It is somewhat different hearing that a person you care about has been accused of sexual misconduct. What I felt when I heard about our own Minnesota Senator Al Franken today took me off my guard and made me sick to my stomach. I was at the health club but had to leave. It was difficult. It isn’t that I doubted a woman’s story. I wasn’t thinking he was innocent. It just hurt inside.
I listened to the woman’s story. What a sincere and credible person! She has forgiven Franken, she said. I felt for her as a woman, a mother and a grandmother.
I went on line and read Franken’s statement, which I will post at the end of this blog. I am not going to in any way defend what he did or try to water it down. But there are a couple of things that make me proud of him and that also give me encouragement about the future of our culture. First of all, he didn’t deny what he’d done. He apologized to the woman and to his staff and to the people of Minnesota who put their trust in him. He said he let down those women who turn to him to represent them as he defended their right to be heard.
The most important thing to me, however, relates to what I’d been thinking just before I read his statement. He said that he has reflected over the years about the kind of comedy he participated in, realizing now how disrespectful and harmful it was to women.
Sexual humor has always made me uncomfortable. As a women, to hear men joke women’s body parts was violating to me. I felt embarrassment as though it were me personally they were talking about. Along this line, the entertainment industry in general has been harmful to women. I could list tons of examples, but I won’t here. Too many.
For me, Al Franken’s statement wasn’t encouraging because he is a senator accused and not going overboard to deny and blame, but it is an encouragement because he is a member of the entertainment world admitting that his craft has done harm and he regrets his part in it. I only hope his peers in that industry pay attention.
Here is Franken’s comment: