[TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT, TOXIC MASCULINITY]
So I just saw the news on Facebook about Al Franken's assault of a woman and his apology and request for a formal investigation into his actions. And the response I'm seeing from liberals is largely "look how much better this is than Roy Moore's response to the many accusations of preying on underage girls."
Yes, it is better. Obviously. Trying to be better than U.S. Republicans on pretty much anything is the world's lowest bar.
And when I first read Al Franken's statement, I was pleasantly surprised. I was happy with it. But then I read the whole story from his victim, and I realized that an apology and an investigation isn't nearly enough.
Her story was pretty triggering for me, because it's not your standard story of some drunk entitled rich white man grabbing a woman because male entitlement. He tried to manipulate this woman into kissing him by saying that they needed to rehearse it for a sketch. At first she was like "lol what no we don't" but he kept insisting and wouldn't let up so she eventually said ok to get him off her fucking back.
This is such a common tactic of men. This is the dude who keeps badgering a woman for sex, counting on the fact that women are raised not to say no. Saying "no" is literally stressful and difficult for us every single time, and I think on some level up to and including the 100% conscious level, men understand that. That's why so much of the awful men's "dating" (read: predator behavior) advice is "don't take no for an answer."
But it gets worse. After he first assaulted Leeann Tweeden, she shoved him off of her and told him off, later refusing to kiss him on the mouth in the sketch and generally giving him the cold shoulder, because he fucking sexually assaulted her. Later on this tour they were on, Al Franken assaulted her again, an action which was so clearly done to punish her for rejecting him and standing up for herself.
He touched her breasts while she was asleep and then had someone photograph it while he looks back at the camera, smiling. This was an act of deliberate humiliation. It's a perfect illustration of the fact that sexual assault is so often not about sex or sexual arousal at all. It's about men lording their power over women. Clearly he didn't think he was going to get into her pants, because she obviously hated him after the first assault. Nobody can attempt to brush this off as a moment of passion where he "lost control," which is bullshit 95% of the time anyway and also why can't men control themselves. He set up a pose in which he was assaulting a woman and had someone else photograph it, leaving actual photographic evidence of him committing sexual assault because he knew he would be immune from any consequences. Until now, when suddenly consequences are happening for some reason.
So no, an apology isn't enough. An apology to her isn't enough, and an apology to women as a whole isn't enough. Saying he's ashamed isn't enough and an investigation isn't enough.
Should he step down? He could, but it isn't enough.
To me, what would be enough is Al Franken spending a good amount of time, at least a few weeks, probably months, contemplating why he did what he did and considering the toxic masculinity that led him to commit sexual assault twice, once as a deliberate attempt to humiliate and punish the woman he had already assaulted. I then want a 20-page essay minimum on the subject that shows he truly understands his actions and the harm he caused. Then he needs to commit the rest of his life to fighting toxic masculinity, talking to his fellow white men about the entitlement problems that make them think they're allowed to assault women and the toxic male rage that occurs when they're told they can't. That would be enough.
That probably means he would need to resign from his current post. Because nothing less would be acceptable. And he should also ensure that a liberal woman is set up to replace him.
If he's really ashamed of his actions and want to make up for it, this is what he needs to do. Anything less will tell me that he's yet another sexual predator who is not actually ashamed of committing sexual assault because he is a sexual predator.
Stand by for more women to come forward with their stories of Al Franken assaulting them.