When we saw the Al Franken image the other day, we joked that groping was something both political parties could agree on. We mentioned that in a country of 300 million people, it shouldn't be too tough to find 100 folks to represent us in the Senate who have NOT groped sleeping women. We anticipated some disappointment from liberals that someone who had been a champion of women's issues could have behaved so badly.
Instead, we discovered that we're entering a new state of sexual assault awareness: CONFUSED MEN ARE SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL!!!
A candidate for governor in Ohio posted this:
"Dogs of war"? "Passionate love"? "HAYLOFT"?!?!
Does Bill O'Neill think that because Al Franken photographed himself groping a sleeping woman, all men who have ever had consensual sex are going to be arrested? Or driven from their jobs? Or castrated?!?!
On our Facebook page, someone also seemed concerned about their past behavior:
Thanks for the heads up! Just because you made out with someone at a party, that doesn't mean your future career in public service is doomed, man!
Then, also on our Facebook page, someone brought up the idea that this can't be sexual assault, because it was a comedian:
"A far different time"? It was 11 years ago!
"Crucify people"? Franken is still in office. No charges are pending. And he certainly hasn't been nailed to a cross and left to die in the sun.
Now that is something we know a little something about! We love comedy! We love free speech, open minds, and give pretty wiiiiiiiiiiide latitude of what can be funny. So we thought we would demonstrate the difference between Franken's photo and some things we've done.
Note in the photo at the top that one of the people in the photo is asleep.
Now, check out something we've done:
Note that both people in this photo are conscious. Both people involved in the photo consented to having the photo taken. As well, this was part of a "spoof" catalogue we did, and we included the original photo we were parodying:
The joke is that RAYGUN was pretending to make a sexy Abercrombie ad, with a not-so-in-shape-guy (me) standing at a bus stop, instead of really in shape guys with butt-cracks out walking through a field.
Could we debate the tastefulness or funny-ness of our photo? Sure!
Does Al Franken groping a sleeping woman in a photo mean that I am going to be "crucified" for having the top of my butt-crack out in a spoof ad we did?
However, should I be concerned if I have taken photos of myself groping women while they are asleep?
Because groping women while they are asleep is not acceptable behavior. I mean, even as I type that, I'm thinking, "Was there really a time when that WAS acceptable behavior?" Or was it just behavior that was infuriating for women, but ignored or overlooked?
On our Facebook page, others were getting into some moral gymnastics regarding what is sexual assault, statute of limitations, etc:
Well, you might feel differently if you were groped in your sleep, and then that groper went on to elected office as not only a champion of women's rights, but as a critic of a President accused of doing a similar thing.
What's worse, there is a photo of him doing it.
We often say that we need proof from women who accuse men of misbehavior, but even when there is proof, there's this:
That was rated as "FALSE" by Snopes. But it is a telling strategy: even if a woman has proof, the opposition dig up other photos and claim ulterior motives.
Men, c'mon! Don't start flailing like a cornered animal, take a chill pill!
This is not a "war on men" where normal, acceptable behavior is suddenly going to lead to mass imprisonment, or cutting-off-of-wieners. This is not a "witch hunt," because an actual "witch hunt" is the total opposite of this: it was men killing women.
This is a calling-out of unacceptable behavior in order to move the bar of expectations up for society.
If, as men, we don't call out this kind of behavior as unacceptable, it suddenly makes all of us seem like boob-grabbing-assholes.
For me, someone who is not a boob-grabbing-asshole, I welcome this new normal.
There are plenty of qualified people in this country who can lead and pass quality legislation, but can do it without sexually assaulting people.
At least I hope so!
But if we give it a shot, and find that only men who grope women can pass legislation, then we'll have to recalibrate our expectations.