Franken called resignation ‘ironic’, but he needed to focus on actions


Video Image from Al Franken Official Facebook

Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate in the coming weeks amidst multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Junior senator, Al Franken (D-MN), resigned this morning in front of the United States Senate amid sexual assault allegations from at least six different women in the past month. The allegations against Franken have been widely publicized, as have allegations against other select politicians and celebrities.

In his resignation speech Franken said, “I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks.”

It is true that many Minnesotans now see Franken differently from how they saw him before. However, the principal difference between a few weeks ago and now is that strong women stepped forward and spoke their truth. If the picture changed in the last few weeks and the words of women were the difference, then it can be confidently asserted that it was these women who constructed this “very different” view of him. A woman’s words should not be described as painting regardless of his intention; paintings can be redone and a woman’s words against her attacker should be seen as a statue that can’t be moved. A statue that says “I am here to stay.”

This isn’t meant to be an over-analysis of Al Franken’s words or a dismissal of common idioms, but a deeper look at how his words are still continuing to invalidate the experiences of his accusers.

While Franken did not completely defend his actions, he was unable to announce his resignation without talking about other prominent men like President Donald Trump and Roy Moore who have also been accused of sexual harassment. Finding men whose actions Franken deemed as worse than his own should mean nothing other than that Al Franken is not able to be fully accountable for his actions and cannot see himself as being “as bad” as them.

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.

Any sexual harassment is severe and if society allows for select instances to be seen as more serious than others then this cycle of women being harassed and silenced will be a never ending one.

While it is true that Franken himself has never been publicly recorded bragging about sexually harassing women or been said to illegally be involved with minors, he should have resigned without talking about other examples of sexual harassment. By calling out the men that have been accused of sexual harassment at a time when he is resigning because of similar claims, Franken is undermining the severity of his own actions and the words of the women. Any allegations of sexual harassment, regardless of scale, need to be taken seriously and there should be no irony about it. It’s not ironic that many men feel it is their inherent right to take advantage of woman’s body. It’s wrong.

The position of power that a man is in in this country should not be a factor in determining how serious their actions can be taken when it comes to sexual harassment. Any sexual harassment is severe and if society allows for select instances to be seen as more serious than others then this cycle of women being harassed and silenced will be a never-ending one. Al Franken was a popular comedy figure before his eight and a half years in the Senate. However, the fact that he was a comedian cannot justify his actions and allow for the excuse that he was just joking, or that he didn’t actually mean to put his hands on Leanne Tweedon to be accepted. A particular upbringing or prior professional experience may be a reason for Franken to think that his actions are excusable; however, the public should not take this as an acceptable excuse.

Al Franken has always claimed to be a true advocate for women, but by using irony in conjunction with sexual harassment claims, he again shows that he is a part of the problem. There is no irony in sexual harassment. We need to elect men that are champions for women both on the inside and the outside, and more importantly, elect women of all genders, religions, and races that have long waited to have their voices acknowledged as equally valuable to a man.