Image courtesy of Kathryn O’Connor, unothegateway.com.
When Christine Blasey Ford first came out with her sexual assault allegation against then Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, it looked like an oppurtune moment for this new women’s movement to receive political representation.
With the Republican Party and their allies in the media’s open denial and slander of Ford, and defence of Kavanaugh at all costs, it would seem that the Democrats had de facto picked up the torch of#MeToo. The Democrats were committed to creating safe environments for women to speak of their harassment by powerful men; they sided with women when they made allegations, as symbolized in their #webelievesurvivors and #believeallwomen hashtags, and they were going to make it absolutely clear that no man who abuses women will ever find promotion in the ranks of the Democrats, period.
An early criticism by the Republicans of the #MeToo movement was that it was entirely political, that Democrats didn’t really believe women, or wanted to fight for them, but that they were just weaponizing sexual assault allegations in order to sink conservatives. However, even after Kavanaugh was confirmed to the SCOTUS Democrats assuaged any fears of politicization by continuing to affirm their commitment to believing survivors of sexual assault.
Until now. It was always a bit difficult for me to believe Democrats were committed to #MeToo considering their nonplussed attitude towards former Democrat President Bill Clinton’s heap of sexual misconduct allegations, but the excuse that it was a different era could always be levied, unconvincingly so. Nothing could prepare me, though, for how quickly Democrats changed their tune on believing women the instant an allegation was made against one of their own.
It was when Tara Reade came forward in Late March of 2020 with a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden that the Democrats’ bluff was called. Knowing how committed the Democrats were to #MeToo, you would expect to see denunciations of Biden, but instead what we got was behavior that was indistinguishable from the Republicans in 2018.
Blaming the woman, ravenous hunting for any possible inconsistencies, whataboutisms, character assassinations, death threats, calls to silence anyone even discussing the allegations, as with Chris Hayes of MSNBC, defences of Joe Biden…
The letters R and D may have been different, but the tactics were the same.
The specific examples of Democrats flipping is equally pathetic, and endless. Here’s what Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted about Ford on September 23rd, 2018:
“After the courageous and compelling testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford yesterday, it is shameful that Kavanaugh’s nomination is being rushed forward. I believe women, and I believe survivors of violence always deserve to be supported and to have their voices heard.”
Now here’s her on CNN on April 29th, 2020:
“I believe that women deserve to be heard and I believe they need to be listened to, but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources. The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden.”
I believe Joe Biden. It doesn’t get clearer than that.
(Side Note: Notice the shifting of the goal posts that Abrams is doing here. Since the position of “Believe All Women” is now untenable [because they cannot possibly believe Tara Reade,] they must now change the facts to fit their predetermined conclusion, and are now retreating to the less absolutist position that “All Women must be listened to, not believed.” If you look closely, you will see many other Democrats doing a similar retreat.)
It’s not just Abrams who flipped on a dime. The Time’sUp Legal Defense Fund, which helps women in legal matters regarding sexual assault allegations, declined to provide funding for Tara Reade’s legal and PR fees in her case against Joe Biden, citing fears it would lose its nonprofit status, a move which Reade said made her feel “betrayed.” In other news, TimesUp publicly called for a national walkout over the mistreatment of Christine Blasey Ford, and tweeted “We believe Christine Blasey Ford,” even though no such tweet exists for Tara Reade.
Although, perhaps it’s silly of me to think that #MeToo was never a partisan organization. Looking up donors on OpenSecrets.org, you will find that 25 out of 98 of #Time’sUp’s governing members have personally donated to Joe Biden, a number that swells to 72 if you count donations to any Democrat. In contrast, only 3 members have ever donated to Republicans.
So. How can Democrats resolve this dilemma? How can they claim to believe all women, while denying allegations against the candidates they support?
Well, they have three options. One, they can roll back “Believe All Women.” Just stop saying you believe all women, stop saying all claims must be investigated. It’ll be a huge blow to the feminist movement, but next time the skeletons decide to come out of a candidate’s closet, Democrats will be just fine.
Two, they can ditch the candidates with allegations. However, for Biden, this is already a bit too late, as he has… well… just been elected President. So, this leaves the third option, the option I followed, and that many others did, without admitting so.
I believe Tara Reade. And yet, I (Gasp!) voted for Biden. In fact, I briefly volunteered for him. Why? Because I’m an adult, and what adults do is make a cold, cynical calculation each election, balancing the evils and merits of each candidate, and making a difficult decision from there on who is less evil. Biden may have a sexual assault allegation, but Trump has several. Therefore, Biden is better.
You can argue that both are evil, and that we cannot support any evil, no matter how slight. I agree. However, in reality, we must make nihilistic decisions, and if we were to abstain from voting from any candidates unless they were 100% pure, then we wouldn’t get to vote in any elections.
So while it is not too late for Democrats to change their tactics and buttress their commitment towards women, as it stands #MeToo has lost much of its political legitimacy. Republicans from the jump don’t even believe in equality between the sexes, and now Democrats have revealed their hand, showing that their support for #MeToo is less of a principle than it is a sword to be unsheathed against Republicans.
The Tara Reade affair has also been a blow to Democrat media. Take notes, Democrats; when Republicans say they distrust the media, they see the praise heaped upon Ford, and the smears heaped upon Reade; they see the press firing into full gear when Ford goes public, but whistles and glances the other way when Reade comes forward, only addressing it when it is absolutely necessary, then giving it no mention afterwards.
There are too many examples of bias regarding these two allegations for me to write here. As a sample, I would simply advise you to look up what Michelle Goldberg and Jennifer Rubin of The New York Times and The Washington Post, respectively have written about Christine Blasey Ford and Tara Reade, and see the difference. To give an example, I will focus on The New York Times, who released an investigation discrediting the Tara Reade allegations. They are not so subtle in what they want you to believe:
“Ms. Reade, a former Senate aide, has accused Mr. Biden of assaulting her in 1993 and says she told others about it. A Biden spokeswoman said the allegation is false, and former Senate office staff members do not recall such an incident.”
Here we have an in-theory respectable newspaper organization slandering and dismissing a sexual assault allegation by a woman who came forward, which is despicable in my opinion. What is interesting to note, however, is that there is no comparative article titled “Investigating Christine Blasey Ford’s Sexual Assault Allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.” Apparently, Ford’s allegations are strong enough to stand uncontested, but Reade’s must be scrutinized via investigation.
Maybe the electricity went out right as they were publishing it, perhaps they just forgot to write such an article, maybe a dog ate their script, I don’t know, but what I suspect is more likely is that The New York Times follows selective enforcement, popularizing allegations against Republicans and discrediting the others. To say there is no bias here is ludicrous.
None of this is to attack Ford. I believe Ford, and she underwent hell from the phony “family values” Republicans, who are not absolved in any way in their role in killing this movement. But next time a woman comes forward against a Republican, expect Americans to toss such allegations in the trash. Why wouldn’t they, when the only nominal ally of the movement, and the media arm of that ally, has proven that they are not interested in good-faith discussion? Americans can simply point to the treatment of Tara Reade, and they would have merit in doing so.
Perhaps it was naive of me to think that women coming forward would no longer be a wedge issue in America. Nevertheless, #MeToo has sadly transformed from a legitimate movement bringing up difficult conversations, into a politicized club to be beat against the other side when convenient. But with both sides lacking the moral standing to wield such a weapon, it is a club that is increasingly feeling lighter and lighter with each swing, and the only one hurt when the dust settles is us, not just those of us who would like to see more equality between the sexes, but especially the women who want to make their voices heard.
There is much work to do.