The problem with The Case of Al Franken
I usually make a point not to give attention to the stories that go deep in to the story of those accused of sexual harassment. But this one can’t be ignored. Let’s break down why this particular story in the New Yorker is so problematic:
What message does this send to women in the future about reporting harassment in the future, especially particularly powerful men? That they get an abnormally long piece written (13,000 words!) about everything they have "lost" since their bad behavior was called out.
This story goes in to great detail ticking off line-by-line the parts of accuser Leeann Tweeden’s story that “don’t hold up to fact-checking” as the author said on Twitter. There was photographic and video evidence of what she said happened. This felt so gross and the scrutiny would have been better reserved for Franken's behavior and why he felt that it was okay.
Seven other women came forward at the time reporting similar occurrences. Seven.
Franken’s argument isn’t that he didn’t do it. It’s that there was more context to understand about the circumstances. Basically he said, he’s a comedian and it was part of the show they were doing.
Al Franken resigned. Voluntarily. Does he now regret doing so? Apparently. That’s it. That’s the story.
The story quotes a former colleague as equating what “happened to Al Franken” (again, wrong phrasing) as tantamount to political capital punishment. No. What Al Franken gave up (not lost) was a Senate seat. He was not imprisoned or killed for what he did.
Kirstin Gillibrand is still being held as the villain for calling on his resignation. Let’s keep the accountability where it belongs: on Franken.
These are the ways in which we continue to perpetuate harassment culture - by focusing on the accused and what they “stand to lose.” Where’s the deep dive in to what the women who are the targets of harassment have lost?
Stop with the arguments of “#metoo gone too far” with the harassers as victims. Not everything deserves the same punishment and losing (even being pressured to resign from) your job is not the same as going to prison. An appropriate level of accountability is what is called for. Frankenstein chose his own path.
Keep the accountability with him where it belongs.
Read the story: The Case of Al Franken