Something broke, is breaking still
December 7, 2017 5:35 AM   Subscribe

The use of sexual frustration and weaponized misogyny in the radicalization of young men is consistent across ideologies, and the entitlement that underlies it is not exclusive to fascist movements. - The Consent of the (Un)governed, Laurie Penny on #metoo, neoliberalism, the alt-right and the breaking point the world finds itself at today.
posted by Artw (141 comments total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
 
punk rock. :) Thanks for posting.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:27 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


"The use of sexual frustration and weaponized misogyny in the radicalization of young men is consistent across ideologies, and the entitlement that underlies it is not exclusive to fascist movements." - Quoted for Troooooth
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:40 AM on December 7 [34 favorites]


“If we actually ask people what they want, we might have to give it to them. Just as men who mouth the language of erotic liberation remain terrified of women’s sexual agency, the political class has always feared mob rule.”

Yes, yes, yes. This is true across all kinds of power gradients. Even those who profess to want to help the disadvantaged only are interested in their own templates. They don’t want to know at all what “those people” really want.
posted by BrashTech at 7:06 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]


“ ... warming their tiny, grasping hands over the trash fire of civil society.” Wow
posted by asavage at 7:19 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


We all want a better world, but would we, who are so entrenched in the old ways, be capable of living in it, or even want to?

At best, we are all Moses, leading the people to the Promised Land but finding ourselves unable to enter.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:30 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Faint of Butt: does that even matter?

I'd love to know a better world is out there even if I can't stay; the worst thing about the present is the despair at the lack of alternatives.
posted by cstross at 7:49 AM on December 7 [37 favorites]


We all want a better world, but would we, who are so entrenched in the old ways, be capable of living in it, or even want to?


As a woman, I can say um fucking YES we are capable of living in a world where sex isn't weaponized and power isn't fetishized. And YES we want to. So who do we have to talk to around here? (flips hair)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:09 AM on December 7 [72 favorites]


Wow. That entire piece is just one pull quote after another. I don't really have anything further to offer other than I want to let it settle in, and then re-read it, and then pass it on to everyone I know (not necessarily in that order).
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:19 AM on December 7 [13 favorites]


Something broke, is breaking still. Not like a glass breaks or like a heart breaks, but like the shell of an egg breaks — inexorably, and from the inside.

"Smashed on the edge of a bowl, and its contents whisked together until blended beyond recognition"

The birth metaphor was better, but still.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:21 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


What an exhilarating read; I'm glad she ended on a note of hope. "That entire piece is just one pull quote after another": yes, and I'm going to pull a couple. Here:
We know the world doesn’t work the way most of us want it to. We watch a bunch of badly-fitted suits stuffed with self-satisfied swagger frogmarch our nations down the road to economic calamity and climate destruction, and we try to tell ourselves that we chose this, that we have some sort of control, that there is a thing called democracy that is working more or less as it was designed to. We want to believe that some of this is our fault, because if it isn’t, then maybe we can’t do anything to stop it. This is more or less the experience of being a citizen of a notionally liberal, notionally democratic country these days. It is depressing and scary. And if we ever actually speak about it honestly we can count on being dismissed as crazy or bullied into silence, so it’s easier to swallow our rage, to bear up and make the best of things and try not to start drinking before noon every day. Being as furious as we want feels like it might be fatal, so we try not to be too angry. Or we direct our anger elsewhere. Or we turn it inwards. Or we check out altogether.

Sound familiar? That’s about how most women experience sexuality.
And here:
Not every powerful man in Hollywood is a Weinstein-level scumbag, but a huge number of them saw the scumbaggery and said nothing. Not every member of the Washington establishment approves of Trump, but a great many of them decided they could work with him, and most continue to do so. A society that enables and facilitates abuse — of women, of children, of citizens — is not a free society. It is something else.
It's wonderful that these truths are being spoken, and being heard. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 8:23 AM on December 7 [43 favorites]


I love the full egg quote:
Something broke, is breaking still. Not like a glass breaks or like a heart breaks, but like the shell of an egg breaks — inexorably, and from the inside. Something wet and angry is fighting its way out of the dark, and it has claws.
posted by Lexica at 8:44 AM on December 7 [36 favorites]


Al Franken just resigned, for what it’s worth. Trump will remain president till he dies, and Roy Moore will be the next Senator from Alabama for so long as he cares to continue in that office. It is depressingly apparent that Mike Pence’s rule about never allowing himself to be alone with an unrelated woman will be the only publicly acceptable equilibrium of gender relations for the rest of my life. As a man, I’m not saying this as an expression of hostility, merely as a statement of my resignation and despair.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 9:19 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


Captain: It will only be "the only publically acceptible equilibrium" if you give up and let it become so.

Don't let it become so. Call that shit out when you see it happen. Shame other guys who do it. Teach your sons not to do it. Hold people accountable WHEN they do it. Could doing this be dangerous? yes - but tough shit. It's dangerous for women to LIVE it, and it's been dangerous for us to live it for a couple of millennia now. yes, it's dangerous, join the fucking club. But don't let it win.

Like Tori told Lloyd Dobler - "there are lots of guys in the world. Be a man, don't be a guy."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 AM on December 7 [39 favorites]


I don’t mean to threadsit, but I’d be a lot more comfortable having this politico-cultural freak-out if I saw any evidence that it was also taking place in conservative circles. I have not. I’m a lefty guy, and I’ve just turned 40. I don’t want to live in Trumpland for the rest of my adult life. I fear we’re just wasting our energy self-destructively in a time when we are powerless and most of all need to be united.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 9:34 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


"Now, there's this about cynicism... It's the universe's most supine moral position. Real comfortable. If nothing can be done, then you're not some kind of shit for not doing it, and you can lie there and stink to yourself in perfect peace." - Lois McMaster Bujold
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:46 AM on December 7 [57 favorites]


Al Franken is not irreplaceable. None of these men are irreplaceable.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:49 AM on December 7 [62 favorites]


I fear we’re just wasting our energy self-destructively in a time when we are powerless and most of all need to be united.

Ejecting predators is how we stay united. When we protect predators, we tell their victims that we aren't safe. When we remove them, we show their victims that we stand with them.

The Republicans are making a Faustian bargain here, and they will find out that the devil's bill always comes due.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:54 AM on December 7 [63 favorites]


I don’t mean to threadsit, but I’d be a lot more comfortable having this politico-cultural freak-out if I saw any evidence that it was also taking place in conservative circles. I have not. I’m a lefty guy, and I’ve just turned 40. I don’t want to live in Trumpland for the rest of my adult life. I fear we’re just wasting our energy self-destructively in a time when we are powerless and most of all need to be united.

Al the more reason that it's time go big or go home. We're in the position we're in because people do not want the status quo, or even small improvements on the status quo. We aren't going to get to liberty by sacrificing justice for all.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:56 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


The whole point of the article is that we can't keep putting off our reckoning with sexism because it directly tired to the destructiveness of conservatism. Feminism is not a distraction from or accessory to the revolution, it's right at the root of it.
posted by emjaybee at 10:04 AM on December 7 [81 favorites]


My last word-my time on earth is irreplaceable to me, and every year spent under Republican rule breaks my heart a little more. I can’t picture a happy ending to a dynamic where those 80% on the side of good are expelled and those 100% on the side of evil are seated. When Alabama goes red two days from now, is this really going to look like an argument we have the luxury of having? The raw numbers in the Senate won’t change, I know, but politics is a craft and Franken was good at it. Crucifying Al Franken for Donald Trump’s sins is suicide, and this article feels like the suicide note.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 10:04 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


The Democrats/liberals cleaning house - and the Republicans not doing so - is only a problem if you think there's a shortage of actively political Democrats/liberals who don't have sexual harassment/assault skeletons in their closets. With any luck society's burgeoning willingness to pay attention to this particular type of skeleton will lead to politicians who are hoarding them to self-select out of politics. Either for the good of their political party or in an effort to avoid notice.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:04 AM on December 7 [32 favorites]


I don’t mean to threadsit, but I’d be a lot more comfortable having this politico-cultural freak-out if I saw any evidence that it was also taking place in conservative circles.

So would I but... we outnumber them, and it's very much time that we stopped trying to gain their approval and cooperation, and instead say, "this is a majority-rule country, and your wants are no longer in line with the majority. Learn to want liberty for everyone, or watch your communities slowly die out."

And we can mourn the good people, stuck in totalitarian regions, who fail to get the education and support they need to choose something else - but we need to stop adjusting our standards for their comfort levels. Their comfort is scars and ashes for the rest of us.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:04 AM on December 7 [22 favorites]


I am so angry. So angry.

my time on earth is irreplaceable to me, and every year spent under Republican rule breaks my heart a little more

My precious time on earth has mostly been spent being harassed and demeaned by men, but I suppose the chess game of politics is more important than my little female concerns. Look, this administration is killing my soul too, but women are surging to the Democratic Party as voters, activists, and candidates BECAUSE the other side won't clean its house. If you want to throw that away to keep Al Franken, good luck with that.
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:08 AM on December 7 [126 favorites]




I don’t mean to threadsit, but I’d be a lot more comfortable having this politico-cultural freak-out if I saw any evidence that it was also taking place in conservative circles. I have not. I’m a lefty guy, and I’ve just turned 40. I don’t want to live in Trumpland for the rest of my adult life. I fear we’re just wasting our energy in a time when we are powerless when we most of all need to be united.

Look back at the history of socio-political freakouts. How often do they simultatenously happen in more progressive circles and conservative circles? How often do you find examples of the opposite happening in more conservative circles?
This is normal.
There is a reason these people are in conservative circles. By nature conservatives put their hands up and try to block this stuff out. Nothing to see here, nope...what is wrong with you people its fine the way it is! Stahp....
posted by Jalliah at 10:10 AM on December 7 [8 favorites]


You're not going to see a similar movement among conservatives. Instead, there's a growing number who want "White Sharia'.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:16 AM on December 7 [1 favorite]


When Alabama goes red two days from now, is this really going to look like an argument we have the luxury of having?

This is an argument we don't have the luxury of not having. We cannot continue to sacrifice people out of some misguided notion that doing so will result in good because the predators are "80% good".
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:17 AM on December 7 [18 favorites]


Conservatives don't care. Remember: Jimmy Carter lost.

