Yes, You SHOULD Believe Women

You should not believe men who try to control our narratives

“The Jury” Norman Rockwell, 1959

Sexual harassment and rape culture are so entangled in American culture that you should just assume that every American woman you’ve met is a sexual assault survivor or has experienced sexual harassment. And to the question forming in your mind. Yes, that includes me.

The reason rape and sexual harassment are so prominent in our culture is to keep women under control and to keep communities of color also … under control. Rape or threat of rape may be utilised against any woman or child. Rape or threat of rape of female friends or family members is used to control men in some instances. (Although, I do also know multiple male victims.) And of course men can also use rape accusations to initiate a lynching.

And yeah, I didn’t stutter. MEN can and do use rape accusations to initiate a lynching.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that all women are blameless innocent flowers and/or paragons of virtue because, that would be absurd and it is its own form of dehumanizing sexism. Women can be and often are complicit in especially racially motivated false accusations. But the idea for it often starts with white men.

Guys, if you’ve never had to go through the hell of trying to get a school administration or human resources or the police to hear you on a report of rape then you might be surprised to hear this but it is a nightmare. For the victim. The rate of reports is low because women and girls usually get outright dismissed and there are basically always repercussions for the victim or even the victim’s friends. I had a friend who was attacked and I had to fight the school administration to stay enrolled because her attacker found out I knew. Women are not going to make a report unless they have a reasonable belief that they’ll be protected and believed. We’re certainly not going to make one up just ’cause. Seriously guys, I might have been expelled for knowledge of a sexual assault that had taken place. At that point I hadn’t done anything but drive my friend to a clinic.

Oh my god, burn the witch.

Pictured: A typical day for me.

Women do not make rape accusations frivolously and no reasonable woman is going to accuse someone falsely without a LOT of support. This is why when there *is* an actual false accusation it’s usually made by a white woman or her male family against a person of color.

In the case of the Central Park Five the victim in question had no memory of the attack and could neither accuse nor clear the boys who were rounded up despite having nothing to do with it. Stranger rape is pretty rare, rapists are usually known to their victims, but this is hardly the only case where a victim was callously used to inflict pain on some uninvolved individual.

Enter: Politics.

It’s been largely accepted that male politicians are absurdly promiscuous and regularly use sexual activity, assault, or behavior to intimidate others. Wikipedia’s got a whole article on scandals partitioned out by administration and I won’t say a majority of them are sex scandals, but many of them are. But it’s not just that people are sleeping around. That does not a scandal make. Unless you’re a woman. What these sex scandals usually entail is some added horribleness like using public funds to pay off a sexual harassment claim or pressuring your mistress into an abortion or condoning the molestation of children. In politics male politicians don’t usually get into trouble just because they used lewd language or touched a staffer inappropriately. They have to be caught not only having raped or harassed someone, but usually engaging in out and out corruption.

Unless they have an enemy who’s worse.

We all know Bill Clinton gets around. To be entirely honest I think he’s just magnetic and a bit of a flirt. There’s a very clear difference between a man-whore and a rapist and Clinton strikes me as the kind of guy who wouldn’t turn down sex if it were offered but also wouldn’t assault someone. Now, he’s married. He’s famously married. But his marriage is his and his wife’s responsibility. If he wants to safeguard that he probably shouldn’t flirt, but that’s none of my business. I think any spouse deserves loyalty if that’s what they signed up for, but infidelity is a private matter.

On the other hand Trump rapes people. There’s pretty reliable reports that he raped a child and there’s just about ironclad accusations that he’s raped multiple other women and groped numerous others. He raped his wife because his head hurt after getting hair plugs so he wanted to hurt someone. He raped a woman because she laughed at him. And apparently for the kid he raped he did it just because he wanted to have sex with a virgin instead of his friend. Trump is the classic rapist. He rapes to inflict pain, to intimidate, to gain power, and to assuage a bruised ego. I don’t believe that Trump understands the difference between sex and rape, but it should be fairly clear to everyone that Trump is a rapist.

And besides all the other reasons Trump shouldn’t have even been running for President, rapists shouldn’t be President. They just shouldn’t be. If they want to be philanderers … fine. I mean I can’t say I approve really, and I don’t know how they could find the time, but I do not care if JFK boinked Marilyn Monroe. They were both cute so … well done both of you … but I do have a great deal of sympathy for Jackie and so … not cool. But again: none of my business. As long as it was consensual I do not care.

