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I took a moment away from work and movement-related issues to be present where I was needed as my family was affected with COVID. But, I know many of you are wondering about my “take” on the Tara Reade story.
My stance has never wavered: survivors have a right to speak their truth and to be given the space to heal.
The inconvenient truth is that this story is impacting us differently because it hits at the heart of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. And I hate to disappoint you but I don’t really have easy answers.
There are no perfect survivors. And no one, especially a presidential candidate, is beyond reproach. So where does that leave us?
In a just world, we’d have a transformative approach to dealing with claims of sexual violence where a survivor’s story is given fair consideration and they are made whole by a process that supports both accountability and healing.
This is doubly important when outsized power dynamics are involved. But, we don’t have that right now.
What we have now is a zero-sum game where absolutely no one wins, in part because most people weighing in at the moment don’t actually care about transforming a culture of sexual violence.
Many of you are only interested in this story because you are entertained by the trauma of others or because it has the potential to be politically expedient - with no real regard for the survivor.
On the one hand, Tara Reade has been afforded the opportunity to speak her truth through mainstream media reporting on her claims and ongoing investigative journalism.
She should have been able to come forward in a process where she was treated fairly, in a trusted system. Instead, like other public survivors before her, she had to rely on journalists in order to be heard - precisely because the systems for survivors are not in place.
On the other hand, the defense of Joe Biden shouldn’t rest on whether or not he's a “good guy” or “our only hope.” Instead, he could demonstrate what it looks like to be both accountable and electable.
Meaning, at minimum, acknowledging that his demonstrated learning curve around boundaries with women, at the very least, left him open to the plausibility of these claims.
No matter what you believe, we are allowed to expect more of the person running for U.S. President.
This is where we are. We don’t have a guidebook for this, in part because it would take a willingness from ALL of us to write it.
Survivors deserve more than being used as a political football by disinterested parties. And a culture of acknowledging harm can’t exist if we continue to view sexual violence as a catastrophic outlier rather than an embedded toxic element of our culture.
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