And they despise Obama. And they elected Trump.
posted by FJT at 10:17 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


my time on earth is irreplaceable to me, and every year spent under Republican rule breaks my heart a little more.

Then do something about it. Fight to change things. Do that precisely because that time on earth is precious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


Al Franken resigning right now is 10,000x more valuable than anything he could have achieved in office from here on. More valuable to the Democrats, to women, to humanity.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:23 AM on December 7 [62 favorites]


politics is a craft and Franken was good at it

MN Lt. Governor Tina Smith will likely fill Franken's seat. I don't see why she would be any less skilled at the craft of politics.
posted by LindsayIrene at 10:29 AM on December 7 [16 favorites]


Crucifying Al Franken for Donald Trump’s sins is suicide, and this article feels like the suicide note.

Al Franken is being ejected for his own damn actions. He can own them and atone for them, as he is doing. Be pissed at Al for being a shithead who can't keep his hands to himself. Donald Trump is not the touchstone; if we tie our actions to his, if we don't demand our predators step down unless their predators do, then guess what? We are exactly as enabling of predators as they are.

The rage in this essay is good for the soul. If we are pissed, if we act, if we tell women that when they come forward action will be taken to punish their abusers, then we. will. win.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:34 AM on December 7 [77 favorites]


When Alabama goes red two days from now, is this really going to look like an argument we have the luxury of having?
Are you under some kind of delusion that what Al Franken does has any effect on the 'bama election? Oh, sorry: you said you weren't threadsitting and you'd delivered your last word. I'll restate and free you from the interrogative mandate. Nothing the democrats do amongst themselves will protect the world from the fanged demon morons driving it over a cliff, so they may as well act decently and work to protect their constituents and their good name. That includes retiring any senators among their ranks who have hobbled themselves by being odious grope monkeys all their lives, thereby making it impossible to respect them or take them seriously about anything ever again.

politics is a craft and Franken was good at it
He was excellent at it. Al Franken was a gifted, highly effective senator. He was born for that job. Now he cannot be a good senator. He can be a terrible senator or he can be an ex-senator. It's unfortunate for all of us that he wasn't a better person, or, failing that, that he didn't predict that random exuberant appropriation of any nearby attractive body belonging to a person with less power than he had was going to suddenly go out of fashion--in Hollywood, no less, let alone the goddamn senate. He should have resigned as soon as the first accusation came out, and he should have resigned better, without calling all his accusers either demented or dishonest, whichever it is he's thinking when he says "I remember it differently," but it's enough that he resigned at all.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:35 AM on December 7 [57 favorites]


There are other people who will be gifted, effective senators. Franken was a question mark when he was elected, and he turned out to be excellent at the job, but the model of his actions can be followed without protecting him personally from the consequences of his own behavior.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:41 AM on December 7 [11 favorites]


How many gifted senators avoid politics because other gifted senators can’t keep their fucking hands to themselves? How many gifted female and black senators are ignored because the left is sexist and racist too?

Also, I’m noticing a hole where race should be. Terry Crews is a target in this mess of non-consensual grasping of men as well, and my bet is that other black men, many black women, and people of color in general in aren’t coming forward about their abuse because they know from bitter experience that white feminism/white progressives doesn’t/don’t have their back. Most people in the US still object to characterizing our seizure of land from the people who were already here in the name of “freedom” as the grasping, non-consensual, violent greed it was, and like to pretend the people who managed to survive 200 years of abuse and destruction don’t exist or somehow are more privileged.

These are injustices that need to change, too.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:06 AM on December 7 [77 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Captain l'escalier, you said you were leaving and then you came back, which is basically never a good idea; please give the thread a rest for real at this point. Other folks, make sure you're reloading and not responding to deleted stuff.]
posted by cortex at 11:37 AM on December 7 [5 favorites]


This whole conversation reminds me of what would happen when I tried to surface issues related to sexism and misogyny as a budding young activist, back in the day. The (invariably) white, (invariably) male leadership would say to me, "We're trying to focus on the important issues here." And I would want to scream, "THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT ISSUES!" But, doing so at that time, would have had me labeled as neurotic and hysterical and difficult to work with. So, I took what crumbs I could, folded the envelopes or set up the room or whatever lowly task that was allotted to me, and tried to convince myself that I was still, somehow, doing some good. While they all sat at the table and planned strategy. It never occurred to them to listen to me, or ask my opinion, or think that my ideas were valid.

This whole thing makes me sad and enraged, but I'm going to save my energy and my power for continuing to amplify the voices of more PoC, women, and LGBTQ folks, because if experience has taught me anything, if there isn't a critical mass of diverse voices at the table, nothing changes.
posted by dancing_angel at 12:01 PM on December 7 [47 favorites]


I mean this in the most literal, non-personal way possible: thinking that we need men like Franken is the mindset that provided those men opportunities to abuse women. It is a direct, immediate action that causes women to be abused. Anyone holding that opinion is helping facilitate abuse, period. There is no way around this.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:04 PM on December 7 [78 favorites]


my time on earth is irreplaceable to me, and every year spent under Republican rule breaks my heart a little more

WOMEN GET TO HAVE OUR HEARTS BROKEN EVERY YEAR OF OUR IRREPLACEABLE LIVES NO MATTER WHO IS IN OFFICE.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:10 PM on December 7 [83 favorites]


The idea that a very visible wave of very politically focused anger from the progressive wing of the Democratic party is going to hurt their chances literally does not make sense to me. Most of the women in my life are more politicized and more outspokenly leftist than they have ever been, because Trump was just the last fucking straw. You want to harness that political energy? Well, there are strings. Like, sorry.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on December 7 [58 favorites]


Divide and conquer. That's the basics of colonial administration. Divide and conquer. Anglophonia is falling apart at the seams with toxic MRA losers who can't even pause before shitting over twitter on the Prime Minister of the The United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

My granny helped kick the British out, so I'm not sitting here crying into my tea over their self inflicted Brexit, after all they threw her in jail for daring to speak up over injustice.

My neighbourhood's women here in HEL suddenly woke up and recognized that pepe was a shithole, and women needed to stand together, and not be divided over whose hair was better, or whose tits were bigger, much less bigger issues like country of origin or language spoken at home.

Iceland is one to follow for their strike. The grannys of Burkina Faso with their spatula revolution might have made the white man's media editor laugh, but their sons and fathers knew well enough who was putting food on the table while the men were dying out.

This internet outrage achieves nothing except the depletion of your cortisol and your adrenaline, after which you feel satiated, and then stupefied with the dopamine.

Shut the lid on the screen. Go outside. Find your neighbours. Go to the library. Meet at the coffeeshop. Leaving the fucking smartphones at home.
posted by infini at 12:20 PM on December 7 [6 favorites]


if we act, if we tell women that when they come forward action will be taken to punish their abusers, then we. will. win.

I would like to believe this is true. I am pretty sure the gerrymandering is severe enough and the media environment is toxic enough that it's... maybe not true.

I don't think Franken is irreplaceable. I'm not arguing that he should have stayed. But I also do not think that, given the Republicans' past history of fabricating accusations and evidence, this will end well. Elected officials *should* be persons beyond reproach, and clearly a lot of the ones in office now (in both parties) are not, and should go. But it's literally impossible for any human to be a person beyond accusation.

It has generally been understood, for obvious reasons, that reports of sexual misconduct and assault and harassment and abuse are made by people who want or need to remain anonymous. In recent weeks, it has been established that even stories broken by untrustworthy sources, like Cernovich, can be true, since the Franken allegations came from him and were true. So I would not be surprised to see false allegations, strategically deployed to undermine both Democrats and those who come forward to report harassment and abuse.

Again, that doesn't mean that abusive people shouldn't be kicked out of office. But I wouldn't assume the effects will be positive, electorally. Doing the right thing may well mean not 'winning.' (At least not for a few election cycles. Long-term, this would build a stronger party, but it's not totally clear there would still be anything left which resembled a free electoral system by that point.)
posted by halation at 12:24 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


It's time we took to heart the lessons of past progressive movements which failed to secure the freedoms they reached for because they told women, people of color, and LGBTQ people "this isn't the right time," or "your turn will come eventually." Now is the time to say "No one gets left behind" and mean it. Our next chance to push for progress needs to be a massive leap forward.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:27 PM on December 7 [47 favorites]


Why would I leave my phone at home when I can organize on twitter.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:34 PM on December 7 [14 favorites]


“ ... warming their tiny, grasping hands over the trash fire of civil society.” Wow

That's what the Granny downstairs said when she heard the WoC upstairs was a monster. That's what the mother of four said, when she heard the WoC upstairs was a monster. That's why when I now go to the supermarket, I either have women cockblocking assholes or PoC making sure pepe doesn't get to nasty me on the street.

Via social media, hate is being exported around the world. Its profitable, says the media, who cares what happens to civil society, if we can drag in the eyeballs through outrage.

Here's a recent study showing that there's been a marked increase in rudeness and abuse to service workers in the retail sector in Finland. No wonder they smile for me, I'm one of the few people who understand what it is like to be on the receiving end all day of toxic nasty bullshit.
posted by infini at 12:34 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


I'm not sad to see Franken go. Fuck him. He thought he would get away with it, and I'm glad he hasn't got away with it in the end. The only tragedy here is that he did get away with it for as long as he did.

It does make me furious that the men of the right have so far been immune to comeuppance for the same behaviour. But the thing about dominos is that they all have to fall or else the chain is broken.

Franken taking this fall doesn't guarantee that any of the sexual predator scumbags on the right will pay for their crimes. But if Franken hadn't fallen for this, his getting off scott-free would guarantee that none of the sexual predator scumbags on the right would fall either.

Franken had it coming mainly because he was a sexual predator scumbag. But he also had it coming because, god willing, he's falling in the middle of the sequence of dominos, not standing on the end of it.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:35 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]


Why would I leave my phone at home when I can organize on twitter.

Put a timer on how long you/your account survive the onslaught of trolls..
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on December 7


This internet outrage achieves nothing except the depletion of your cortisol and your adrenaline, after which you feel satiated, and then stupefied with the dopamine.

Shut the lid on the screen. Go outside. Find your neighbours. Go to the library. Meet at the coffeeshop. Leaving the fucking smartphones at home.