But when Hillary ran her successful campaign against Trump — and yes, it was successful, she won, she just wasn’t seated — he tried to accuse her of being responsible for her husband’s various affairs and also implied that something something promiscuity is as bad as sexual violence. Again, I don’t think Trump understands the difference between sex and rape. But consensual sex regardless of where it happens in relation to the bonds of holy matrimony, is not a crime. Rape is. So Trump hauled forth a bunch of white women willing to be used as pawns in an attempt to sully Hillary Clinton’s reputation.

And do I believe that Bill Clinton actually harassed those women? No, not really. I’m sure he flirted and I’m sure some of them flirted back. It’s entirely possible there exists a woman out there who Bill Clinton made uncomfortable. And yeah he has more responsibility to behave himself due to the unequal power dynamic. But that’s just not the same as Trump raping people ’cause they hurt his pride. Also, Hillary Clinton is not her husband and it would be super weird if she could control his actions. Holding her accountable for her husband’s actions is absurd and stupid.

The GOP did during the MeToo Movement try to get women to falsely accuse various Democrats and in the case of Al Franken this kinda worked. I’m not personally shedding any tears over him because it’s just not funny to objectify women, but again, Franken was guilty of questionable behavior particularly given the power dynamic. He is not a rapist.

And so now we get to Joe Biden and Tara Reade’s absurd and unlikely accusations against him.

Joe Biden’s one of the good guys. I believe that Bill Clinton might have read the wrong cues a few times and I totally believe Franken did squeeze butts he shouldn’t have squeezed. I don’t believe for a second Biden ever tried anything at all with Reade. I just don’t. Part of that is because of who Biden is. That guy couldn’t have an affair if he was trapped in the Yankees locker room with Lola. But the other part of it is that Reade herself said he didn’t sexually assault her.

“You’re a very good dancer, young lady, but I’m going to miss my train.” (“Damn Yankees,” Warner Bros., 2958)

Reade was one of the several women who filed a complaint over how touchy Biden is. And he is touchy. He’s basically like if that super friendly collie your neighbor has was a grown man. But you don’t tell your neighbor the collie raped you, you just wash the muddy pawprints off your sweatshirt when you get home. Maybe encourage the neighbor to take the collie to doggie trainer school. Reade originally said she felt like a lamp. Not like a sex object, but just a lamp. Which, okay yeah, Biden shouldn’t be doing that, I jump out of my skin any time touches me so I can see how that would be annoying, but — as Reade said — it just isn’t sexual assault.

Reade only changed her story to one of sexual assault after Sanders lost the primary again and Bernie Bros wanted to excuse their campaign for Trump. And yes. It is as simple as that. Sanders did have some supporters who were truly progressive and bought into his populist rhetoric, but most of them have wised up. All that are left at this point are the super sexist super racist guys who would chop up voting rights in an instant if it meant their guy would win. Many of them admit that they are former libertarians or Republicans and all of them do not recognize the importance of democracy particularly where democracy allows minority individuals a voice.

Now, I thank god that Bernie Bros haven’t formed a lynch mob yet, but at the same time they’re sending out propaganda like this.

REALLY don’t want people to be making sexual assault “allocations.” Freudian slip much.

As a sexual assault survivor I rather hope Tara Reade’s “allocations,” AREN’T taken seriously. It’s people like her and the Bros that support her that made it so difficult for me to be taken seriously any time I experienced harassment or assault. (And the rest of this absurd letter is just far-right nonsense that I cannot even deal with right now.)

Reade’s actual allegation (note: not “allocation”) is that she was uncomfortable with how Biden hugs people/didn’t like being used as a booth model. Which, as I said before is perfectly fine. I get that. It’s not a sexual assault allegation, but if I had a boss who liked hugs I might say, “could you not, maybe?” And I have been occasionally asked to … you know … sex it up a bit and I’ve made my feelings known in those instances. Totally fine to feel that way, totally fine to ask him and expect him to stop.

But the Bros decided to write or have Reade write a crazy fiction about this in the hopes that they could sully Biden’s reputation. Even in this letter they all but admit that they’re doing this in order to help Donald Trump. These guys are fabricating a sexual assault allegation in order to preserve power for a bigot. You don’t get much more white supremacist than that.

