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Perspective: Raise The Bar On Sexual Assault

Mika Baumeister

Do you remember when Al Franken resigned from Congress? A photo came to light (distributed by the subject of that photo who disagreed with Franken politically), in which Franken, a sitting Congressman, is making a joking gesture about touching the body of a sleeping woman.  He’s not actually touching her, but his hands hover above her and it is clear from his smile that he and all those around him consider this a hilarious prank. When this photo surfaced and stories from a checkered past began to emerge, Al Franken was, let’s say, strongly encouraged to resign.

But in an era of Weinstein and Cosby and Woody Allen, was Franken really that bad?  In a world where we have Matt Gaetz potentially soliciting minors, sharing nude photos on the floor of the House of Representatives, and not even being smart enough to use a private Venmo account to pay for his crimes, should we really have asked Al Franken to resign over a joke??

Yes.  Of course, yes.  I’m all for holding the monsters and serial predators accountable for their actions.  But I also need the daily offenders to understand the pain they have caused.  The people who’ve made jokes or comment that left their coworkers feeling uncomfortable.  The partner that thought no meant “convince me.” The people who tell me to “learn to take a joke” and “don’t be so sensitive”. The bar has been placed in the basement. This April, for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I’d recommend we raise that bar until we create a world where everyone can feel safe and everyone can thrive.

I’m Lynnea Erickson Laskowski, and that’s my perspective.

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