One of the founders of the #MeToo movement, which pledged to root out sexual harassment and sexual violence in the entertainment and media industries and bring perpetrators to swift and decisive justice, is making an exception for former Vice President Joe Biden, recently the subject of a sexual assault allegation.
Tarana Burke, who is widely recognized as the primary activist behind #MeToo — and widely celebrated as the “brave” woman who empowered women in the entertainment industry to finally address widespread sexual harassment and violence — said on social media that, while every woman deserves to be heard and acknowledged when making claims of sexual violence, the situation with Biden is different.
“My stance has never wavered: survivors have a right to speak their truth and to be given the space to heal,” she began, reaffirming the stance of the #MeToo movement.
She then admits, though, an “inconvenient” truth: she’s behind Biden.
“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,” she said, clearly struggling with the idea that she might have to condemn someone she’s supporting for higher office.
Burke then kind of implies that Biden’s accuser, a former aide named Tara Reade, may not be as believable as other women she’s stressed should be believed.
“There are no perfect survivors,” she says. “And no one, especially a presidential candidate, is beyond reproach. So where does that leave us?”
That’s when the real pretzel logic begins.
“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,” Burke says, clearly referring to only a handful of stories which have largely discounted Reade’s allegations. “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,” Burke adds, “the defense of Joe Biden shouldn’t rest on whether or not he’s a ‘good guy’ or ‘our only hope.”
She then offers Biden a way out: “Instead, he could demonstrate what it looks like to be both accountable and electable.”
In other words, the movement Burke lead, to remove sexual predators from positions of power, only applies when those men are unsavory characters in particular industries. In cases where alleged sexual predators may rise to positions of power that ultimately benefit progressive activists, it’s possible to promote those same alleged sexual predators, albeit with reservations.
So how does Biden demonstrate that he is “both accountable and electable?” Burke says he simply needs to admit some fault — even if it’s not specific fault. He can simply say that he’s been more comfortable with women than is socially acceptable, giving him the opportunity to maintain his innocence, while acknowledging that claims may arise regarding his behavior.
“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,” Burke says. “No matter what you believe, we are allowed to expect more of the person running for U.S. President.”
Burke, of course, was far less forgiving when it came to other men in power, including convicted sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, and then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom Burke actively campaigned againt.
“When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was defending herself to Congress after alleging that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her in the early 1980s, many members of the Me Too movement stood behind Ford and offered full-throated support,” the Huffington Post reported, adding that Burke herself wrote a supportive letter to Ford, calling her a hero for opposing “the patriarchy with no weapons other than her voice, her body, and the truth.”