That’s really important—because it goes to the heart of what so many people do not seem to “get” about sexual harassment.
I’ve had this argument with more than one person over the last couple of days. I’ve argued with intelligent people—intelligent women, no less!—who have basically said to me, “I like his politics, so what he did doesn’t matter.” Or…even worse to me, in some ways: “It’s not sexual harassment unless you tell him to stop and he refuses.”
Unless that young woman sent him a message saying “I want to see pictures of you naked,” he had no business sending her suggestive photos. She says she didn’t. Even he admits she didn’t. He says he sent the photo as “part of a joke.”
That makes him a sexual harasser. And that makes ANYONE defending him—on whatever grounds—apologists for sexual harassment.
I’m not laughing.
I loved his politics. I loved the way he seemed to be the only one who would stand up publicly to the assholes in Congress who are trying to ruin this country and run roughshod over women, LGBTs, immigrants, the poor—basically anyone who isn’t white, male, straight, and rich.
But I will not excuse him for what he did on that basis. I will not give him a pass for using his power and privilege to sexually harass anyone.
I will not sell out my expectations that progressives should be better than this. I will not sink to the level of those who will defend the Larry Craigs and David Vitters of this world, just to hang on to a seat in Congress. And for those who are wondering...I thought Bill Clinton should have resigned when the Lewinsky scandal broke—and I still think we would have avoided eight years of George W. Bush if he had.
I do not support sexual harassers, no matter what their politics happen to be. And if you are a true progressive, you shouldn’t either.
Consent matters. Integrity matters. Without them, we are no different than those we oppose—because there really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between leftist abusers of women and conservative abusers of women.
It just hurts more coming from those we thought were our allies.