Power and the issue of sexual assault

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Jeff Turner

There have been a lot of disappointing reveals in the firestorm of Hollywood sexual harassment scandals. A serious talent will be revealed to be despicable, and their fans must make a personal choice. Many stop watching their films, some can manage. There’s no wrong answer. It, of course, has begun to bleed back into politics with allegations spurting out between both sides. It’s awful behavior that hurts many. What’s the appeal?

Many of the people being outed have turned to biology as an excuse. Harvey Weinstein is the most notable example of this, leaning on sex addiction and promising therapy as an effort to win back sympathy. His brother later said that there was no evidence he’d gone to therapy, and the idea of sex addiction is hotly disputed by psychiatrists. The effort is confusing, that’s certain. Weinstein sounds like a kid trying to skip detention. He wants to dodge the consequences of his decision making any way possible. Ergo, the problem would be more developmental than biological. A man like Weinstein has, in many ways, not matured past his adolescent and young adulthood years.

That’s one angle. Self-esteem is another, fueled partially by media influence. Men grow up with the general narrative that “if you’re unable to sleep with many women, you’re limp in some way.” Some dismiss it and others buy into it, letting it become an influence on their well-being. Once they have influence, it’s hard to be content with it. Bill Cosby couldn’t have a steady marriage and a massively successful TV show, he needed to be able to have any woman he wanted. He had a weapon for making that happen, and even if he never goes to jail, people know that now.

Studies have shown that power is a drug comparable to cocaine. Once it’s obtained, it’s difficult to be content. This can be seen in the continued silencing of accusers (like Weinstein keeping a secret list), but also in refusals to relinquish political offices. President Donald Trump and Roy Moore are valid examples of this, but none are more ridiculous than what’s going on with Al Franken right now.

Polls have been taken recently in Minnesota, with over half of the people polled wanting Franken to resign. His popularity is falling apart, and while he is not up for re-election in the coming midterms, fellow Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is. While she has won her previous races by considerable margins, if she spends her race defending Franken, whose popularity in Minnesota is slowly but steadily nosediving, her opponent may close the gap which means an already difficult midterm election gets a little harder.

It’s petty and selfish for Franken to stay on; so why does he? He must know. The reason is the same as the reasoning that got him in trouble in the first place. His position offers power, and with power comes the feeling that consequences will never rear their head.

This is a mess of a scandal, and the opening of a callus. A man named Ben Parker once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The responsibility has grown larger. Many of these famous people will either understand what their problem is before they do more damage, or they’ll continue to not care and inevitably go down in flames. To be put in a position where a person needs to figure out why they cannot properly manage their sexual needs is both uncomfortable and unenviable. It’s also necessary and will hopefully go somewhere.