America's sexual assault reckoning is no time to become a partisan hack

America's sexual assault reckoning is no time to become a partisan hack
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In the recent tidal wave of sexual assault allegations, Democratic Senator Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAcademy president accused of sexual harassment: report Top Nike executive resigns amid workplace complaints: report Met opera fires conductor after sexual misconduct probe MORE of Minnesota was one of the latest to be exposed. Los Angeles based newscaster and model Leeann Tweeden shared her experience on the 2006 USO tour that brought together a variety of models, comedians, musicians and more to entertain American troops overseas.

In an open letter this past Thursday, Tweeden alleges that Sen. Franken forcibly kissed her and posed in a gut-churning photo in which he appears to grab Tweeden’s breasts while she was asleep. As if sexual assault wasn’t despicable enough, the response to Tweeden’s story adds insult to injury.

Feminist author Kate Harding made a perplexing argument in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post arguing that despite Franken admitting to the crude photo (yet denying the kiss), she does not think Franken should resign. Why? Because having a Democratic senator who has sexually assaulted women is better than having a Republican in office.

Harding continues for more than 1,300 words in what can only be described as thinly veiled hypocrisy — the antithesis of feminism. Perhaps the most incendiary line of Harding’s article is when she makes her case for Sen. Franken to not resign because “only one woman has alleged that Franken assaulted her.”

“If her story emboldens others to tell theirs, and the senator is revealed to be a serial predator, then I wouldn’t want him in a position of power for one more minute,” writes Harding. Apparently, one woman being violated was not enough. But now that a second woman, Lindsay Menz, has come forward alleging the Senator groped her as well, will liberal feminists like Harding truly practice what they preach and call for Franken’s resignation?

Harding attempts to add legitimacy to her argument by brandishing the title of “feminist.” That is something that the two of us have in common. The difference is that I happen to be a Republican and I have a zero-tolerance policy for men who stick their hands, tongues, or any other body parts wherever they please without consent.

It’s revolting, inexcusable behavior that cannot simply be forgiven with a public statement or an ethics investigation, which is exactly the response that came from Sen. Franken’s office. It’s a slick PR move, but will any semblance of justice come to fruition? What good will an ethics investigation do if Sen. Franken as already admitted some wrongdoing and yet he has no intention to resign?

While Sen. Franken alone is to blame for his actions, yet another sexual assault scandal begs the question: Has society deemed this behavior acceptable, or at the very least forgiven it too easily?

Bill Cosby, Anthony Weiner, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Tim MurphyTim MurphySamantha Bee: Dems smell ‘blood in the water’ after Pa. election New York Times calls Pa. House race for Dem Conor Lamb An upset, yes, but a short victory lap for Democrat Lamb in Pennsylvania MORE, Mark Halperin, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Roy Moore, and countless others including the president of the United States himself — all of these men have faced sexual harassment or assault allegations. Some of the allegations have been career ending, some haven’t stopped voters elevating the individual to the highest office in the land.

As I sat down in my local coffee shop and attempted to better articulate my thoughts, I found myself having to get up and take a breather more than once. Headline after headline, allegation after allegation, women across the country, including myself, are being forced to relive some of their worst nightmares each day as sexual assault is continually normalized. I felt angry, furious even. I felt sad, embarrassed, frustrated, helpless, betrayed, and alone. I knew as soon as this column went live, the first question in the comment section would be, “but what about Trump?”

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about October 7, 2016. Trump had already secured the GOP nomination. As a Never Trumper, I was disgruntled, but I would survive. I already knew that I would be writing in a candidate on election day, and as a registered Republican living in D.C., showing up to the polls was more a symbolic gesture than anything else. When the Access Hollywood tapes were released, I felt a lump in my throat, my limbs go limp, and the room around me go silent. I couldn’t breathe or speak.

To this day, no legislative victory, no photo op, no symbolic panel celebrating women will let me forget that the Republican party watched as we let Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Anti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight MORE walk into the Oval Office.

But now is not the time for partisan bickering. It’s not the time to compare Al Franken to Roy Moore, or Donald Trump to Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonKentucky candidate takes heat for tweeting he'd like to use congressman for target practice Will Sessions let other 'McCabes' off the hook or restore faith in justice? Progressive group launches anti-Trump 'We the Constitution' campaign MORE. It’s certainly not the time to exploit the stories of women who were brave enough to finally share their experiences of assault in an attempt to pick up a seat in 2018. It’s time to shut up and listen. To take these accounts seriously. To believe all women, not just when it’s politically advantageous.

Democrats and Republicans alike are doing a disservice to victims of sexual assault by trying to score cheap political points. It’s time to stop politicizing sexual assault.

Taylor McCarty is a communications strategist in Washington, D.C.