OP-ED | The Men We Can Take Down, and the Men We Can’t
The President of the United States, who once famously admitted sexually harassing and groping women on a hot mic, is defending a Republican senate candidate who once got banned from a mall for creeping on teen girls. There was a time when that would have been the end of both of them. Here, though, it’s just another day.
The nauseating sexual abuses of powerful men are having a moment in the sun. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, and even Al Franken, for God’s sake, are either down, falling, or teetering precariously on the edge thanks to women finally coming forward and revealing the things that these sorts of guys always thought they’d get away with.
In the past year, something changed. It reminds me of the moment in 2015 when the Confederate flag suddenly went, in the eyes of a lot of clueless white people anyway, from being an annoying but harmless symbol of rednecks to being straight up the flag of the KKK and the committed racists. It took the blood of innocent black churchgoers in Charleston for all these so-called decent people to finally have had enough of that flag. Down it came from the statehouse, from the monuments, and from the truck windows of all those white boys in the high school parking lot.
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If only those people had been so filled with that righteous anger 30 years ago.
And now the same thing is happening with the men who think they can do anything to women and get away with it. Why now? Maybe it was that Harvey Weinstein was so bad, that his abuses were so heinous, that it shook people enough to make them really see these powerful men for what they were.
Then again, maybe it was an entire year of having a disgusting abuser who bragged about grabbing women and “accidentally” walked in on Miss Teen Universe contestants in the changing room in the White House.
Maybe it was that women’s voices are finally loud enough for men to hear.
Whatever the cause, something changed. Suddenly, all the so-called decent people who had only sighed and shook their heads in the past were ready to stand and draw a line. This far. No further. No more. Enough.
Where have these people been? Where were they when brave women spoke up about rape culture on the campus of the University of Connecticut, for instance, or when women accused high-profile sports stars like Kobe Bryant, or when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas?
Why now? Why not decades ago?
I guess that’s how this country works. We sit and stagnate for eternity, fingers firmly in our ears and eyes shut, until suddenly we wake up and lurch forward.
It’s something. But what’s killing me is that Roy Moore, the religious zealot and nationalist extremist running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, is still afloat. Here’s a man who allegedly went into stores to leer at teenage girls, who, according to at least one woman, tried to kiss and grope her when she was a teen, and who admits he first “noticed” his wife when she was in her own teens.
He’s a Republican in a deep red state, though, and the Senate’s fairly close, so the usual people are making excuses for him: The women are liars. It’s a conspiracy by the liberal media! It was a long time ago. And Moore said he didn’t do it, so, obviously, it’s all good ... That’s what our slimeball of a president would have us believe, anyway.
Worse, a garbage bag masquerading as a pastor named Flip Benham said that Moore only liked teens because they were “pure.”
So Moore is still either leading or tied in many of the polls. He could actually be elected. And if he is, Republican voters think Moore should be allowed to serve in the Senate, 49-33 percent. Sometimes allegations like these kill careers, as well they should. But sometimes they just bounce off.
There are some men who seem impossible to drag down, despite the weight of all their sins. Last year this country failed a test of our decency and our morality. This year, Alabama may underline that awful failure with one of its own.
Why do some men fall while others don’t? I wish I knew.
But I’m holding on to the notion that, someday, it’ll all catch up with them.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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