Jill Abramson writes on The Guardian that Sen. Al Franken could provide the answer to the question, “have we reached zero tolerance for sexual harassment?”
She writes as if it’s a bad thing if the answer is “yes”, by comparing Franken’s sexual misconduct with that of, say, Harvey Weinstein.
She says she’s concerned by the calls for Franken to resign:
The historical arc from Anita Hill to now covers a generation. When Hill made her allegations of sexual harassment during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation, sexual harassment was not a familiar term, certainly not in the Senate.
Back then it was progressive Democrats like Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden who failed to protect Hill from having her credibility savaged by the then all-male Senate Judiciary Committee.
Before Hill, it was common for victims to be blamed and shamed. After Hill, inspired by her courage, thousands of women were emboldened to file sexual harassment complaints. More women, but still not nearly enough, were elected to the Senate.
Now we have entered another period: After Harvey. In the new era, Al Franken may be booted from the Senate and Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct is being reconsidered and denounced anew by women who fought against his impeachment in 1998. After all, he, too has been accused of rape.
If the era of zero tolerance brings positive change, as Hill’s testimony did, I’m all for it. I worry, however, that it may cost women rather than benefit them. And I wish it didn’t come at a point where Republicans, some of whom are guilty of harassment themselves, are so firmly ensconced in power.
Abramson, a Guardian columnist, says a Frankenless Congress could return us to the days before Anita Hill.
This, of course, assumes that there are no people who fight for women who are not guilty of sexual misconduct.