A woman that i can believe in

Added: Kamela Pelkey - Date: 16.05.2022 03:45 - Views: 39234 - Clicks: 3239

Imagine that a friend tells you they have been sexually assaulted. What do you do? Your first reaction would, I hope, be sympathy. You would not pepper them with questions: what were they wearing, what were they drinking, what were they thinking? Now imagine being a human-resources manager. In front of you is an employee making a claim of sexual harassment against a colleague. You might point them toward counseling resources, but also ask if there is evidence to back up their version of events.

A woman has just come to you alleging that she was sexually assaulted by a public figure. You ask about corroboration: letters, answering-machine messages, witnesses, s, photographs, dates, times. You look for the weaknesses in the story, the omissions, the contradictions. The mantra began as an attempt to redress the poor treatment of those who come forward over abuse, and the feminists who adopted it had good intentions, but its catchiness disguised its weakness: The phrase is too reductive, too essentialist, too open to misinterpretation.

Defending its precise meaning has taken up energy better spent talking about the structural changes that would make it obsolete, and it has become a stick with which to beat activists and politicians who care about the subject. The case of Tara Reade, who has accused the presidential candidate Joe Biden of sexual assault, demonstrates the problem.

Read: How uncertainty became a weapon in the Tara Reade story. In the two and a half years since the first wave of MeToo allegations, scores of famous and non-famous women and fewer men have come forward with experiences of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. There have also been edge cases, uncomfortable gray areasand men who have said their lives were ruined by nebulous allegations. False allegations do exist, but they are extremely uncommon.

Men are more likely to be raped than falsely accused of rape. When thousands of women tell us that there is a problem with sexual aggression in our society, we should believe them. That broad truth, however, tells us nothing about the merits of any individual case. Sloganeering is not my forte.

Possibly because it is almost precision-engineered to generate endless arguments about its meaning, and endless arguments are the fuel of the attention economy otherwise known as internet, newspaper, and television commentary. In a court of law, there are grades of offense, and sliding penalties.

In the court of public opinion, we talk about rape and a hand on the knee in the same breath.

A woman that i can believe in

Each new case tends to be read through other, typically unilluminating, reference points. It is hard to find an opinion about Reade that is not also one about Christine Blasey Ford, who publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape when he was nominated by Donald Trump to the United States Supreme Court. Kavanaugh denied the offense, and he was confirmed. But the cases are not the same, neither in their details nor how they came to light. Laura McGann at Vox writes that she was one of several mainstream journalists approached by Reade in April last year, and tried hard to corroborate her original allegation—that Biden touched her on the neck and shoulders in a way that made her uncomfortable—but failed.

Others did too. Reade later found a hearing among journalists and outlets that have been critical of Biden, and broadened her allegations to include sexual assault. These claims have now been conscripted into the case for ditching Biden as the Democratic nominee in favor of Bernie Sanders. One of the hardest MeToo arguments to make is that sometimes the role of journalists is not to publish, out of fairness to accused men as well as their accusers.

It is cruel to expose complainants to the searchlight of publicity when their allegations are flimsy, or to write stories in which inconsistencies are not confronted. Doing so is asking for the accuser to be disbelieved, and that experience can be re-traumatizing. It has made necessary skepticism look like hostility. Sources should know that reporters are only asking hard questions because everyone else will. Many interviewees, on any type of story, will offer a version of the past buffed up in numerous tiny ways to make them look better, unaware that they have done so.

The case of Senator Al Franken is a sorry tale of well-meaning people feeling the need to decry instantly rather than investigate fully. Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate: Expect her to take as much heat on the subject as he does, if not more.

Moira Donegan: What Tara Reade deserves. Why has MeToo become fixated on questions of belief? Because in too many cases, belief is all we have. The worldwide outpouring of traumatic experiences has not led to the structural changes needed to arbitrate claims in anything close to an objective fashion. Instead, in the U. Here was a woman who tried to do everything right. And then, faced with a Republican artillery barrage, she took refuge in the only place she could, relying on Democrats to champion her cause in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

There was never a neutral forum in which her story could be heard. In its needless, provocative overstatement, it derails the MeToo conversation, and prevents it from moving to the question of how to change structures. If belief is fairy dust, we can simply sprinkle that on women and not worry about the institutions that are letting them down. HR departments too commonly exist to protect companiesnot their employees. Serial predators go uncaught because untested rape kits lie piled up in warehouses.

A woman that i can believe in

It is impossible for women to expect justice from a system such as this. Her recommendations included a confidential helplineand an independent complaints procedure.

A woman that i can believe in

This is a promising start: From famous actors to cleaners on short-term contracts, from political staffers to delivery drivers managed by an app, the world of work is more and more fragmented and casual, and new channels for complaints must be created. For criminal allegations to be pursued thoroughly, police forces need to look like the communities they represent, and they need to prosecute sexual offences with sensitivity and rigor.

Yes, believe that sexual harassment and assault are far more widespread than we have ever been willing to acknowledge. Believe your friends when they are asking for nothing more than your support.

A woman that i can believe in

We should not be expected to believe women. We should instead be able to believe in the system. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe.

A woman that i can believe in

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