When Men Are Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Women Become Political Cudgels

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Defenders of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Donald Trump and different politicians person often pointed to wrongdoing successful the different enactment to deflect accusations of mistreating women.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York.
Credit...Richard Drew/Associated Press

Maggie Astor

Aug. 5, 2021, 6:32 p.m. ET

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A study released connected Tuesday by the New York lawyer general’s bureau corroborated intersexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and, successful doing so, broke a dam that had held for months aft the archetypal allegations emerged. President Biden called connected Mr. Cuomo to resign. So did Jay Jacobs, the president of the New York State Democratic Party. And several legislature Democrats. And unions. And more.

But adjacent arsenic the governor’s organization enactment slipped away, societal media overflowed with three-word responses from Democrats and liberals, suggesting that the radical investigating oregon denouncing Mr. Cuomo should crook their absorption to Republicans accused of intersexual misconduct: “Now bash Trump.” “Now bash Gaetz.”

It is simply a acquainted refrain. Substitute the sanction of immoderate salient person accused of intersexual harassment oregon assault, and you volition find radical invoking them successful effect to immoderate study on, probe of oregon repercussion for a person of the other party. These comments purport to beryllium a defence of survivors and a denunciation of partisan hypocrisy successful responding to intersexual misconduct. But they service to deflect attraction from the allegations astatine manus and reenforce a dynamic profoundly entrenched successful our politics: When determination is partisan summation oregon nonaccomplishment to beryllium had, survivors go governmental cudgels.

Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and erstwhile gymnast who was the archetypal pistillate to publically describe maltreatment by the erstwhile U.S.A. Gymnastics doc Larry Nassar, has denounced Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan groups alike for their responses erstwhile 1 of their ain is accused of intersexual misconduct. An evangelical Christian, she has besides spoken retired against religion leaders who person covered up intersexual violence.

The politicization of intersexual maltreatment is “deeply painful, due to the fact that the connection it sends implicit and implicit again is: ‘You are not worthy enough. Abuse doesn’t substance enough,’” Ms. Denhollander said. “‘I volition enactment you truthful agelong arsenic it’s not my community, it’s not my campaigner and it won’t outgo maine anything, but arsenic soon arsenic it is my community, it is my campaigner and it mightiness outgo maine to care, it’s not worthy capable and you are not worthy enough.’”

Since the MeToo question erupted successful 2017, governmental figures successful some large parties person been accused of intersexual misconduct, and successful the astir salient cases, Democrats person much often held their ain accountable: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, for example, resigned rapidly aft apical Democrats turned connected them, portion Republicans confirmed Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and person stood by erstwhile President Donald J. Trump contempt much than 20 allegations.

But the Democratic Party besides stuck by Mr. Biden aft a erstwhile unit member, Tara Reade, accused him of intersexual battle (he denies the allegation), and galore rank-and-file members of the enactment inactive explicit choler astatine Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York for being the archetypal Democratic legislator to impulse Mr. Franken to resign.

“In cases involving politicians, what we don’t privation to spot is everyone retreating into their partisan corners without digging into what the information really is,” said Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual-violence organization. “Similarly, we don’t privation radical to disregard the results of an probe that finds wrongdoing. We’re hoping that the state volition get to the constituent of, erstwhile determination is grounds of intersexual misconduct, whether the perpetrator is simply a Democrat oregon Republican, acknowledging that world and holding them accountable for the harm they person done.”

After Ms. Reade came guardant past year, the National Republican Congressional Committee — which works to elite House Republicans — sent a flurry of tweets and emails accusing legislature Democrats of hypocrisy for not believing her, but believing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh.

At the time, I asked a spokesperson for the committee whether its enactment believed Ms. Reade. He responded that helium would reply arsenic soon arsenic I asked each House Democrat the aforesaid question.

Understand the Scandals Challenging Gov. Cuomo’s Leadership

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Which brings america backmost to the “now bash Trump” refrain and its galore cousins.

“To beryllium honest, it reminds maine of my small kids squabbling — and what I accidental to them is, ‘All you tin power is your ain behavior,’” Ms. Denhollander said. “At immoderate point, we person to beryllium consenting to enactment our ft down and to clasp to what is close and existent and good, careless of the consequences to us. That is the lone mode to commencement moving america to a strategy of existent accountability, existent standards for our leaders. And 1 broadside is going to person to marque the archetypal move.”

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