Look I won't pretend there's not a lot of pointless internet outrage in the world, and I won't pretend the Internet is some kind of grand force for good. But it's not nothing, and a lot of the movements gaining national and international ground right now have the internet to thank for it. I mean, the article is literally describing a movement named after a Twitter hashtag.

Also: I have to work all fucking day. Every fucking day, lately. I can't GO to the damn neighbors' and the coffeeshop and turn my phone off, not if I want to keep the lights on and the food in. I mean for real, I barely have time in a day to use the bathroom. But what I can do is become informed, donate, and organize, because these things can be done from my desk, in the tiny bits of time I can steal. So like. It's internet, or nothing. And something is always better than nothing.

Put a timer on how long you/your account survive the onslaught of trolls..

So far it's 6 years and counting so...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:37 PM on December 7 [22 favorites]


I'm preparing myself. Franken is only the beginning.

But whatever I'm feeling is unimportant in comparison to what women carry.
posted by FJT at 12:38 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


As a woman, I can say um fucking YES we are capable of living in a world where sex isn't weaponized and power isn't fetishized. And YES we want to. So who do we have to talk to around here? (flips hair)

The last year, for me, has actually been really important for me, in that in a world on fire, I'm not really willing to lie to myself, at least, anymore. I may not always say it out loud, but I'm not willing to lie to myself.

And I think that WE, as women, are capable of living in a world where we are equals and our contributions are valued and so sex no longer need be weaponized - but I'm not sure that men are. Any men, anywhere.

I have literally never met a single heterosexual man in my entire goddamned life who hasn't been repeating sexist bullshit or a sexist way of living. I have literally - like I am not fucking exaggerating even the tiniest, tiniest bit - not met a single man who wants to have sex with women who I can confidently say doesn't think he is more important in the grand scheme of the world and more valuable to women than he actually is.

Day after day, in every way, I talk to beautiful, shining, precious women who fucking contort their lives - and fuck, I'm one of them - such that men don't realize what a trashfire they are. It's not just sexual assault - it's entitlement in Every. Single. Way. It's a schema of sexual value where men always assume they're at the top, or should be at the top, or would be at the top if only for this One Thing Women Are Fucking Up.

This article is great, but it doesn't go far enough.
posted by corb at 12:40 PM on December 7 [55 favorites]


I am pretty sure the gerrymandering is severe enough and the media environment is toxic enough that it's... maybe not true.

We're not winning progressive elections by changing the district zoning nor by persuading the trumpalos that they're wrong; we're winning by getting "unlikely voters" to the polls. And we're not doing that through mainstream media activity; it's happening one-on-one, postcards and calls and Facebook outreach and reminders that hey, you DO get a say in what goes on around here.

Long-term, this would build a stronger party

Short term, this builds a stronger party: one in which nobody declares, "that racist/ creepy/ pervert/ tax-dodging/ lying scumbag is NOT my representative!" Short term, this gives us leadership we can trust, when the other side is tearing each other apart with accusations and broken promises and lies.

There is a counterpoint: we will lose good legislators who may have learned from their mistakes, who may have dedicated themselves to better actions than their history might indicate. So we lose Franken's voice in the Senate - and if we're lucky, he becomes a solid feminist advocate, saying, "I did horrible things, and by the time I realized they were horrible, they cost me my career; learn what good behavior is before it costs you," and using his fame and talents to push that message.

The whole theory of US government is that nobody is irreplaceable. I could see an argument against Franken stepping down right now, at this time, if a Republican governor were going to replace him with a malicious thug - but that's not the situation we have. (And that's probably part of why so many called for him to step down; there isn't going to be a more politically advantageous time, and this lets an unknown step into the office and get some attention.)

I'm going to miss Franken's skills in the Senate, but what he does next will let me know if he's actually changed.

And I want us to give plenty more men that chance: let us see if you can still be supportive, polite, and active on behalf of the marginalized when you're not at the top of the world. Because that's what the rest of us have to do.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:46 PM on December 7 [23 favorites]


I think the permanent rage has broken me. All I can do with this right now is giggle about Shitler Youth.
posted by The Toad at 12:52 PM on December 7 [14 favorites]


The story we’re told about sexuality is very similar to the story we’re told about citizenship: Once upon a time, things were very bad and nobody had any fun. Then there were a series of revolutions, and various oppressed groups threw off their chains, and now we are free, the end. If you’re not living happily ever after, it’s your own damn fault. When, and if, anyone ever does get caught flagrantly abusing their power, we write them off as monsters, lone wolves, bad apples, or any other fairytale monster that allows us to continue the bedtime story in which white supremacist capitalist patriarchy is working well for everyone.

OOOF.
posted by redsparkler at 12:57 PM on December 7 [23 favorites]


I could see an argument against Franken stepping down right now, at this time, if a Republican governor were going to replace him with a malicious thug - but that's not the situation we have.

This is the situation I refer to regarding 'winning,' not necessarily campaigns where there are efforts to flip seats. Flipped seats are great! Newcomers to the party are great! There may be attempts to offset those by targeting races, or targeting seated Democrats in unsafe districts where their seat would go from blue to red.

If it's right for Franken to step down, he has to step down, regardless of the governor appointing his replacement. And everyone following Franken will need to step down. Cleaning house is gonna take a while, with or without Republican help; this might not bring about much in the way of voter engagement, particularly those who aren't already engaged or who are on the fence about Democrats to begin with.

Again, none of that is an argument for keeping Franken, or keeping anyone else! But I see so many people assuming that this process can only have positive electoral effects. That assumption (at times more like an insistence) strikes me as worrisome. The other side is not going to be "tearing each other apart with accusations and broken promises and lies," it's going to be trying to tear the Democrats apart, while cheerfully ignoring its own corruption and attempting to distract voters from noticing said corruption by pointing at the Democrats. It's a strategy that, historically, has worked out pretty well for them and not-so-well for the Democrats, since it's usually aided and abetted by the media.
posted by halation at 12:58 PM on December 7 [5 favorites]


I have literally - like I am not fucking exaggerating even the tiniest, tiniest bit - not met a single man who wants to have sex with women who I can confidently say doesn't think he is more important in the grand scheme of the world and more valuable to women than he actually is.

QFT.

That, I think, is the core of the fear they work not to recognize: Once they start paying attention, at some point, they begin to realize women don't actually need me, and they are terrified at that, and they start looking for any myth, any philosophy, any worldview-story they can tell themselves, to persuade themselves that no, they were right in the first place; they ARE the important ones in this species. And any evidence that challenges that view gets brushed aside or ignored or met with outright violence.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:01 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


I am really tired of men saying "Yes but..." with a silent or not so silent defense is the status quo.

And I am really fucking tired of men saying "Things are so hopeless that your anger and protest won't do any good, women (so you can shut up now),

And I am really, completely done with people saying " You're doing it wrong women, so discard your number one way of communicating, and take to perusing in the way I think is appropriate."

This is change and grassroots anger, and a bunch of allegedly liberal people here just need to consider what side they're on then get the fuck out of the way. And not in a bullshit "I'm on your side, BUUUT... " way.
posted by happyroach at 1:06 PM on December 7 [42 favorites]


The other side is not going to be "tearing each other apart with accusations and broken promises and lies," it's going to be trying to tear the Democrats apart

You say that like they're mutually exclusive.

They'll tear at each other right up until someone starts saying, "well, if he's so terrible, he should leave," and then it's all, "ancient history; not important right now" - so we need to change the pattern, need to say, no history is too ancient; nothing is so important right now that we can't remove an abuser from power.

We're seeing a lot of removals on the celebrity side of things, not nearly as much in the political realm. Franken crosses them, and I'm hoping this is helps break the dam.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:07 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


The other side is not going to be "tearing each other apart with accusations and broken promises and lies

Maybe not. But Bill O'Reilly lost his job before Al Franken did. We can think way, way bigger than 1 vote in the Senate, as important as that is. We don't need Woody Allen or Louis C.K.'s "art", we don't need R. Kelly's music, and we don't need a man who gropes his constituents representing us in the Senate.

This question of "are you sure you want to go through with removing abusers from power?" can only be answered with an enthusiastic yes. I am sure. I am past ready. I've been waiting. Let's be transformational.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:13 PM on December 7 [34 favorites]


My husband asked me about #metoo, how common I think it truly is, how many men do that stuff? I told him to leave the physical violence and the closed door stories for a minute and consider what's done in public. Performative harassment, like the groping photo or the bragging about grabbing by the pussy? That stuff is part of how men build a power base. They perform dominance for other men, and women are the easy target. The other men laugh, and that laughing means they're all in the club. It's a fraternity thing, and we all know about frat boys, don't we? They drink and party and mistreat women together as young men, then all the "brothers" who don't get their fool selves killed or imprisoned, go on to boost each others careers and become elder statesmen and captains of industry.

I told him, I bet that most of the men in Congress, have done that performative harassment. Because you don't get to be a congressman by leaving power and influence on the table.

It would be awesome if the cultural moment has arrived, for the frat party to end.
posted by elizilla at 1:18 PM on December 7 [52 favorites]


as i have said, repeatedly, anger is totally justified. removing the accused is justifiable and necessary. it's also not necessarily going to win elections, particularly given the bad faith in which republicans inevitably operate and their general imperviousness to morality or even shame. it's not about franken's one seat. it's about what happens when there are ten frankens, some of whom are in red districts. does the must-step-down position get abandoned? that will result in attacks from both sides. or, what happens if an accuser is fabricated? it would be good to think about these possibilities before they happen.

it would be super-neat if i could express things like this without having it assumed that i am male and have never personally experienced harassment and assault, because neither of those things are the case.
posted by halation at 1:20 PM on December 7 [7 favorites]


Democrats in 2016 were split between having to choose either female leadership on one side or political revolution on the other.

In 2017 we ended up with neither.

But in 2018 we might have both: A female led political revolution.
posted by FJT at 1:21 PM on December 7 [10 favorites]


A friend of mine recently broke up with her boyfriend – I had known them both for years – after he confessed to cheating on her. Over the subsequent months it’s become clear that the cheating was the tip of the iceberg of his crappy behavior, but that doesn’t matter for the purposes of this anecdote:

I met up with him soon after my friend found out (but before the final dumping), because he and I were also old friends and even though I believed his now-ex, I wanted to hear what he had to say for himself. He told me about how confused and depressed and lost etc he had been at the time, and how he’d made a mistake, and how sorry he was. I heard him out and I had some sympathy for him. I told him I was glad that he had decided to be honest about the cheating and that he had apologized and was trying to work through it with her, but that I was still angry with him for what he had done.