The new allegation contains a number of details relevant to the fictional assault that are extremely unlikely to have happened. For one, Biden was known for taking the train to and from Washington like clockwork. Without an evening function, he would not have been in the Senate building. He certainly wouldn’t have been lying in wait for Tara and his gym bag. (Reade also mysteriously cannot remember exactly what day it was and this is likely by design as Senator’s schedules and records are kept. If she named a date and time it’s likely Biden would have an ironclad alibi.) Secondly, the allegation suggests that he digitally penetrated her and asked her on a date. Rapists are super weird and often don’t understand the difference between sex and sexual violence so I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen, but even for a rapist that would be a weird thing to do. Rapists usually do the violent thing and move on. So violent forced digital penetration plus a request for dating doesn’t really follow. Rape is not about sexual desire or romance, it’s about power, so … yeah this doesn’t make sense.

Thirdly though, even Tara had to say she had for some reason decided not to wear pantyhose. That is not a thing you do. That is not a thing you do now and it certainly wasn’t when she said the assault occurred. She did not just roll up without pantyhose. At present if you do that in a place like the Senate building you’ll get some serious side-eye but at the time when this supposedly occurred it would be like if a guy showed up in a button down shirt, tie, blazer, gartered socks, oxfords and NO PANTS. I don’t honestly believe she’d be let in the building like that. Hell, the Pentagon had as recently as about 2012 in various offices a rack of men’s and women’s clothes in case you got called over to another building where you might not fit the dress code.

Pictured: Too laissez faire for the Senate. (“the Devil Wears Prada,” Fox 2000 Pictures, 2006)

Now, I can just hear the Bros trying to accuse me of slut-shaming and … no. That’s not what I’m doing. What I’m saying is you cannot enter certain buildings in the Capitol without being “appropriately,” attired. You cannot do it. If you try, you will be turned away. What a victim of sexual assault is wearing or not is irrelevant, but what Tara Reade says she wasn’t wearing in order to make an assault possible would have also barred her from the place where she says the assault happened. Her pantyhose are in a state of uncertainty. She was wearing Schrödinger’s pantyhose.

But okay, let’s ignore the practical unlikelihood that this could have happened and instead look at people’s behavior and careers after it supposedly took place. And I say this because it’s not uncommon 1. for rapists to continue raping and 2. for rape victims to keep their silence but also distance themselves from their attackers and try to avoid the subject, not just of the attack, but of the guy who did it.

This attack supposedly happened in 1993. Reade currently says she was shortly thereafter asked to find another job, but Biden’s staff says she never came to them with an allegation of this type. Reade spoke routinely and glowingly of Biden after the supposed attack and at the time said she left her Washington job for other opportunities. Currently there is only one person who hasn’t changed their story and is willing to say that Reade’s allegation was not just about Biden touching her neck and shoulders.

Now, Reade’s character isn’t really indicative of whether or not we should believe her, but it does indicate what sort of things she tends to get up to. (I’m not really qualified to get into whether or not her story passes the smell test, but someone who is has written an article asserting that … no, she’s probably lying.) Between 1993 and now Reade has gotten herself tied up in all sorts of nonsense. She she allegedly defrauded a horse sanctuary, is presently threatening them with legal action on twitter for sharing documentation of when she defrauded them, and may or may not have written a pro-Putin fiction. (For the record, no, I do not find Putin attractive with or without his shirt. He’s gross, and he’s dumb. But Reade evidently has/had a massive crush on him.)

None of this means she’s definitely lying or couldn’t have been a victim of sexual assault at all, but it does mean she’s absolutely willing to bend and break the truth to her advantage. If Biden had assaulted her in the way she’s now claiming she is the sort of person who would have tried to get money for it. And if I thought she had actually been assaulted I would be entirely on her side. If all you can get from your attacker is money then bleed him dry. But while she was willing to steal from a horse charity that helped her stable a horse of her own, she wasn’t willing to sue Biden. So, that’s weird.

