Just to Be Clear

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

There has been an enormous amount of "defense" of Al Franken that looks an awful lot like abuse apologia (because it is), and I don't have the energy to debunk each fetid thread, but I do want to say this: Al Franken admitted he posed for the photo we've all seen of his hands hovering on or over Leeann Tweeden's breasts, and I am amazed (not really) at how many people are okay with that photo.

She alleged much more than just what was captured in the photo, but, even if it were only the photo, the thing to which Franken has confessed and for which he's apologized, I am not okay with that.

I don't care if she's wearing a flak jacket and if he's not touching her and if if if all the other things that are supposed to mitigate the photo, even the claim that she was "in on it," because even if all those things were true, that's still a photo of a man who thinks that pretending to molest a sleeping woman is hilarious.

Jokes about sexual assault ("rape jokes") are not just a matter of taste. Irrespective of whether one finds them amusing, or tolerable, or whatever, and regardless of the intent of the people who make them, rape jokes serve a very particular purpose: Communicating to abusers that sexual assault is okay, and validating their belief that everyone commits abuse.

They are not neutral. They empower abusers.

So even if, as many of Franken's fervent defenders argue, it was just a "stupid photo," that "stupid photo" is still a big goddamned problem.

I don't trust any man who believes that rape jokes are funny. I can't.

It's not because I'm a "humorless feminist." It's because I have a zero tolerance policy on upholding the rape culture.

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