Sexual Misconduct is a Bipartisan Problem

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken

CN: Sexual Assault/Harassment/Misconduct

Despite our currently polarized nation, recent news has taught us that the Left and the Right have one thing in common: neither is immune to sexual misconduct. On the Right, there’s Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore who, despite his facade of being a pure and holy fundamentalist Christian, has been accused by several women of being sexually aggressive towards them when he was in his 30s and they were just teenagers. As a proud member of the Secular Left, it’s easy for me to laugh at the hypocrisy of Moore’s holier-than-thou attitude and the number of Republicans who would still vote for him simply because he’s not a pro-choice Democrat. It’s easy to make fun of Moore’s attorney Trenton Garmon’s disastrous interview on MSNBC, along with the fact that he looks like Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when he reveals he’s a cartoon. Yet even a hardcore liberal like me has to face the fact that even the Left is not immune to sexual misconduct.

Last week radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden revealed that Sen. Al Franken kissed and groped her without her consent during a 2006 USO Tour. Franken has since publicly apologized, and Tweeden forgave him. Besides issuing a public apology, he also called for an ethics investigation of his past behavior to hold himself accountable. In the days following, many on the Left are debating whether or not Franken should resign. Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic says yes, while New York Daily News’ Jonathan Zimmerman argues that, while Franken was wrong, he’s not a predator like Moore. My friend Sydney offered a similar argument on my Facebook wall the other day, but now she’s having second guesses with the news that another woman is claiming Franken groped her.

Yesterday morning, CNN broke the news that Franken allegedly grabbed Lindsay Menz’s butt during a photo op in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair. The senator claims he doesn’t remember the event taking place since he’s taken pictures with so many people, but added, “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.” Things aren’t looking well for Franken, but he’s not the first Democrat to face sexual misconduct allegations.

For starters, this past September former Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner received a 21 month federal prison sentenced for sexting with a 15 year old girl. Likewise, Newsweek recently listed several politicians who are currently facing sexual misconduct allegations, including Democrats Stephen Bittel of Florida, Sen. Dan Schoen, and Tony Mendoza and Raul Bocanegra of California. And then there’s former US President Bill Clinton, who has been accused by four women of sexual harassment and/or assault. This isn’t, of course, meant to downplay the accusations against Moore and President Trump, but only to say that when it comes to sexual misconduct, no political party is innocent.

As of now, it’s still too early to know if these accusations will have any effect on either Franken’s political career or the 2018 election. One thing is for sure, though, and that’s sexism respects no political affiliation. Despite what many Red Pillers say, these allegations show that patriarchy still flows through America’s veins, and that women are still seen as sex objects to men. Only by addressing this problem can we make real achievement.

The Biskeptical Podcast #35: #MeToo and President Pence

CN: Sexual harassment and assault

For the first part of today’s episode, we talk about Harvey Weinstein, the hashtags #MeToo and #IHave, and rape culture. It’s a pretty heavy and uncomfortable conversation about sexual assault and harassment just to warn you all, but a much needed conversation none-the-less. In the second half, we talk about the recent New Yorker article about Mike Pence, and why maybe having him as president might be worse than Trump.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #35: #MeToo and President Pence” on Spreaker.

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#IHave: Confessions of a Former Sensitive Nice Guy — My Latest for Splice Today

Post-Harvey Weinstein, assault and harassment survivors are talking about their own experiences on social media using the hashtag #MeToo. As a result, many men are holding themselves accountable for harassing and assaulting others using the #IHave hashtag. It’s a great way for men to hold themselves accountable for contributing to the problem, and I confess that even though I’m not a cis man, I, too, have a past. I was never an MRA who thought feminism was a cancer, nor was I a sexual predator. I was worse than that. The MRAs and sexual predators are easy to spot, but there’s another kind of dangerous man whose underlying misogyny and sexism are hard to see until the damage is done: the Sensitive Nice Guy.

Not all men who are genuinely nice and sensitive are bad. When I say Sensitive Nice Guy, I’m specifically referring to guys like Luke Howard, the British musician who thought playing his piano in a park to win back his ex-girlfriend was a good idea. Some may see this as a romantic gesture, but in reality it’s just creepy. He was guilt-tripping his ex into loving him again without a single consideration for her own autonomy. It was all about him and his emotions, and I was that guy at one point.

As an autistic person, my life’s been a never-ending struggle to figure out how to relate to others. In my quest to learn how to interact with people, I picked up a lot of bad ideas without realizing it until much later. One was that since toxic masculinity was bad; the acceptable alternative was to be the brooding, emotional guy (this was before I realized I was trans) waiting for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to save me from my misery a la the movie Garden State. Women’s sole purpose in society was to fulfill my life and be my therapists.

