Pantsuit Nation
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Pantsuit Nation

Every Comparison and Exception For Him Is A Loss For Her

Unless these men are going to be on some kind of trading card next year, we’re wasting time comparing sexual violations…

Me, extending open arms to Anthony Weiner at the New York City Gay Pride March in June, 2013. Weiner is currently serving time in prison for sexting with a fifteen-year old girl. Photo courtesy of nypost.com

I know how hard it is to accept that a man you respect is a sex offender.

My affection for Anthony Weiner was sealed on a scorching hot Sunday during the 2013 New York City Gay Pride March. Weiner made a b-line towards me while I hung off the police barricade in all my pink, drunken glory.

The photo above circulated throughout New York City (an image of Weiner and I is still taped on the window of a gay sex shop in Chelsea) and various online publications. Most of its traction came from a New York Post article which paired the photograph with an expose on the married politician, detailing a pattern of disturbing behavior Weiner subjected toward women and employers.

The infamous photograph, blown up, framed, and hung on in the center of my living room. It was quite the conversation piece in my apartment, until I threw it out sometime in 2015.

I had experienced a variety of harassment from men in the workplace, similar to the kind Weiner subjected his employees to. I had also been quite vocal on how repulsive and disrespectful dick pics are. However, with Weinstein, I made an exception.

During the 2016 election, it was his sexting with a minor that lead to HRC being re-investigated by the FBI. As Weiner’s name was being tossed around like a softball, my peers inundated me with reminders of how I doubled-down on my support for the sex offender back in 2013.

As Anthony Weiner serves his 21-month prison sentence for transferring sexual materials to a minor, I have no choice but to account for all the unwarranted exceptions I made. What had I lost by playing down the sexually offensive behavior of a man? Why hadn’t I considered the impact of his behavior? Did I not realize that he was amongst a mojority of human beings who participate in rape culture? Why do so many of us hand out exceptions to undeserving men, to the point that we betray our own feminist ideology? These are questions America needs to be asking at the kitchen table.

A group of female SNL former cast and crew members lost the key to their collective mind and released a statement announcing that Al Franken never sexually harassed them. They also thanked him for never making a pass on them, and sent “support and gratitude to Al.” Is that worthy of applause? Or, a smack in the face to the brave women who spoke against the ways he violated them, in ways he does not deny? I’m going with the latter. Sexual offenders do not need a cheerleading squad, they need a judge and a jury. Few would be shocked to discover that the SNL alumni who participated in this statement are otherwise logical women, aware of the oppression and trauma that stems from the kind of sexual violation Franken commited. However, because of their love and affection for Franken, they’ve made an exception.

A statement on how not to be feminist as fucc

And then there’s Lena Dunham. Everyone knows how she played herself like she was starring in a damn Lifetime movie. Spending the bulk of her career encouraging women to take a knee against sexual assault of all forms, only to stay seated when her guy, Girls writer, Murray Miller, is the sexual offender. Dunham didn’t hesitate to make an exception.

You know what happens when one woman (especially a woman who has international attention at the tip of her fingers) speaks out against another woman who confesses to being sexually assaulted? Another hundred women bite their tongue and continue to hide in the shadows. Because, speaking out against someone who’s committed a sexual offense of any form is one of the scariest things a woman can do.

We need to be on the same page.

Women have been allowing too many men to feel secure about their participation in rape culture. Defending a sex offender, trying to convince everyone (including ourselves) that what a sex offender did wasn’t as bad as the last guy, and wanting the world to know “He never did it to me,” is supporting a male narrative. That narrative doesn’t protect us from the sexual violations, aggressions, misconduct and consequences we’ve been dealing with since Adam and Eve. We are creating poor comparisons and making undeserved exceptions so that men can continue violating us, unpunished and without guilt. Women need to re-route the narrative so that we’re defending all cis and trans women.

At this very moment, men all over this world are trying to tell us of what they can do with our bodies. They’re trying to convince us that a grab, or a bill, or Bill, or a tongue (ewww!), isn’t that bad when you compare it to rape. We can’t educate the savable men and protect our house if we’re going to waste time caressing the conscious of offensive, misogynistic male ideology. Every exception and comparison made for the sake of defending a sexual offender waters down the confessions brave cis and trans women are making. Too many women are getting in the way of a movement we so desperately need, all for the sake of defending ‘good’ men.

During the season finale of Real Time, Bill Maher and Chelsea Handler took up too much of my real time trying to convince the audience that Franken was not a predator. They were passionate about it, too. Sadly, they failed to acknowledge how disgusting and VIOLATING it is for a man to put his tongue in a woman’s mouth or his hand on her butt. The need to speak against sexual offenses in all forms has taken a backseat to defending and protecting the image of a sex offender who is ‘otherwise’ a good guy (which is the kind of oxymoron that we need to start understanding does not exist).

We can’t heal our wounds and campaign for Al at the same time. It doesn’t matter how sweet you think Louis CK’s apology was that his assistant probably wrote. These men and their actions do not deserve our affection or fanfare. If you have to compare a pervert to a rapist in order to make him sound like a ‘decent’ guy, you’ve gone too far.

I repeat: I know how hard it is to accept that a man you respected is a sex offender. For the men and women who refuse to let go of their exceptions… sorry, Charlie. Once that man participates in even a suggestion of sexually offensive action, behavior, or discussion, he becomes a topic at the kitchen table. Don’t be concerned with what troubles Al Franken will face later on down the road, or, how many people are comparing him with Roy Moore. Be concerned with how we’re going to make it clear to everyone that an unwelcomed touch, kiss, grab, rub, dick pic is wrong. No exceptions.

Tamela J. Gordon is a writer, community organizer, and creator of the women’s empowerment group, Sisters with Aspiration, as well as SWA’s Book Club. Support Tamela’s work and gain access to exclusive content by FOLLOWING HER ON PATREON and joining SWA’s Book Club! Contact: shewritestolive@gmail.com

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Tamela J. Gordon

Tamela J. Gordon

Freelance writer, tarot card reader, self-care advocate. There’s more, but whatever.