His response was something along the lines of “but, I said I was sorry!”

That was when the sympathy turned into a combo of pity and contempt, because that was when I realized that the entire concept of personal accountability basically did not exist for him – at least, where the cheating was concerned. He said he was sorry and was going to couples therapy like his girlfriend wanted, therefore it was totally unfathomable that we could still be angry about it. Our emotions were perceived as a punishment for him, rather than, you know, our feelings that we were allowed to have regardless of what words came out of his mouth. I am sure he would call himself a feminist.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:29 PM on December 7 [74 favorites]


The other side is not going to be "tearing each other apart with accusations and broken promises and lies," it's going to be trying to tear the Democrats apart

Of course: people of no character in government will continue to draw the line at "live boy or dead girl" for their own people and will trump up "'Whitewater Kenya pizzagate" for the opposition. But people of good character in government must behave honorably and refuse to countenance criminality by their own people or by people of the opposing party. If Joe Biden had not been more interested in preserving the right of his fellow man to have a porn collection and have his privacy respected than he was in upholding the law, discovering the truth, protecting the vulnerable, and getting the best person possible onto the supreme court, he might have permitted investigation into Clarence Thomas's rental of the Long Dong Silver vehicle. The video store was prepared to testify. But Biden wouldn't allow it and wouldn't allow the testimony of several other witnesses to Clarence Thomas's appalling abuses. Nobody cared about Anita Hill's privacy--it was fine to dig into her past and trash her character and declare her "a little nutty and a little slutty" in front of her family and say that she was a liar and suppress the evidence that she was telling the truth. I don't care who it is. I don't care what level it is. I don't care whether it's "pubic hair on my Coke!" horseshit or full-on quid pro quo and assault. I don't care whether it's Moore or Trump or Conyers or Franken: if you did this shit you are incapable of protecting the civil rights of half the people in the country, and you are therefore ineligible for a position in government.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:32 PM on December 7 [24 favorites]


He said he was sorry and was going to couples therapy like his girlfriend wanted, therefore it was totally unfathomable that we could still be angry about it.

There are some offenses, where the desired result is: you admit you did wrong; you do something to make amends; you agree not to do it again.

There are plenty more, where that's the starting point, and it continues with, "and this changes our relationship," whether that's personal-romantic, professional, governmental, whatever.

And wow there are a lot of guys who really can't wrap their heads around a woman saying, "the relationship I thought we had is not the one you thought we had. I am really pissed at you for lying to me about the relationship I thought we had." And they get even more upset at, "the relationship I thought we had didn't exist, and I find I'm no longer interested in whatever relationship you think we had, or could have. Bye."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:45 PM on December 7 [19 favorites]


We don't need Woody Allen or Louis C.K.'s "art", we don't need R. Kelly's music, and we don't need a man who gropes his constituents representing us in the Senate.

The important thing is that none of their good works were the product of their misdeeds. For any "great man," there are others capable of equally great works that have been sidelined. Society rejecting these creeps isn't depriving ourselves of greatness. If we were quicker to call out abuse and protect victims, just think of the great works we might have by people who weren't driven out of their profession.
posted by explosion at 1:47 PM on December 7 [18 favorites]


corb: "I have literally never met a single heterosexual man in my entire goddamned life who hasn't been repeating sexist bullshit or a sexist way of living."

There are a lot of male allies not only on this site but all across the world, in the news. They are not hard to find. I am sorry that your personal experience is that there are no good heterosexual men, but they exist quite clearly.
posted by TypographicalError at 2:07 PM on December 7 [3 favorites]


They are not hard to find.
Hahahahaaa that's hilarious because used to be whenever I despaired that there were really any real "allies" I would comfort myself by remembering Al Franken.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:09 PM on December 7 [29 favorites]


There are a lot of male allies not only on this site but all across the world, in the news. They are not hard to find.

That is not a refutation of corb's point. Men who behave as allies also behave in sexist ways. I also have never met a man who is completely innocent of enacting sexism. Just like the best intentioned, wokest white person still enacts racism in some ways. There's already a hashtag for what you're doing: it's called #notallmen and it can charitably be called unhelpful.
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:14 PM on December 7 [58 favorites]


I am sorry that your personal experience is that there are no good heterosexual men, but they exist quite clearly.

She didn't say there are no good het men, just that all of them repeat sexist bullshit and/or have sexist habits.

I concur. Every one. And the vast majority of bi men.

They will happily suggest "women shouldn't walk through campus alone" and be offended at the idea of "men shouldn't be allowed to walk through campus alone." They will say "women at bars need to be careful with their drinks," not "men at bars should always be supervised." I have yet to meet one who doesn't say, at some point, "well, what did she expect, [wearing that outfit/ going to that place/ going out with that guy]?"

A lot of them are working to get better. But it's an uphill slog for the women closest to them, to keep pointing out, that thing you just said, it treats me like less of a person than that admitted rapist you just saw on TV. And more: we generally have to apologize after pointing that out, for the offense of having told them they were talking bullshit.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:16 PM on December 7 [31 favorites]


Don Pepino, same. What a fool I was.
posted by faineg at 2:18 PM on December 7


They are not hard to find. I am sorry that your personal experience is that there are no good heterosexual men, but they exist quite clearly.

sure, it's incredibly easy to find men who proudly proclaim themselves to be allies. it's extremely hard to find ones who actually ARE.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:37 PM on December 7 [25 favorites]


> Crucifying Al Franken for Donald Trump’s sins is suicide, and this article feels like the suicide note.

This is not directed specifically at Captain l'escalier, because he's left the thread, but his attitude is common ("But it's important to have our guys in there, good guys who will fight the bad guys! We have to put up with imperfections!") and I've felt it myself. In fact, though I've called myself a feminist for decades, it's only in the last year that I've truly realized, on a gut level, that the oppression of women is the single most significant fact in human history (at least since the agricultural revolution) and that all of human history up to now is basically a suicide note. If this species is going to get anywhere worthwhile, we have to end the patriarchy and its ways of doing business, and this post-Weinstein housecleaning and rebellion is potentially far more important than everything else that's happening. If we chuck out all the abusive men (and ideally replace them with women), everything will get unimaginably better (though there will, of course, be pushback, some of it violent). If not, we're headed straight down the toilet. Gerrymandering and all that politico stuff is child's play by comparison.
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on December 7 [31 favorites]


and pro tip being a good ally does not involve saying shit to women like "sorry your personal experiences are wrong and mine are clearly right"
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on December 7 [36 favorites]


I can't find it now, but some satirical online publication (McSweeney's?) posted an article recently with a headline like "Male CEO announces that to cut down on sexual harassment, he will hire only golden retrievers." The joke being, of course, that men will jump to a solution like that before it will occur to them to HIRE WOMEN. All this angst over what is men's place in the Democratic party going forward oh my God, and women are like 20 percent of Congress.

I'm pissed rn because I spent a few days with family, and after multiple conversations justifying sexual assault (and right after my aunt made a racist gesture at me), my dad tried to tell me how hard and confusing the last 40 years had been for white men. I mean, yes, if I'm honest I am of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg school of women will have enough representation when all legislative and judicial and corporate bodies are 100 percent women, but let's even try 50 percent before we start crying about what this means for the poor men.
posted by sunset in snow country at 2:49 PM on December 7 [33 favorites]


how hard and confusing the last 40 years had been for white men

Sure, I can be sympathetic for that: It is indeed rough being told your wants were more important than other people's needs, and your whims and desires should override their safety, and then watching the rules change and realizing that you don't, actually, have a moral or legal right to subjugate others.

And white guys each have to realize that individually, and each of them is perhaps owed an hour or two of sympathy over, "yeah, you were told a pack of lies growing up, and the rules were changed on you; that sucks."

That's, "an hour or two of sympathy, per life," not per conversation with a female or person of color. Most of the guys we know who go on about this have had that conversation several times.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:04 PM on December 7 [28 favorites]


Oh jeez. I was just on my local FB Indivisible group, and I don't know if I just got hit with a blast of benevolent sexism or "white feminism" (my area is heavily affluent and white, though the latter is changing) - but people were fuuuuuurious at Kirsten Gillibrand and the other women senators for "railroading" poor poor Al Franken who was a GOOD MAN and WAAH CONSPIRACY and DEMOCRATS ARE SPINELESS and "I was harassed and I put up with it!"

I left a post saying that Democrats *have* to listen to women, we can't put up with harassers in our ranks because if we're supposed to welcome everyone into the big tent of the Democratic party, we really do have to make them welcome! Women, LGBT people, POC, everyone! I have a hunch it will be received badly, but what the hell, I couldn't let it stand.

I am chewing iron and shitting nails mad right now. This is why we need more women in office. Ejecting a sexual harasser is not going to make the Democratic party "bland, corporate, and soulless" because Good Men Who Made Mistakes won't run for office.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:19 PM on December 7 [20 favorites]


Good Men Who Made Mistakes are welcome to run for office - if they've admitted those mistakes and done something to atone for them before campaign season.

I don't believe that all forms of harassment and assault are unforgivable; I just don't want the forgiveness negotiations to be taking place while they're making legislative decisions.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:23 PM on December 7 [17 favorites]


I am sorry that your personal experience is that there are no good heterosexual men, but they exist quite clearly.

There isn't enough fire in the heart of the actual sun for how angry this comment makes me. Suffice it to say, at this point, [citation fucking needed].

Look there are definitely "good" heterosexual men. In the sense that ErisLordFreedom described above: there are heterosexual men out there who work very hard to address and compensate for their power and privilege and to minimize the harm done to others by themselves and by other men.

What there are NOT any of, are men who have somehow grown up in this toxic shitstew of a culture and magically, miraculously, through their special man-magic, not actually internalized ANY PART OF IT in such a way that they inadvertently perpetuate some of its thoughts and patterns. Shit, there are probably not even very many women who can claim as much.

