Note: Today, Leeann Tweeden said Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed her and released a picture of him groping her as she slept. Sen. Franken apologized. On June 7, 2008, I published an OpEd in the Star Tribune with Shannon Drury with the same title as this piece standing up for Al Franken just before a difficult Democratic primary, in which the center-stage issue for him was controversy over rape jokes he had written for Saturday Night Live. The piece was influential in his moving forward, and noted that we were the current and immediate past presidents of Minnesota NOW. Tonight, I hurt. This is what I have to say on November 16, 2017, under this same title. What kind of candidate truly respects women?
Why are we asking the wrong questions?
Why is the most sought-out speech for a feminist woman the praise or denunciation of a man in politics?
Why are our voices most compelling when we are supporting the guy, taking down the guy, or sharing our pain? Why are the roles available to us cheerleaders, hecklers, and the injured? When will we get to be the referees and the players?
Why are almost all the political leaders men?
Why is the partisan divide more powerful than public disgust with men sexually assaulting women?
Why did white women vote for Donald Trump? Why do they think white supremacy will give them an advantage when so clearly, white supremacy and sexism are inextricably interconnected? Do we hate ourselves that much?
Why are creeps cultivating support from feminist women and using the little political capital we have when they know they are grabbing ass and even if we don’t know that, we’ll be the ones left to pick up the pieces later?
Why are men so loved for repeating feminist women’s words, including within the women’s movement?
Why are we knowingly tolerating posers? Who don’t we know is a poser?
Why are women being raped, harassed, propositioned, stalked, and belittled in spaces that call themselves progressive?
Why are we not connecting politicians crapping on a woman’s right to abortion to those politicians cupping women’s asses or refusing to meet alone with us? Why are our bodies an open buffet when our minds are shoved off the table?
Why are we not collectively demanding that they all resign, including the president of the United States, Donald Trump?
Why are we being used? Why are we allowing ourselves to be used?
Where are the men who proclaim to be our allies? What is the true end for which we are the means? Why aren’t they working on the men who would never listen to us in one-on-one conversations instead of being the women’s columnists in The New York Times? Why aren’t they using their platforms that are supposedly all about advancing women to demand that women sit on the platform?
Why are we weaponizing lecherous men against women? Why do we ask the wrong questions and point fingers in the wrong directions?
Why? For God’s sake, why does no man seem to respect women? Who can we trust? When will we be free? Why, Al, is the joke coming back to us?