Salem Redux

Sally Albright
Jan 4, 2018 · 5 min read

I’m taking a lot of heat for calling out Kirsten Gillibrand for what she did to Al Franken, but political people see this for what is it — we got trapped in our own “Believe Women” net. And now that a side hug has overshadowed real victims of violence and retaliation, the #MeToo movement is over, and the fallout has begun.

Maybe it’s different for me because this isn’t theoretical. This is the working environment I inhabit. Because Franken was not offered due process, any man knows he can’t expect it either. The only way to avoid a similar fate is the Pence rule, don’t be alone with women.

The fear that someone could appear from your past and claim something ridiculous happened that you don’t remember and thus can’t defend yourself is very real.

And even if they don’t freeze out professional women like me, they walk on eggshells. Can I hug her? Can I tell a dirty joke? Can I buy a round of shots? Maybe you think the answer should be no, but I don’t. I like to have fun, and I like to have fun in mixed company.

Nothing in DC is purely social if you work in politics, but since Al Franken wasn’t even in the Senate when it happened, apparently even social occasions are fair game.

Are we such fragile flowers that we can’t handle some raunchy humor and sloppy passes? Maybe you are, but don’t put your hang ups on me.

Everyone is saying I shouldn’t “villainize” Gillibrand, but I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. If Franken has to be “accountable” for things he doesn’t remember, shouldn’t she have to own the fallout from the rash decision she made?

Even if the decision was 100% correct (and it wasn’t) she didn’t know that. She had no way to know that and she admits she put no thought into it. She made a decision based on raw emotion.

Women making decisions based on emotion rather than reason is exactly why people fear a woman president. Gillibrand made all women look bad, and to my mind she had a responsibility not to.

Hillary would NEVER do something like that. She knew she couldn’t afford to. She fought hard not to feed the stereotype. Remember when her voice caught and the story from coast to coast was that she openly wept? There is no margin for error.

Al Franken admitted nothing, he asked for an investigation. He acknowledged that the feelings of his accusers were valid. He apologized for making them feel that way. He showed them respect. Isn’t this what we want? For men to understand?

And Franken was crucified for this. If he had taken the Trump approach, my ex-husband’s approach, if he had lied, denied, and attacked his accusers, he’d still have his job. And every man in America sees that.

It’s easy to say I’m being political, that I’m upset because he’s a Democrat. And that’s how they trapped us. They knew we’d hesitate to defend him for that very reason. But all of you saying it’s okay for him to go because Dayton is a Democrat are being just as political.

What’s done is done. He’s gone. We have a new woman Senator for the next 10 months, a lame duck with no ability to amass the power to get anything done. Hooray for Women! And we could very well lose that seat in the Fall. Probably not to Michele Bachmann, but stranger things have happened.

But Gillibrand doesn’t get a pass. She doesn’t get a pass because she’s a woman. She doesn’t a pass because you are skeeved out by Franken. She doesn’t get a pass because of good she did in the past. Franken didn’t. Life is choices. Gillibrand has to own the fallout from hers.

It isn’t about me or what I think. I’m just making observations. Gillibrand opened the door to the “She’s emotional” charge. I didn’t dream it up. It’s out there. And it won’t be me calling her out for it in 2020, it will be everybody.

The person who came out of this whole situation a winner is Amy Klobuchar. She didn’t pick up a pitch fork and join the angry mob of villagers. She made a measured statement after the die was cast.

I actually like Gillibrand, she’s been a wonderful champion for women. What I feel towards her is disappointment. I no longer think she’s a viable candidate for the presidency. Again, not a judgment, it’s an observation. We all lost. And we will feel the loss of Franken as well.

More allegations will inevitably surface against prominent figures, but I doubt anyone else will lose their jobs. I doubt Gillibrand will try it again. And she’s already moved on from Trump, purportedly her reason for insisting on zero tolerance in the first place. And this makes me angry. And sad.

I’m sad for the #MeToo movement, which was a wonderful moment for women but all too brief. What started out as validation for our experiences has now been coopted as a weapon to take down men. Arbitrarily.

The sexual assault and tangible professional retaliation the movement brought to light have now been overshadowed by “I felt uncomfortable” and “I felt fat.” And that makes me angry too.

If the line is a moving target, we cannot expect men to instinctively know where it is. Does anyone think Al Franken would EVER do it again? That’s what the standard should be. They need to learn. Let’s let them learn. Let’s make them.

Again, it’s over. I don’t have much more to say on the subject and what I do have to say will be in response to what has blown back on me, not about the original incident. What’s done is done. But I guarantee you it’s not over.

By not giving Franken a chance to defend himself, we have shown GOP, and the world, that you can take down your enemies with smoke, no need for fire. There will other LeeAnn Tweedens, sent to attack powerful people.

My hope, and my goal in talking about this so much, is that we learn from this mistake, that we keep our heads as we assess similar situations going forward and that we don’t allow this to happen again.

Previously:

Sallying

Sally Albright

Written by

Comms Strategist, Organizer, Voter Advocate, Rock&Roll Girl. Unprofessional Writer. Don’t be alarmed if I mistake you for a hat. Mailing List: sallyalbright.com

Sallying

Sallying

sal·ly (‘sa-lE) def. 1. To Rush Forward; to Leap and Dance 2. A Sudden Outburst; a Witticism; a Quip 3. A Venture Off the Beaten Path

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