The need to be seen and acknowledged always and forever as "good" is an incredibly damaging impulse. Sometimes you're not that fucking good. Deal.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:27 PM on December 7 [52 favorites]


And in 'allies' who need to shut the fuck up and listen, Charles Pierce:

The problem is where do the Democrats go now, although I’m fairly sure Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will be heading to Iowa. Is it time (again) to tug their forelocks over Bill Clinton? Maybe they could dig up Teddy Kennedy and hold their own Cadaver Synod, expelling him from the Senate posthumously? LBJ would be next, then Jack, then finally Thomas Jefferson. Ah, but now, we are told, they have The Moral High Ground, as though you needed to throw one of your own overboard in order to have the moral standing to oppose seating an alleged child molester in the Senate, or to remind people that the president* copped to sexual assault on tape.

Lithwick is dead right. There is no commonly accepted Moral High Ground left to occupy anymore, and to pretend one exists is to live in a masturbatory fantasyland. It’s like lining yourself up behind Miss Manners in a political debate against Machiavelli. Until the Democrats are willing to think asymmetrically about the very real political danger posed by the president* and his party, the danger will grow until it becomes uncontrollable, and that point is coming very soon, I fear. By the time the Democrats admit to themselves that their political opposition has moved so far beyond shame that it can’t even see Richard Nixon any more, the damage wrought to our political institutions may be beyond repair.


No, Chuck, you get rid of them because it's the right fucking thing to do. Because predators should not be representatives, regardless of the letter after their name. Because the way to show that we stand for victims is to stand for them. This isn't about the fucking "moral high ground", it's about common fucking decency.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:48 PM on December 7 [16 favorites]


there are heterosexual men out there who work very hard to address and compensate for their power and privilege and to minimize the harm done to others by themselves and by other men

I would actually caveat this: there are heterosexual men out there who work very hard to address and compensate for their power and privilege to the extent it does not significantly harm them, usually stopping at the point of mild inconvenience. And we're seeing this with the Franken situation, and with a lot of the other #metoo situations.

Like, there are a lot of men who are willing to stand up to other men on Facebook, or go to the Women's March, or write op-eds, or generally bemoan that there was a time they were less enlightened, or even advocate for legislation that will help equalize things for women. I see those dudes all the time.

What I don't see is men saying things like, "In 1996, I sexually assaulted Woman Y. This was not just something for me to feel agonized manpains about twenty years later, it was actually criminal. I welcome the filing of charges, and if the statute of limitation is expired, I will make financial restitution for the stress and trauma that I caused her." Or even men exposing - before women make charges - their friends and allies for sexual mistreatment of women, even when they know they will lose nearly every one of their male friends over it.

And that's not even getting into the enormous number of men who engage in progressive politics in the streets and regressive politics in the sheets, or in the apportionment of domestic and emotional labor within the household.
posted by corb at 3:49 PM on December 7 [21 favorites]


The problem is where do the Democrats go now...

He's also falling into the delightful* fallacy of assuming that corrupt straight men are the only ones competent to hold congressional office, or at least, the only category available in the numbers necessary.

I mean, we just DO NOT HAVE enough women and non-abusive men to do these jobs and do them well! Do we want to hand over the whole of Congress to the rethuglicans?

*A euphemism.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:52 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


Clearly the solution is golden retrievers
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:59 PM on December 7 [14 favorites]


I vote for replacing all the men in congress with golden retrievers.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:06 PM on December 7 [27 favorites]


New from Disney Home Video: Congress Buddies.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:14 PM on December 7 [13 favorites]


Hah, that way we could really say the country is going to the dogs! Bo/Sunny 2020!

What Pierce is saying sounds like what I'm hearing from a lot of - well-meaning? self-interested? clueless? Terminally bro-ish? Benevolently sexist? - Democrats right now on FB and so forth. And it is pissing me off. No, Kirsten Gillibrand is not some clueless dupe of Roger Stone ("women are gullible" is another sexist stereotype, sigh). There is no conspiracy to honey-trap powerful men. So far there have been eight women who have come forward with accusations against Franken - all of them are getting cushy Republican jobs and money in compensation? What happened to #metoo and #believewomen?

And, as ErisLordFreedom said, there's plenty of political talent to tap. Lots of non-gross, not-abusive people of all genders are out there who would do well holding office. That's the talent pool we need to draw from. We don't have a choice between "abusive men" and "soulless corporate empty suits" or "let the Republicans win."

The late Marjorie Williams had (*content advisory for sex abuse) a trenchant piece in Vanity Fair in 1998, with her observations on the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and how liberal feminists reacted (in retrospect, badly). With Franken, I'm not seeing feminists react like this - thankfully! - but too many Democrats are taking the "it's not that bad" stance.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:17 PM on December 7 [15 favorites]


Al Franken is not irreplaceable. None of these men are irreplaceable.

Franken was one of Comcast's harshest critics, and one of the few in the Senate who seemed to understand the intersection of technology and power. In that sense he seemed unique, at least.

Do we know anything about Tina Smith's stand on Net Neutrality, or whether she's beholden to anyone worrisome?

My Internet searches are not telling me much. Any Minnesota MeFites have an inside baseball perspective?
posted by rokusan at 6:31 PM on December 7


No, but then we didn’t know Franken’s stances when he first ran, either.

My inside baseball perspective is that Smith has been handling a considerable amount of weight in the governorship because Dayton himself has been in frail health these past few years. Dayton, of course, has made headlines for being the anti-Walker and in improving MN’s metrics on many quality of life factors. I doubt he would have selected Smith as a lieutenant governor if she were not willing to uphold a genuinely liberal agenda. Her Wikipedia page says that she got her bachelor’s from Stanford, her master’s from Dartmouth, and served as the VP of Planned Parenthood for MN and the Dakotas.

Sounds like a true-blood DFLer to me! I’m in.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:43 PM on December 7 [11 favorites]


> and Roy Moore will be the next Senator from Alabama for so long as he cares to continue in that office.
That's the optimistic baseline scenario. It's possible that he'll get a SCOTUS appointment.
posted by runcifex at 6:45 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Tim Kaine pretty much IS a golden retriever, in human form. (Don't disappoint me, Tim!)

No matter what the Democrats did, the Republicans were going to find a way to make it work for them. If they didn't act, the Rs could accuse them of hypocrisy and millions of women would be ticked. If they got rid of Conyers, but not Franken, that could justifiably be described as racist. If they waited for "due process" to unfold, that would interfere with the Democrats' ability to call out Roy Moore. The Republicans have a giant advantage in this, in that they just don't care. They want power, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get it. It may catch up with them someday, but for that to happen, a critical mass of people need to show up, get involved, and start holding them accountable. Their base will never change, so we need a bigger bloc of voters to reduce the size and impact of their base.
posted by dancing_angel at 9:17 PM on December 7 [9 favorites]


I agree there was no way to "win" this politically, Angel.

I'm not a fan of the accuse-then-punish two step system, much. I really like due process; I rather wish the Dems had taken the accusers seriously and followed through with real investigations first, then apportioned appropriate punishment, as a sort of template on how to handle these things in future... because the whole destroy-a-career-by-accusation thing is frightening as hell when you have the potential of the Republicans weaponizing it. I mean, if and when we get manufactured accusers willing to flat out make things up about Democrats, sort of like Project Veritas with actors, what then? I don't like the slope we're on, in terms of the future of the party, the left, or anyone with integrity, really. As you said, they just don't care, so they'll do whatever it takes.

So yeah, I think you're also spot on that that taking even reasonable care and caution here would have also handed them a talking point, when everyone wants Moore and Trump gone now, not after investigations and hearings and trials.

I don't know how to prevent this from spiraling out of control, and if/when it does so, I don't see any way it doesn't help the Republicans (politically) more than it ever hurts them, since we know that their voters don't care, either.

Can someone hope me?
posted by rokusan at 11:46 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


the wicker man can
posted by poffin boffin at 12:58 AM on December 8 [7 favorites]


the whole destroy-a-career-by-accusation thing is frightening as hell when you have the potential of the Republicans weaponizing it.

You mean like they tried doing to Bill Clinton in 1998?

Didn't work then. Whether or not that was ultimately a good or bad thing is still to be determined, but weaponizing the accusing-to-death is something the GOP has already been trying to do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I know, Empress, but these are new waters, in which it looks like accusations may actually work very very effectively, and one party seems really poised to warp the new rules cynically to great political effect.

Victims should obviously feel free/safe to name and shame. It's the what comes next that we gotta get right, or this is going to tear the Democrats apart while the Republicans smirk their way to winning again and again.
posted by rokusan at 2:53 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


This only "tears the Democrats apart" if you let it. If you choose to stand by Al Franken and not by the women who he groped, you are the one tearing the Democratic party apart. If we could just get all Democrats behind the idea that we are the party that does the right thing, we will not be torn apart. But instead we have Democrats who are still more interested in playing n-dimensional chess and doing whatever it takes and betraying whatever ideals necessary to win than in doing the right thing. And Republicans will always beat us in the game of betraying whatever ideals necessary to win.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:19 AM on December 8 [25 favorites]


I’d be more comfortable as the party of due process, or of the rule of law.

This isn’t about Franken. I’m just wondering what countermeasures could be used to mitigate what could be a powerful, unchecked political weapon. Because I think that’s where we are headed, here.

Do you not worry that we might be approaching the point where the Republicans, for example, might be able to remove anyone in the Democratic Party they find especially bothersome by manufacturing an accusation or two? I mean, if we aren’t gong to investigate and substantiate claims anymore...

Or do you think they’re above that?
posted by rokusan at 6:01 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


And Republicans will always beat us in the game of betraying whatever ideals necessary to win.

re: weaponized misogyny - "the emerging Republican view is if you're gonna be a harasser or rapist, you just need to be man enough to be utterly unashamed about it. [they] elevate men who are extremely credibly accused of pretty serious forms of sexual assault if and only if they give no quarter, make no apology, and go on attack in ways that persuade no one of their innocence, but demonstrates a willingness to exercise power in ways that might leave, um, 'lesser' humans squeamish."
I’m sure some Republicans tell themselves Moore denies everything and they think he’s innocent, but lots of pretty prominent figured in the party have said they believe the charges, but with no new exonerating evidence, have now come to actively support Moore.

The modus operandi in the Republican party is we need warriors, and the vast left wing conspiracy will castrate our warriors with thr political correctness, which they can make seem very real and serious, if we let them.

So in the Republican Party, scandal is now becoming a test. Trump paved the way here. Regardless of the merits if the charges, if you can weather it and still gain power, you have passed the test and we we defer to you.