But okay, let’s talk about Biden. In 2008 Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden to be his running mate. It is arguably harder to become Vice President than it is to become President because you have to not only be reasonably attractive to the electorate, but also a well known contributor to the Party, and also have basically no blemishes on your record. To become President you need basically the same, but the primary season will eliminate individuals with issues voters find insurmountable. So selecting a VP has to be an arduous and thorough process with a lot of vetting. Additionally, Obama was very cognisant that in becoming the first black person to win the nomination for President he had defeated the woman who would have been the first woman to win the nomination for President. He was already taking risks by not naming Clinton to the VP spot and under pressure from a lot of women who were somewhat reasonably annoyed. Had he chosen a guy with any credible allegations of assault against him it would have been a slap in the face to American women.

Remember how we reacted when Trump was elected over Hillary? We rioted. Obama is black. If he was even tangentially associated with anything that might be sexual assault … well …

Yes, I am a massive Mozart stan. Yes, I’m being a jerk on purpose. Verdi’s would have been more musically appropriate.

Now, the standard argument Bros will use against this is that Obama didn’t care about Biden’s supposed sexual assault because that was before the MeToo movement. But only white supremacists talk like that. So if that’s your argument, go buy yourself a white hood. No, I said what I said. Obama was a great President, and honestly I’m tired of explaining that to white men who insist they discovered progressivism like Columbus discovered the Americas. Obama’s a family man and always has been. Even if he thought he could get away with it politically — and he couldn’t, MeToo would have happened eight years earlier if any of this were true — he wouldn’t have tolerated a rapist in his presence. Obama’s a decent man and it’s pretty typical that Bernie Bros are sullying his name yet again, but being the first black President meant he absolutely could not afford a VP with any blemishes at all.

Biden’s not a rapist.

But okay let’s look at a few other things. I have repeatedly said rapists never have only one victim. Ever. Even the first person they actually rape is not their first victim. They will continue to push the boundaries until they are jailed or killed. And even in when in prison they typically continue. So, if Biden had assaulted Reade there would be other victims with similar stories of sexual assault or harassment. There are not. There are a few women who say they don’t like that he’s touchy, but Reade is the only person who has ever characterized it as sexual harassment and it appears she did so twenty-seven years after the fact.

After all this despite all the clear cut evidence that Biden did not sexually assault or harass Reade I actually do still believe her. But here’s the catch: I believe her when she said Biden touched her shoulders. I believe her when she said there was a problematic culture in the Senate staffs. When she was fully in control of her narrative I do believe what she was saying. I’m even willing to believe that her experience was super upsetting to her or that it wasn’t taken seriously at the time. What I do not believe is the men around her. Once she became an instrument of the Bernie Bros and Trump her story stopped being credible.

She’s being used.

I do think she’s rather complicit in this — I linked a news article above that she authored as a medium post years ago and has since edited without including a note that she’s drastically changed the entire meaning and thesis of the piece — but at the end of the day all the Bros pretending they care about sexual assault victims will get to walk away from this. Reade though filed a police report. She might end up in jail. And for what? This woman’s life is being ruined so that Sanders supporters can try to keep Trump in office. And remember, these are the same guys routinely calling me a stupid and/or disrespectful c-word. They do not care about women.

But even more important than Reade or Bernie Bros or Sanders’ own ego or even the 2020 Presidential election is how we talk about sexual assault and victims of sexual assault. The MeToo movement was phenomenal because finally all the women who had been harassed and assaulted could actually talk about it. I personally haven’t gone after any of the guys who messed with me, but I finally have that option. Even without the support of any men, if I decide to take down the guys who sent me rape threats or the guy who raped my friend in high school and then threatened me that is actually a thing I can do. That’s really great. When I tried to report those incidents at the time I faced some pretty severe ramifications. There were actually several years of my life where they had told me I was lying so much I stopped believing my own eyes or ears.

And this newfound voice women have fought to have is what Reade’s accusation threatens to dismantle. What she’s doing and what the Bros supporting her are doing isn’t new. Using rape, threats of rape, and accusations of rape to further one’s own political aims is a cornerstone of white supremacy. So it’s hardly surprising that the Sanders supporters who also support Trump are willing to do this. But by doing this they have reasserted patriarchal power where women won’t be believed unless we’re backed by men, and where men control the narrative for which sexual assault victims are and are not believed.

So, believe Reade. But believe her when she was telling the truth. Don’t believe the story that’s come out of it and don’t believe the men supporting and encouraging her in this. Remember, Sanders’ campaign was a hotbed for sexual harassment and assault. Those issues were brushed aside, but this one which they can use to their advantage is somehow all important.

Believe women. Do not believe men with ulterior motives.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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