Let’s start with a classic example:
We’re seeing a culture of harassment & assault being exposed on a daily basis. Whether you are in the media, politics, or anywhere else abuse of power is unacceptable & shouldn’t be tolerated at any place at any level. Sen. Franken must know that & that’s why he must step down.
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) December 6, 2017
Here’s the thing. I never called for Franken to step down. I believe there are degrees of bad behavior; that there is a difference between Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken, even though a lot of people pretend that #MeToo isn’t composed of shades of gray. Easier to make an argument that way, I guess. Pretending #MeToo is always about complete destruction of the accused is as lazy and dishonest as #NotAllMen.
What troubles me is how we pick sides; How we believe accusers of people we don’t like, but don’t believe accusers of people we do like. I also don’t like how accusations against someone are immediately countered with whataboutism – which is a desperate and obvious attempt to change the subject.<
Another favorite excuse is the innocent until proven guilty, and how that standard should apply in these situations. Funny, that standard doesn’t seem to apply to any other situation. If it did then editorial pages, blogs and comment sections would be nothing but blank spaces. Innocent until proven guilty is usually accompanied by the claim that women will start accusing innocent men for the hell of it. My eyes roll when someone puts forth this argument (the same way they roll with voter fraud), because, let’s face it, false accusations for sexual assault are in line with every other crime. Some studies say less due to under-reporting of sexual assault.
I swear, I would love to see a guy being questioned about a mugging asked, “Well, you were flashing that sexy Rolex, so what did you expect? Are you sure it was stolen? Maybe you gave him your watch and now regret it.”
The innocent until proven guilty defense (which we all did with Manafort, Bill Clinton, Mike Brown, Trump, riiight?) is simple deflection; a way to take a woman’s account and turn it into men’s concerns. It’s also not applied across the board, only in cases where we like the accused. You won’t hear this defense if the man accused is disliked (for his writing, politics, acting, comedy, etc.). We need to stop approaching these scenarios as a team sport.
I have my own #MeToo experiences. One was a relative, one a guy I went on a few dates with, and one was the guy who lived across the street from me – a guy every parent loved, a guy who could easily produce more that 65 signatures on a letter claiming his upstanding character.
I never told my parents about these assaults when they happened. (I did tell them when I was older.) I didn’t tell anyone but my best friend because I knew what would happen. I knew what these men did would morph into what I did. What was I wearing? Did I flirt with them? Lead them on? Know how I knew these questions were coming? Because I asked myself the same damn questions. Other than my family member, I liked these guys. I wanted to date them, and society tells women that liking/crushing on a guy is equivalent of “leading them on”.
Society also tells women we are responsible for policing men’s behavior; that men can’t help themselves when faced with temptation. That it’s biology. Think about that rationale for two seconds. If it’s true, then every man cheats on his partner. He can’t help himself. Vice President Pence actually admits it. He won’t share a meal in a public restaurant with a women or have an adult beverage unless his wife is present.
And then there’s this:
Others, like former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), a top Trump ally, insisted that Ford’s story wasn’t credible because of the timing of her decision to finally come forward. But, even if the accusations were true, Kingston added, it was of questionable significance.
“Let’s all step back and think about our own perfect behavior when we were in high school,” Kingston told The Daily Beast. “I think there have been enough people from both parties, although far more liberals than conservatives, who have received such allegations… Not many, however, have been accused of things that they may have done in high school—but something that was bottled up until now. Let’s face it, Democrats would do anything possible to derail a Trump nomination.”
Ah, the boys will be boys defense. Kingston is saying is that this behavior happens, is common. Yeah, women know this. His comment isn’t the least bit shocking. It is extremely insulting to men, however.
I shudder when I think about what’s heading Christine Blasey Ford’s way. It’s already started. My favorite, and one that’s entirely predictable, is the claim that she wants attention, publicity, etc.. Really? If you believe that then go ahead and name 5 of Bill Cosby’s accusers. No Googling allowed.