McConnell is the prototypical example here. One minute, Moore should step aside. But Moore toughed it out, and now de facto has McConnell’s support. If Moore wins, he won’t be damaged goods, won’t be expelled from the Senate. On the contrary, he will have demonstrated dominance, leaving McConnell a weak, “cucked” figure by comparison.

Both parties are full of hypocrisy and shittiness. But this amoral primate dominance thing as perhaps the core sorting method within the party, is new and characteristic only of the Republicans.
posted by kliuless at 6:33 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


Franken wasn't forced out over one accusation by Leann Tweeden. To reiterate, Franken had eight women coming forward - and Tina Dupuy, a woman who writes for The Atlantic (a reputable publication) said she believed the women because Franken groped her, too.

What we have here is a pattern, not a lone accuser. So I'm side-eyeing like hell all the people screaming about conspiracies and Al Franken being a poor innocent victim. And with Bill Clinton, we had Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey - not just Monica Lewinsky.

I don't doubt the Republicans want to weaponize #metoo. But are they chess-players enough to fabricate whole webs of accusations? I will worry more if prominent Democrats start facing lone accusers who pop up out of the blue - not former staffers, coworkers, or reporters. We're not working with small children and recovered memories.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:35 AM on December 8 [16 favorites]


I will confess, after reading this thread, that I'm a little heartbroken and spitting mad that so-called fellow liberal/Democrats are advocating that we women should just really think about the big picture instead of being furious that even politicians who do a good job should get a pass because hey, it's better than a Republican. It shows how very willing cis white dudes are to throw women and POC under the bus because apparently nothing is more important than making sure a Democrat doesn't step down.
posted by Kitteh at 7:01 AM on December 8 [30 favorites]


Do you not worry that we might be approaching the point where the Republicans, for example, might be able to remove anyone in the Democratic Party they find especially bothersome by manufacturing an accusation or two? I mean, if we aren’t gong to investigate and substantiate claims anymore...

There is a literal picture of Al Franken touching the breasts of a sleeping woman for a joke. You are making a slippery slope that does not exist. Frankly, it's coming off as a basic fear that men are losing dominating power/their ability to act with impunity. It should not have to be explained how that is a good thing
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:09 AM on December 8 [21 favorites]


rokusan, you're deliberately ignoring the difference between multiple credible allegations, as we've had with Al Franken and Roy Moore, and some anonymous twitter account making an allegation. You're also ignoring that news organizations can be sued for libel and defamation. It's not as if people who are subject to allegations like this have no legal recourse. News organizations are reluctant to publish allegations unless they're confident that they can win a potential lawsuit. Roy Moore can go on about the liberal media making up stuff. But he's unlikely to sue the Washington Post because they've got multiple similar allegations from different sources and corroborating evidence from people who knew the alleged victims and were around at the time. They should be able to convince a jury that they're sources were real and they good reason to think the allegations were credible.

News media can be held legally accountable for publishing false or poorly sourced allegations. It's not like we're in uncharted legal territory here.
posted by nangar at 7:27 AM on December 8 [13 favorites]


Do you not worry that we might be approaching the point where the Republicans, for example, might be able to remove anyone in the Democratic Party they find especially bothersome by manufacturing an accusation or two?

No.

I mean, if we aren’t gong to investigate and substantiate claims anymore...

What claims haven't been investigated and substantiated? Do you think the Washington Post is the National Enquirer just publishing random rumors?
posted by hydropsyche at 7:34 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


Everyone I know in real life is conflicted about Al Franken. He's not mentioned in the article and I wish he was not the focus of the discussion here.

Whether or not Franken's resignation was right, I don't see it as a win. As long as Moore and Trump get away scot-free, nothing will change. Nothing. will. change. There is a slight possibility that Moore will not get away with what he's done, but I don't see Trump ever facing any real consequences for the way he's treated women; maybe for other things but not for that. And that is what makes me furious right now.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:38 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Whether or not Franken's resignation was right, I don't see it as a win. As long as Moore and Trump get away scot-free, nothing will change.

Correct. I don't feel able to weigh in here for various reasons, I think Masha Gessen's piece and Dahlia Lithwick's piece are both worth reading in this context.
posted by The Bellman at 7:43 AM on December 8


I'll tell you what has changed: A man who has a documented history of engaging in sexist behavior that would get him fired at any job that takes sexual harassment seriously got fired.

That's a change. It's a change for the better.

I liked Al. He was my neighbor. I think he was a good politician. But he's not irreplaceable, and creeps gotta go.
posted by maxsparber at 7:45 AM on December 8 [19 favorites]


> Whether or not Franken's resignation was right, I don't see it as a win.

Yes, it is a win. Anyone who thinks it isn't is prioritizing other things over the lives of women, and we've got to stop doing that. Fucking hell, being "one of Comcast's harshest critics" is more important than respecting women?
posted by languagehat at 7:56 AM on December 8 [26 favorites]


That Masha Gessen article is infuriating in the implication that punishing nonconsensual behavior is “policing sexuality.” However, without reading it I would not have realized Franken’s initial apologies were disingenuous, so I appreciate you posting it.
There was one notable absence in his speech: Franken did not apologize. In fact, he made it clear that he disagreed with his accusers. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Others I remember very differently.” Earlier, Franken had in fact apologized to his accusers, and he didn’t take his apologies back now, but he made it plain that they had been issued in the hopes of facilitating a conversation and an investigation that would clear him.
posted by corb at 7:58 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]



I'm not a fan of the accuse-then-punish two step system, much.


you'll be very relieved to discover that Al Franken has not been "punished" in any way, then.

I'm not sure that anything he did is prosecutable at this point, regardless of proof. but it hardly matters, since nobody is prosecuting him for anything. Additionally, he wasn't fired. He quit. It was the least he could do without compounding his offenses, and he did it belatedly and ungraciously.

Do you think that feminist women not liking him anymore and his female colleagues being angry and disappointed constitutes a 'punishment'?
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:04 AM on December 8 [21 favorites]


Anyone who thinks it isn't is prioritizing other things over the lives of women.

As woman who has been through 60 years of misogyny I really take issue with that characterization of my opinion. And as a woman who saw great promise 40 years ago and seen it all taken away, I honestly don't believe that anything has changed. Maybe I will believe it if Trump faces consequences. Maybe I will believe it 20 years from now when I look around and see that it really has changed.

This moment feels like a blip to me. Another six months to a year of internet outrage.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:09 AM on December 8 [5 favorites]


And I'm also not saying that Franken should have stayed because he fought for Net Neutrality, or that he should have stayed at all, but that people are acting triumphant over Franken's resignation and I don't think that triumph is warranted.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:14 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Franken had eight women coming forward - and Tina Dupuy, a woman who writes for The Atlantic (a reputable publication) said she believed the women because Franken groped her, too.

I knew when the first one came out, that it meant he had a long history of groping and pressuring women - the only question was whether it bothered any of them enough to come forward.

I can believe he remembered it differently - that he thought it was "all in good fun," that he thought she smiled because she wasn't upset and not because she was trying to appease a predator. I can also believe that he knew, at some level, that he was lying to himself - that he's an actor, and that means having some practice understanding motivations and how those play out, and on that level that he wouldn't admit, it bothered him, enough that when the accusations became public, he was willing to say, I'm not sure how much wrong I did, but obviously these women are hurt and I have lost the trust I need to do this job well, so I'm stepping down.

And we won't get that from Republicans. Instead, as mentioned, we'll get initial callouts followed by "well, he's the guy who was elected," and claims that the ones doing the callouts are weak and ineffective. And that, too, is damage to them: they have to either all stand together as proud abusers, or those who decry perversion will be perceived as "weak cucks."

Not a damn one of them has the courage to say, "this is WRONG" and do something about it - but some of them do have enough principles to say so at first, when they're hoping not to have to work with someone they despise.

And if we keep pushing, keep insisting that the proper reaction to abuse and harassment is "you lose your job as a public representative," that will have an effect. It may not persuade their diehard "child molester is better than someone who might vote for abortion rights" contingent, but that's not everyone's chosen hill to die on.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:16 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


It may not persuade their diehard "child molester is better than someone who might vote for abortion rights" contingent, but that's not everyone's chosen hill to die on.

In fact, that contingent is cutting their own throat. By supporting loathsome candidates because they are anti-choice, they are pushing away the younger generations from their beliefs.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:23 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


I mean, a Republican is actually right now resigning because of charges of sexual harassment. A Rrepublican (and a Democrat) Minnesota Lawmaker stepped down because of charges. A Rick Scott appointment resigned after misconduct allegations.

I don't expect that both parties will respond equally, because I think one party is almost totally devoid of ethics, but the effects of #metoo are definitely not limited to one party.
posted by maxsparber at 8:25 AM on December 8 [13 favorites]


After the accusation towards Sam Kriss (an unruly UK columnist and satirist of the "overt socialism" camp) and his admission and apology, there was a lengthy post I read somewhere down the would-someone-please-think-of-human-sexuality-nuances-would-someone-please-hear-the-oppressed-male line. It was too much of a nonsense piece to deserve a referral link, but I'll summarise it's central thesis: that we believe neither the accuser nor the accused who admits the guilt.

You'll find many reactions to #metoo boils down to this. In the case of Kriss (or Franken), the logic goes like this: "We don't trust the accuser (because misogyny both sides! due process! nuances! context!), but neither can we trust the free admission of wrongdoing and expression of contrition from the accused (even if it's a white male, and no matter it's adequate or not), for if we do that we'll have to have less misogyny they're pressured and oppressed by the feminist media!"

If that's the core of their argument, that we must not trust either side, why bother with an argument at all? If you start from there, you basically can "prove" any point. Proof by nihilism.
posted by runcifex at 8:32 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


It shows how very willing cis white dudes are to throw women and POC under the bus because apparently nothing is more important than making sure a Democrat doesn't step down.

That probably won't be an issue much longer. The long term trend is white men are exiting the Democratic Party. This doesn't mean they're automatically joining the Republicans, but more like they become "Independent" or even join a third party. Now, sexual harassment accountability did not cause this at all, but it's possible it might accelerate the trend.
posted by FJT at 8:34 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


That seems to me to be a bigger issue than whether some Dems get thrown out on the ear for being harassers, since we've seen how happy white people are to vote for third parties, especially those led by white people.
posted by maxsparber at 8:43 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Maggiemaggie, you are not furious alone. I'm relieved he resigned, but I don't consider it a sign that we're about to start prevailing. Triumphant is not what I feel at all. I had to coin a portmanteau for what I feel: miserage.

