow — he will announce his resignation, I’m thinking.
Again, you can’t function in Congress when too many of your colleagues are calling for your resignation, whether fairly or unfairly…
Are only Democratic elected officials expected to resign over allegations of sexual impropriety?
And don’t even get me started on serial sex criminal Repugnican Roy Moore, whom the inbred mouth-breathers in Alabama are poised to elect to the U.S. Senate next week.
*It’s important to define our terms. I define “sexual harassment” as sexual impropriety that falls short of actual unwanted physical contact, such as showing another pornographic images that she or he does not wish to see and making unwanted lewd comments to another.
Wikipedia defines “sexual assault” as “a sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against [her or his] will, or non-consensual sexual touching of a person,” noting that such acts as groping, rape and sexual torture fall under the umbrella of “sexual assault.”
I long have thought of such things as groping and rape as “sexual battery,” but I’ll accept Wikipedia’s definition of “sexual assault” for my purposes here.