At best, I was annoying, but at worse, I was a creep.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #118: Agnosticism, Disability, and Bisexuality with Denarii Monroe

My guest for today is Denarii Monroe. She’s a freelance writer, poet, speaker, and singer based in New York who has written for Everyday Feminism, Ravishly, Wear Your Voice, and Black Girl Dangerous, among other publications. She writes about bisexuality, race, disability, fatphobia, and how they all intersect. So today we’re going to get to know Denarii and her story.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #118: Agnosticism, Disability, and Bisexuality with Denarii Monroe” on Spreaker.

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When “Free Speech” Silences Marginalized Voices – My Latest Ravishly Article

Contrary to popular belief among certain YouTubers, I’m a social justice warrior who actually loves free speech. In fact, the main reason I write is to use my free speech rights to challenge people’s preconceived notions about gender and sexuality and create conversations about complex social justice issues. One of my favorite philosophers, John Stuart Mill, summarizes it best in his 1859 classic essay On Liberty:

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation, those who dissent from the opinion still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Of course this opens up a wide variety of questions regarding free speech in the 21st century: Is it censorship when a private organization disinvites a controversial speaker? Would racist slogans like “Blood and soil” be considered hate speech that directly leads to violence? Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to answer all these questions right now. I do, however, want to point out a disturbing trend I see:

Those who advocate for free speech the most vocally tend to be silent when marginalized people are censored.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #33: Everything is Terrible

Today’s episode is a round-up of current news stories, including the DACA repeal, transphobic parents, Hurricane Irma, and Ted Cruz’s…special tastes. We also explain why playing piano in a public park is pathetic, why white Christians are getting angry, why the recent DOJ decision is just business as usual, and why it’s not a good idea to threaten Hillary Clinton when you’re already convicted for fraud.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #33: Everything is Terrible” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #113: “Divisiveness” in the Atheist Movement with Stephanie Zvan

My guest for today is Stephanie Zvan. She’s a blogger whose blog, Almost Diamonds, can be found on The Orbit. She’s also one of the organizers for Minnesota Atheists, and one of the hosts of the Atheist Talk radio show. Today we’re going to talk about a recent blog post she wrote about “divisiveness” in the atheist movement.

The post was written in response to Dogma Debate host David Smalley’s recent talk at this year’s Gateway to Reason conference. As I tell Stephanie in the interview, at first I thought he did a good job talking about how not to let different opinions divide the movement. But as Stephanie explained, when people in the atheist movement talk about divisiveness, they’re not talking about the “Everyone I don’t like is Hitler” meme.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #113: “Divisiveness” in the Atheist Movement with Stephanie Zvan” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #111: Feminism, Sexuality, and Humanism with Greta Christina

My guest for today is writer and activist Greta Christina. She’s the author of several books including “Why are You Atheists So Angry?”, “Coming Out Atheist,” “Comforting Thoughts about Death that Have Nothing to Do with God,” and “The Way of the Heathen.” She’s also a blogger who currently blogs at The Orbit. Today we’re going to talk about her writing, feminism, and humanist sexual ethics.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #111: Feminism, Sexuality, and Humanism with Greta Christina” on Spreaker.
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Bi Any Means Podcast #107: Laci Green, Toxic Leftists, and Egotistical Podcasters (Random Thoughts)

Due to the lack of a guest this week, I just turned on the recorder and talked about a few things on my mind for about 22 minutes. Hopefully it’s not too boring.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #107: Laci Green, Toxic Leftists, and Egotistical Podcasters (Random Thoughts)” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti

My guest for today is Rajani Gudlavalleti, racial equity trainer and board member of the Foundation Beyond Belief. Here’s what her bio says: “Rajani Gudlavalleti is a second-generation, South Indian-American queer humanist woman residing in Baltimore, MD. Rajani works at the intersections of social justice, public health, and the legal system, providing contract and consulting services as an organizer, evaluator, trainer and writer. Currently, she is a community organizer for the BRIDGES Coalition for safe drug consumption spaces in Baltimore City, and a facilitator with Baltimore Racial Justice Action. Rajani co-founded Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity in February 2015, and explores her multiple intersecting identities on her website, charmingly-hyphenated.com.

In March 2016, Rajani joined the board of Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) bringing with her over a decade of experience in social justice work. FBB provides humanists opportunities to engage in service work, such as volunteerism and giving, and advocates for compassionate secular action throughout the world.” So today we’re going to get to know Rajani and all the stuff she’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #105: Race, Harm Reduction, and Humanism with Rajani Gudlavalleti” on Spreaker.

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