Isn't this sad: it took me a long time to think what you could possibly mean... "Forty years ago...? wha...t?" Finally, the penny dropped. Oh yeeeeeah, that quaint old thing! (Head explodes.) Another worthy piece of legislation, representing the hope of millions and whole lifetimes of tireless, dedicated labor, and it dies because somebody in congress stood up and spewed some puke about bathrooms. Any time the venal assholes in charge want to trash us, they have but to invoke the shitter.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:46 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


A palate-cleanser by Noah Berlatsky at Quartz: Al Franken's resignation is proof that Democrats have found their backbone:
People sometimes seem to think that ruthlessness and dispensing with decency and morals is a sign of strength. Mitch McConnell is supposed to be a master tactician because he refused to give Merrick Garland a hearing, and allowed Trump to appoint a Supreme Court justice in contravention of every Senate norm. Trump launches personal attacks against individuals on Twitter and is still president, which is supposed to be a sign of his invulnerability.

But you don’t have to be strong or ruthless to do harm. Like Roy Moore, you just need to be petty and willing to prey on the weak.

Doing the right thing, on the other hand, requires more commitment and more character. It means being willing to confront injustice wherever it exists, even if it’s committed by people you like—and people you need.
I totally, 100%, agree with Berlatsky. I am glad we are doing the right thing, and glad that Democrats want to stand for honesty and integrity. As I've said before - if the backbone of our party is women and POC (black women, in particular) then tossing them under the bus in a game of more-ruthless-than-thou will hurt, not help, us.

I think the days are long gone when a Democratic politician can be corrupt/have mistresses/be gross with his underlings in private but everyone is OK with that because He's Our Guy And Does So Much Good, So STFU. Democrats should not be scared rabbits, but being face-eating leopards will backfire, I think. Let the Republicans be the party of leopards eating faces if that's what they want - I think it will eventually destroy them.

Finally, I hope Masha Gessen (whom I respect, and often agree with) isn't reviving the cry of "Meanie Puritans spoiling our fun! Gawwwd, can you stop being such unsophisticated, buzzkilling hicks?" that liberals were desperate to avoid with regards to Bill Clinton. (Tara Burton, Vox)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:49 AM on December 8 [12 favorites]



This moment feels like a blip to me. Another six months to a year of internet outrage.


It feels the same to me. but I feel good about pretending it'll last, because you never do know. and I think a lot of what you see is not triumph, but the feverish desperate urge to make the most of the blip before it passes. I want it to be a change and not a seasonal trend but anybody over -- 25? 18? has lived long enough to realize feminist surges travel hopefully but never arrive. but I like to think of that dumb speech in The Silver Chair -- you know, maybe there is no sun, maybe there never was a sun, maybe we're all fools living in a fool's feminist dream, but I remember the sun, and believing in it makes me wiser and happier, better to be a dead feminist than a live patriarch, etc. etc. etc.

essentially it is noble to believe that progress is real even if it is also stupid. I respect any woman who is too tired to get excited about it for the twillionth time but every tirade and puff of outrage helps. if it doesn't help the world, it certainly helps me feel better. if this is only a brief interlude and not a real movement, all the more reason to wring every drop of enlightenment from it before the moment passes.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:03 AM on December 8 [17 favorites]


I just went off in the comments on a Facebook post by an indie NYC theater producer of some renown, who posted that Franken's resignation was "a gross miscalculation by Ms. Gillibrand". I pointed out that sexual misconduct is not a partisan issue, and therefore it should not be anything about which a poltiical party can be "calculating". But then I pointed out that Senator Schumer also called for Franken's resignation, so why was he pointing the finger at Senator Gillibrand only?

And just now while writing this I realized he referred to her as "Ms." Gillibrand and just went back again and pointed out that the correct address is SENATOR, please.

....I will confess in here that I may have been fueled by a previous interaction with the guy - not sexual, but absolutely gendered. I was on the staff of a friend's theater company - in fact, he and I were the only regular members - and we were co-producing a show with this guy. My (male) partner was more hands-on for this particular production - he was the lighting designer and we were putting up part of the money, but I was more of a "keep the rest of the office running" capacity and wasn't around the rehearsals for this. At our NYC premiere, my partner was in conversation with Producer about something, when I wandered by and my partner introduced me, clearly stating that I was the company's literary manager.

Producer Dude gave me barely a glance - and then gave me a drink order and went back into conversation with my partner. I was stunned enough at the cheek that I was just stuck there blinking a couple seconds - and he saw that, turned back to me, gave me a hard stare, and repeated his drink order. I just went and got it for him, at a loss what else to do.

I was considerably less assertive then, so I didn't know how to call him on it. But I was incensed that to this guy, the fact that I was a woman meant that I was clearly just in a service capacity rather than an artistic one. So you bet your ass I am going to call him on his belittling and diminishing of women's roles now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on December 8 [20 favorites]


....My friend just quietly confirmed he's in my corner with this. He was a little too distracted to call Producer Guy on writing me off as a waitress at the time, and I spoke to my partner later ("dude, why didn't you say anything?") and he apologized, and admitted he should have and allowed that Producer Guy "can be an asshole". He has backed me up on my comment now - and I've privately messaged him to confess that "I may be a little harder on the dude because of that moment at the play" but promised him that I would still call him out on sexism, but I would refrain from calling the guy a "fuckstick" while doing so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


"Whether or not Franken's resignation was right, I don't see it as a win."

Yes, the huge difference is that some people seem to think holding him accountable was when things went wrong.

While, you know, maybe be mad at AL FUCKING FRANKEN for being a fucking hypocrite pig??!!

Why is it so hard to understand? He's the one who betrayed us, and you're passing that blame onto the women who called him out.

Dont want your career to be ruined by accusations of misogyny? Don't be a misogynist! Wow fucking genius idea, I'll be receiving my Nobel prize any day now.
posted by Tarumba at 10:13 AM on December 8 [27 favorites]


Yes, the huge difference is that some people seem to think holding him accountable was when things went wrong.

Well that's the thing isn't it? Blaming women when they talk about men's bad behavior. It's right out of the GamerGate playbook, though it goes back a lot longer than that. It's a classic way to shut women down.

That and the new thing, which is to whine about "Due Process", which translated is "Women shut up and let us sweep this under the rug." Talk to the women assaulted by Bill Cosby or Woody Allen about "Due Process".

Due process is bullshit designed to protect sexual predators. Let's not hear any more about it.
posted by happyroach at 11:10 AM on December 8 [8 favorites]


That and the new thing, which is to whine about "Due Process", which translated is "Women shut up and let us sweep this under the rug."

There is no "due process" for events 5-20 years old. There are no criminal investigations, no possibilities of lawsuits. At most, "due process" means, "let's confirm that these are credible allegations before deciding what action to take."

They were confirmed as credible. The actions after that were part of due process: public outcry, calls for resignation, and declarations of betrayal are about the only penalties available at that point.

I can understand the "let's not be hasty" approach, but I'm not sure what the "due process!!!" people think that means in this context - let's hold some hearings and wait another couple of months before, what, deciding he should've stepped down a couple of months ago? Let's declare that this was all long in the past and it won't happen again, so he doesn't have to face any consequences for it?

I think that's what they want: more status quo where men who dodge their victims for a few years can get away with it forever. And that's not what "due process" means.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:19 AM on December 8 [14 favorites]


> This moment feels like a blip to me. Another six months to a year of internet outrage.

I understand the feeling, but 1) I've seen a lot of blips too, and this feels more substantial, with more chance to make real change (though of course it may well fade away like the rest), and 2) despair is the worst, it hands victory to the other side without a struggle—we have to wield hope as a weapon. Keep it honed!
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on December 8 [6 favorites]


I think that's what they want: more status quo where men who dodge their victims for a few years can get away with it forever. And that's not what "due process" means.

Even if it applies, which it doesn’t. You don’t need to go through “due process” before removing someone from their job. What they seem to want it to mean is, “Let the qualified people decide whether your complaint has merit or not,” as if the accuser isn’t qualified to decide that for herself.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:25 PM on December 8 [4 favorites]


The firings is really new. It’s not hitting the richest/whitest/most influential but I know I definitely hit a “Delenda est Carthago” moment that surprised me with its vehemence. I have no tolerance for people being mealy mouthed about consent anymore. “They are reluctant so I had to persuade them” is and always has been bullshit. I don’t care if I loved you before, burn it down and salt the earth.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:31 PM on December 8 [10 favorites]


I want it to be a change and not a seasonal trend but anybody over -- 25? 18? has lived long enough to realize feminist surges travel hopefully but never arrive.

Maybe. But preemptively giving up on even trying because 'it won't matter anyway' will 100% guarantee it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:00 PM on December 8 [8 favorites]


I want it to be a change and not a seasonal trend but anybody over -- 25? 18? has lived long enough to realize feminist surges travel hopefully but never arrive.

The egalitarian society we want, the one we imagine, never gets here, but things do get better. Thirty years ago, women didn't have the right to have bank accounts of their own. 25 years ago, marital rape was still legal in some states. (It's, sigh, still semi-legal in some cases - the laws of consent are different between spouses.) And as much as the right-wing assholes dislike it, they can no longer go into a place of business, demand to see "the one in charge," and be certain that if they make enough noise, a man will be produced as "in charge."

Every bit helps. Every wave erodes some of their dirt.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:19 PM on December 8 [18 favorites]



Maybe. But preemptively giving up on even trying


right, but that's what I'm saying -- all those of us who have seen moments of apparent change inexplicably dissipate before, which is all of us, know that we aren't guaranteed to win. and we are extra dedicated because of that knowledge, not because we are deluded into thinking that suddenly we can snap our fingers and the walls will fall just because of the zeitgeist or something. this is a misunderstanding on the part of those observers who mistake conviction for naivete or even optimism. fighting and trying isn't contingent on needing to believe that this time is different. I don't know if it is or if it isn't, and nobody will know for a few decades. but I have energy and outrage to spare just the same. if anybody needs some. I'm not a feminist because I know how to pick a winning team, but because I like being right. morally, factually, cosmically. being right keeps me going even when all hope is lost.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:21 PM on December 8 [13 favorites]


That and the new thing, which is to whine about "Due Process", which translated is "Women shut up and let us sweep this under the rug."

