I believe many things these days, chief among them the fact that we’re in a moment of reckoning for men who for too long have held the levers of power and assumed that gave them the right to be awful.
I believe we need more women in charge, and fast. Men have had their chance to run things for … well, for forever, and if the present waves of revelations about sexual harassment and sexual assault by powerful men show us anything, it’s that men have royally screwed things up.
I believe Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who on Thursday was accused of groping a woman and kissing her without her consent, should step down, even though he apologized and encouraged an ethics investigation into his own behavior.
I believe Roy Moore, the Alabama judge facing numerous accusations of sexual misconduct against girls in their teens while he was in his 30s, should leave the race for U.S. Senate immediately.
I believe there should be a full investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump, even though voters overlooked those allegations and elected him.
I believe each of those cases, and myriad others surfacing now, should be looked at individually, with no bad action by one man being used to negate the bad action of another.
As the photo of Franken smirking as he reaches to grab the breasts of a sleeping woman went viral Thursday, many appropriately condemned him. And many who did that, myself included, were swiftly hit with excuses about how Moore’s alleged actions against teens are far worse than the accusation against Franken, or how allegations against Trump are more serious than Franken’s case because Trump is president.
I believe that’s a bad way to look at things. Condemning Franken isn’t excusing anyone else. We shouldn’t be measuring acts of harassment or assault by volume or severity and then letting lesser cases slide. Bad is bad. One doesn’t negate the other, or excuse the other, and letting that happen is a disservice to any of the women whose lives were damaged.
I believe no fewer than 20 men will email me to say, “Didn’t hear anything from you when Bill Clinton was president!!” To which I will respond: That’s because I was in my early 20s and not a journalist.
It was also a different time, and sex scandals were treated differently. That doesn’t make Clinton’s actions any less reprehensible, but arguing that his treatment then doesn’t measure up to the treatment of men caught up in the current wave of allegations is pointless. And dumb. And again, one man’s horrid behavior doesn’t make any other man’s horrid behavior acceptable. Ever.
I believe the problem we have in this country with men who have power sexually harassing or sexually assaulting women has nothing to do with politics or ideology or religion. It has to do with male dominance and entitlement.
And I believe these revelations of swinish male behavior, revelations that will undoubtedly continue, signal one thing: Lascivious behavior stemming from male dominance and entitlement is no longer going to be ignored or begrudgingly accepted.
I believe that’s a good thing.
And I believe we need more women in positions of power to make sure it happens. Fast.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org