Surprise! People are now looking for excuses to ignore women’s allegations of sexual misconduct. (More)
“The huntressess’ war cry”
The huntresses’ war cry – “believe all women” – has felt like a bracing corrective to a historic injustice. It has felt like a justifiable response to a system in which the crimes perpetrated against women – so intimate, so humiliating, and so unlike any other – are so very difficult to prove. But I also can’t shake the feeling that this mantra creates terrible new problems in addition to solving old ones.
First, as Splinter’s Katie McDonough reminds us, the phrase is “believe women,” not “believe all women,” and that difference matters:
“Believe all women” is not a thing. It’s “believe women.” That may seem a small distinction, but this column’s repeated use – in quotation marks, even – of an inaccurate distortion of the concept it is supposedly addressing is indicative of Weiss’s usual bad faith.
Worse, McDonough writes, calling the flood of long-silenced stories a “hunt” is both insulting and palpably absurd:
“Hunt” is not how I would describe a series of months in which dozens of women have come forward, often with the understanding that they will face considerable public scrutiny and sometimes legal threats, about harassment and abuse that they say they’ve experienced at the hands of powerful men. Ditto for “exhilarating.” Writing about this bad column does not exhilarate me, for example.
Weiss repeatedly uses hyperbole to belittle the real harm of sexual harassment:
In less than two months we’ve moved from uncovering accusations of criminal behavior (Harvey Weinstein) to criminalizing behavior that we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish (Glenn Thrush). In a climate in which sexual mores are transforming so rapidly, many men are asking: If I were wrongly accused, who would believe me?
Again … Bull. Shit.
Neither Weinstein nor Thrush was arrested. Neither has been charged with a crime. And unless some truly dramatic revelations emerge, neither of them will be charged with a crime. They have been charged with sexual harassment. The allegations would be grounds for discrimination lawsuits under the Civil Rights Act, and grounds for firing under most companies’ conduct policies. And in fact both have been fired.
But being fired for misconduct is not “criminalization.” That word blurs important legal distinctions and enables male privilege whines like this:
Rape used to have a narrow definition. Rape used to have a definition where it was – it was brutality, it was forced sexual attack and penetration. Now it’s become, really, any sex that the woman ends up regretting that she had. And that leaves us without a lot of clarity, because when words lose their meaning, then they can be manipulated. And so now the left has made it so that women who are, maybe are – I don’t want to paint a scenario because the freaks at Media Matters are listening and they want to take me out of context, so I’m not going to give specific scenarios – but you guys can do this in your own mind, where rape used to mean something. We used to all knew what it meant. And then now we don’t know what it means. And then we don’t know what’s credible and what’s not. And now everyone is going to come forward.
Did the boss put a knife to your throat? Was it a “forced sexual attack and penetration?” No? Then stop “criminalizing behavior that we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish!” Those damn “sexual mores are transforming so rapidly” that men can’t be expected to keep up.
But sexual harassment has been illegal for decades. It was first recognized as workplace discrimination in 1976 – in Williams v. Saxbe – and the EEOC issued regulations against sexual harassment in 1980. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized it as cause of action under the 1964 Civil Rights Act in 1986, in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson.
It’s been almost 42 years since the first sexual harassment case, 38 years since the EEOC regulations, 32 years since the first U.S. Supreme Court case. How, exactly, are the recent allegations a case of “sexual mores are transforming so rapidly?”
Oh … because now at least some businesses are taking decades-old law seriously. At least some businesses have begun to “believe women” … and that must be stopped lest we slide into an abyss where a guy can’t even say “watch me masturbate in this potted plant” or grope an underage girl without fear of losing his job (or his would-be U.S. Senate seat). The horror!
Weiss cites James O’Keefe’s attempt to sting the Washington Post as proof that we need to be wary of “believing all women.” But the Post carefully fact-checked the original allegations against Roy Moore before they published, and that same careful fact-checking exposed O’Keefe’s clumsy troll.
Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior had been an open secret in Hollywood for decades – NBC spiked the story despite fact-checkers confirming it – but New York Times reporters still investigated for months before publishing.
Indeed the only allegation that has ‘stuck’ against Sen. Al Franken is the one by Leeann Tweeden, because there was a photo. And despite Weiss’ ridiculous argument, the media aren’t making an exception for the photos of Franken and Arianna Huffington, as McDonough explains:
The story about Huffington did not get the same kind of media attention as other reported allegations against Franken precisely because Huffington herself rejected it. In as much as believe women means anything actionable, it is about taking women seriously as narrators of their own experience. The quick fade of that report was an example of how this kind of thing works, though Weiss claims it means the opposite.
And yes, there’s real fallout from the kind of bullshit Weiss shovels. Today the Post reports that the God-King is now claiming the Access Hollywood tape was faked … despite his having admitted to it last October.
Weiss’ nonsense makes it easier for the God-King’s followers to ignore his admission to making the tape, and instead believe he was set up by Billy Bush and Access Hollywood and a sound editor and George Soros and on and on. Even a labyrinthine conspiracy theory is better than believing … women.
Image Credit: Fred Klonsky
Good day and good nuts