Believe Survivors, No Matter What.
Content warning: this article does include mentions of sexual assault. Please read at your own discretion.
Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker, Alyssa Milano, John Lewis, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi.
What do these names have in common? They all believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. They also all endorsed Joe Biden.
Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative justice who was nominated to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court by Donald Trump, was accused of sexual assault. This information came to light in September of 2018, during the confirmation process. Immediately everyone was saying that Kavanaugh shouldn’t be a judge, that Dr. Ford should have the chance to testify, and that this was just further evidence of how sexual assailants are protected in our society. All of that is true. During the hearings we saw Alyssa Milano sitting behind Dr. Ford, the image of grief, as she vowed to stand up for all survivors. We saw Senators Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren, Sanders and more make statements that they believed Dr. Ford. Twitter was alight with people saying #WhyIDidntReport and #MeToo. Kavanaugh was confirmed anyway (thank you Susan Collins, if anyone wants to hear about why I hate her feel free to reach out).
I don’t want to discount the work that was put into trying to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation. We believe Dr. Ford, we continue to believe Dr. Ford, and we believe that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was a miscarriage of justice. The movement that was started should be continued, we should always believe survivors. Right? Well, if you ask those people I listed, the policy of believing survivors ends at the party line.
Joe Biden, presumptive nominee for the Democrats, has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting Tara Reade. Four people have confirmed that Reade confided in them about the assault, and her mother even called into The Larry King Show to talk about it (never naming Biden). Biden has also been accused of sexual harassment and making unwanted physical advances before any allegations from Reade emerged. That didn’t stop the same people who vehemently opposed Kavanaugh from endorsing him.
Let’s examine what some Joe Biden endorsers have said about sexual assault previously. (Note: some of these tweets use gendered terminology in regards to survivors. We recognize that survivors can be from any gender, as can perpetrators.)
None of them have made a comment regarding the allegations with the exception of Alyssa Milano and Kirsten Gillibrand. Milano said that “[She’s] aware of the new developments in Tara Reade’s accusation against Joe Biden. [She] wants Tara, like every other survivor, to have the space to be heard and seen without being used as fodder.” This being said, she also noted that she would continue to support Biden. Gillibrand told a reporter “[she] stand[s] by Vice President Biden. [As] He's devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation.” Kavanaugh denied his allegations as well, but that didn’t stop Gillibrand from demanding that Senators vote no on his confirmation.
So why the split? Well, to put it simply, because Biden is the nicer predator. He’s the guy who worked alongside Barack Obama (who deported more people than any other U.S. President and killed innocent civilians in drone strikes). He helped create It’s On Us! He made friendship bracelets in the Oval Office! With him everything was ‘normal.’
In January of 2018 Joe Biden himself said that “women should be believed,” and decried “abuse of power” by officials. In many ways he is responsible for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. He was championed as a progressive advocate of survivors, someone who would fight for everyone. With recent allegations coming to light, how can Joe Biden supporters continue to ignore what he did, and say that Biden is a better choice than Trump because he assaulted fewer people? The lesser of two evils is still evil, and this situation shows that.
You can vote for Joe Biden. That is fully up to you. But if you said anything about Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, or Donald Trump being unfit to enter their positions because of the allegations against them, you have to keep that energy. Supporting survivors can’t only be when it’s politically convenient for you. And understand why people will refuse to vote for Biden based on these allegations. We believe Dr. Ford, we believe Tara Reade, we believe all survivors.