I don’t know if Al Franken should resign or not, and this may be a controversial thing to say, but in my capacity as a psychotherapist, I have listened to countless women tell me about sexual abuse they suffered as children. In that context, I have also learned of the the further abuse they suffered at the hands not only of men in their families but women when the children spoke up — including their own mothers. I do feel compelled to say something that might be viewed as controversial, and that is that the current political environment seems like a hysterical pile on.
I remember an 8-year-old who was sexually abused by a number of boys being told by one of the boy’s mothers, “Boys will be boys, and the sooner you realize that, the better.” That woman’s child went on to be a serial bully, and that’s the least that I know about him.
There seems to be more nuance here than is being talked about. I can’t help but wonder how long that picture of Al Franken has been around and laughed at and joked about not only by men but by women. And I can’t help but remember how many times women have told me when I complained about sexual abuse at the hands of men, that it “all depends on how you handle them.” In other words, it was how I acted and reacted that determined the situation, not the man’s actions. I have been bullied by male family members while their behavior has been ignored and/or rationalized by women in the family. How many women have experienced these types of betrayal?
We should keep in mind that some women have used their position as victims to put forth false accusations, and we are not considering the danger of such accusations and the damage that they do. What about the lack of due process afforded male students at universities? What about anonymous complaints that result in an innocent man detained by police, putting not only his freedom at risk but his employment? Does no one remember the McMartin preschool case?
I like Kirsten Gillibrand, and I understand “Enough is enough,“ but I’m just not so sure that Al Franken should resign given other serious issues we are facing in the current political climate, and what valuable contributions he might have made in the future. It is not only women who are at risk right now. I am as sensitive as the next woman to sexual abuse. Every woman knows that practically every woman has been abused sexually in some way or another. It has been part of our culture for centuries, and some women have colluded with men in allowing it. Women have also discouraged other women from coming forward. I think I would have preferred that Franken stick around if I look at both the negatives and positives of what he could have contributed.
The numerous instances of workplace harassment that have gone on over decades I find despicable. But in any case where there is any doubt, people should be considered innocent unless proven guilty, and that’s just not happening right now. It really doesn’t matter the number of accusers. The McMartin preschool case demonstrated what can happen to innocent people when mass hysteria grips the populace.
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