Jesus, that's a bit hostile. I have no idea if that's how the right or others are using it. I said it above meaning... due process. Treat every accuser seriously, hear their claims, investigate as much as possible, and then treat all the accused fairly and equally as a result, regardless of party affiliation. It's probably a pipe dream, but I think it's a reasonable wish. Trial by mob and trial by media both stink.

While I've spent the last couple days mainly thinking about What Comes Next, not about Franken et al, it is true that losing Franken also pains me, because he seemed to be one of very few people in Congress who seemed to get it and actually fight for real people; I can't think of a big issue he was on the wrong side of. But he resigned and (mostly) acknowledged some of the claims, so at least some of them must have been legit, obviously, and the party is, yes, probably stronger on these issues without him, as we move forward. And being a party that doesn't tolerate that sort of thing is a good thing, for sure. Does anyone doubt this?

My problem is that I think we're inching closer and closer a rush to judgment system in the near term, manipulated by Republican strategists to obvious ends. Republicans will (perhaps falsely) accuse any Democrat they wish to be rid of, and Democrats and the media might be a little too eager to trip over themselves to help in doing so. The reason this comes to mind right after Franken's betrayal came to light is that I can't think of a Senator that the Republicans would have more wished to be rid of, based on his work over the past year or so.

(Republicans similarly accused will not only not resign, a whole lot of them will probably win reelection by denying or obfuscating or delaying, yup. I mean, of course they will. It's still working for them, after all, and cleaning up the Democratic house won't inspire them to change their behavior. We still have to do it, but it's hard to feel good about it while they cackle.)

This sucks. Very much. And I don't even have a sharper solution than slow down and make damn sure about each and every case. I can't help but think we're on the precipice of the Democrats winning yet another high-ground battle, winning another moral victory... while eating our own, and losing a whole lot more elections.

And I'm kind of tired of losing elections. Is all.
posted by rokusan at 7:09 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


Treat every accuser seriously, hear their claims, investigate as much as possible, and then treat all the accused fairly and equally as a result, regardless of party affiliation.

Who should be doing this investigating? If the accused is an elected official, there may be an ethics committee, but they normally don't investigate claims of misbehavior that took place years or decades ago, and they don't operate on courtroom standards of evidence or witness treatment. If the accused is a celebrity or CEO, there is no investigating body outside of the media.

I, too, am sorry to see Franken go; he was one of the few who understood tech and supported the needs of people who will never get anywhere near the 1%er tax brackets. But he was also a celebrity who took advantage of his position to "get handsy," and did it often enough that many years later, many women were still upset and hurt by his behavior.

And I'm kind of tired of losing elections. Is all.

We need to make this a part of the early issues in a campaign: "I stand against sexual misconduct and harassment; I am in favor of all romantic behavior being between equally consenting adults; I do not believe any type of clothing, drink choices, or previous history is any kind of excuse to harass or molest someone."

Make damn sure both candidates get asked about their stance on the importance of consent - and start digging through the history of anyone who says anything other than a variant of "there is no such thing as nonconsensual sex- just like there's no such thing as 'breathing swimming' and 'non-breathing swimming.' We call the latter drowning, and we call sex without consent, rape."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:23 PM on December 8 [11 favorites]


An addendum that I don't believe has been mentioned yet: editor of the Paris Review, Lorin Stein, has resigned after accusations of sexual impropriety. He was once described by the NYT as a "serial dater" and "party boy". His wife, Sadie, is editor of the Review website. Before that she was Lorin Stein's deputy editor, and, before that, worked for Jezebel. They married in 2015. The Review has posted a statement that this is an opportunity, not a disaster. It is by-lined "Staff" so not clear if Sadie wrote it or not. Lorin Stein has also resigned his editorship at Farrar, Strauss. He and Sadie shared a last name but were not related (until they married).
posted by CCBC at 7:52 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


The obvious solution to this:
1) Thoroughly vet candidates before they run for office. Continue to work to create an atmosphere where victims are believed so that they will come forward as soon as someone puts their name forward as a candidate.
2) If you are a person with political aspirations, take a moment to be self reflective about who you are and what you have done in the many phases of your life. If you have done terrible things in the past, or if you think you were a saint or a really funny guy but other people might report that those awesome, funny things you did were shitty, sit the fuck down.
3) Assuming self-reflection fails (and it seems like it frequently does), when stuff does come to light, don't vote for the person, no matter how much you like other things about them. Find another candidate who hasn't done shitty stuff. There are plenty of them out there. A lot of them are women who have trouble even getting noticed when the choice is between them and a celebrity or an already up and coming dude being heavily promoted by the party. Be willing to question the biases of the party, the media, and yourself when choosing who to vote for.

In addition to the recently revealed incidents (whose accusers didn't come forward sooner because they thought they wouldn't be believed and would be trashed in the media--now why would they think that?), Franken had all that Playboy shit and a bunch of shitty jokes in his past that should have come to light before anyone considered him a serious candidate. We need better candidates. (We need better bosses. We need better friends. We need better lovers.)
posted by hydropsyche at 4:46 AM on December 9 [9 favorites]


To lighten the mood a tiny bit - someone posted this filk of the song "Everything is Awesome" when I shared a link to a new pair of NPR firings, and it made me chuckle anyway:

"Everyone's a groper,
Everyone's a jerk, that is clear to be seen,
Everyone's a groper,
In 2017...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:37 AM on December 9 [3 favorites]


Hydropsyche: your post makes me think back on 2004 and John Edwards, John Kerry's pick for VP. And how he wasn't sufficiently vetted so that the bombshell of his affair and child out of wedlock were missed and/or overlooked. Edwards didn't coerce or harass Rielle Hunter as far as I know, but cheating on your cancer-stricken wife and fathering a child with your mistress is gross and sleazy, and people (me included!) haaaated John Edwards for it.

So yes, definitely a thorough vetting of candidates, and no, this is not going to reduce politicians to soulless corporate drones, as I've heard people wittering about. It means we will have to select for decent people and not face-eating leopards, or at least sexually harassing face-eating leopards. And no, smoking a joint does not equate to sexual harassment (as I've also heard people wittering about). We're past the "I didn't inhale" days; IIRC Barack Obama smoked loads of weed in his college days and no-one cared a bit.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:58 AM on December 9 [5 favorites]


"this is not going to reduce politicians to soulless corporate drones"

The fact that you have heard people say not harassing = soulless is really fucking creepy.
posted by Tarumba at 7:07 AM on December 9 [7 favorites]


Republicans will (perhaps falsely) accuse any Democrat they wish to be rid of,

First and foremost, if it's not false, then they deserve to be accused whether Republicans want to be rid of them or not. Be better people, legislators. And Dems, run women until you can have a better vetting process.

Secondly, most women do not want to make false accusations. Any accusation at all involves digging into your entire past and future, for decades. The incidence of false accusations is incredibly, incredibly low. What there are a lot of incidents of is women who cannot prove their accusations to whatever new high bar men are forcing them to jump over. And those hurdles are bullshit.
posted by corb at 7:09 AM on December 9 [13 favorites]


There's a really good piece about feeling conflicted over Al Franken.
Because we built a system that has encouraged and protected and revered people like Franken. Because our society has benefitted greatly from the contributions of men — of abusers — who also worked hard to advance progressive causes and to keep the worst of conservative agenda at bay. Because we made bad deals and bargained away the humanity of women in order to avoid the very hard work of having to fix what was broken.

Al Franken was able to rise to the rank of U.S. senator without addressing the harm he had done women because we as a society and we as a political party did not think that it was that important. Because we have never held likable men who abuse women accountable for their actions unless forced to do so. Because we have always sold out the wellbeing of individual women for the benefit of the collective — as if the collective isn’t also made up of individual women.
posted by corb at 7:32 AM on December 9 [18 favorites]


all those of us who have seen moments of apparent change inexplicably dissipate before, which is all of us, know that we aren't guaranteed to win. and we are extra dedicated because of that knowledge, not because we are deluded into thinking that suddenly we can snap our fingers and the walls will fall just because of the zeitgeist or something.

Thank you for putting words to this, queenofbithynia. I've been trying to verbalize why it upsets me so much to see men performing despair around this topic specifically (which I have seen a lot of on Metafilter lately - Trump will be president until he dies, Roy Moore will win, etc), and this really gets at why. Yall are upset because you apparently just found out about this. WOMEN KNOW. And we keep going anyway, but you have to make it all about you and your feelings. Just stop.
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:53 AM on December 9 [21 favorites]


This only "tears the Democrats apart" if you let it. If you choose to stand by Al Franken and not by the women who he groped, you are the one tearing the Democratic party apart. If we could just get all Democrats behind the idea that we are the party that does the right thing, we will not be torn apart.

this a million times, and it goes way beyond the Democratic Party, it goes way beyond the US of A -- it applies to every group-organization-team-family anywhere that thinks of itself as decent, nurturing, benevolent, good. To say that the end justifies the means is to absolutely miss the point of post Holocaust, post Hiroshima/Nagasaki human reality. We can't play that way anymore. That way = annihilation. Now the means are the end. They must be. There are too many of us with too much access to ammo (metaphorical and otherwise) to do things any other way. Humanity is nothing if not a vast and stubborn ship operating in complex waters, and we're forced to turn and change direction, because we must. Because in the old direction (the one that got us to World War 2), the world really is flat and we will fall off the edge. Soon. As for the other, well let's just focus on the turning for now ...

yes, I did wake up this morning feeling hyperbolic
posted by philip-random at 10:50 AM on December 10 [8 favorites]


I'm not a feminist because I know how to pick a winning team, but because I like being right.

Thankyou for this. I'll keep fighting even if all the dudes keep whining about due process and #NotAllMen and making excuses to put this reckoning off. Because fuckit, consent is important and as Laurie Penny shows, (for those of you who skipped the article) making excuses for lack of consent in any aspect of society just leads to fascism. It's either full consent or a slow descent into fascism, and I'm not perfect but there's no fucking way I'm choosing fascism.
posted by harriet vane at 4:45 AM on December 11 [8 favorites]


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