Editor’s note: The media’s double standard when it comes to sexual assault allegations is once again in the spotlight. Until very recently, there had been little media attention paid to an accusation of sexual assault against former Vice President Joe Biden. (Biden denies he assaulted Tara Reade, a former aide to Biden.) Just last year, the media similarly was largely quiet about an allegation of sexual assault against another liberal politician, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
But it’s not just the media. In stark contrast to the “believe all women” mantra heard ad nauseam when Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual assault, liberal icons are now stepping up in support of Biden, effectively admitting they don’t “believe all women.”
So we’re republishing this article from 2019 that looked at the hypocrisy of the left on this topic of sexual assault.
Feminists haven’t been this silent since the Bill Clinton years.
Vanessa Tyson came forward Wednesday to accuse Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, saying in a statement that “What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault.”
Tyson, now a politics professor at Scripps College in California, says she had accompanied Fairfax to his hotel room.
“His hand was holding down my neck, and he was much stronger than me,” she recalls, and he forced her to perform a sexual act.
“I cannot believe, given my obvious state of distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual,” Tyson, 42, writes in the statement released by her law firm, Katz, Marshall & Banks, the same firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford amid her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation process.
Fairfax, 39, denies any sexual assault occurred—and has hired the same law firm Kavanaugh used, Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz.
So far, there’s been an eerie silence.
No sexual assault survivors have confronted lawmakers in elevators. No protesters have waited for lawmakers at airports, and, while filming, tried to talk to them about sexual assault. No women have donned the Pilgrim-esque “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes meant to show lack of sexual autonomy and appeared in the Virginia State Capitol. No protests have occurred, and on social media, there’s a notable absence of cries to “believe all women.”
Apparently, if you accuse a Democrat, “believe all women” doesn’t apply.
Of course, Tyson, who calls herself “a proud Democrat,” just released her statement. And one Democrat freshman congresswoman, Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, has said she believes her.
But even if the “believe all women” crowd does eventually end up supporting Tyson, the pause is telling—because it reveals that the left never really believed in believing all women.
Because if it did, it wouldn’t need time to weigh Tyson’s accusations vs. Fairfax’s denials. (Or more cynically, time to weigh whether believing Tyson is worth the cost of pushing out the pro-abortion, Planned Parenthood-endorsed Fairfax.)
Like many Americans, I was troubled when Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. I was glad to see the Senate Judiciary Committee took Ford’s allegations seriously, investigated them, and ultimately gave Ford a hearing with questioning on the Republican side done by an experienced sex-crimes prosecutor. I was likewise glad the Senate Judiciary Committee researched two further claims of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
It’s absolutely true that when a woman makes a sexual assault allegation, she should be taken seriously, particularly given that she has put her own name and reputation on the line—as well as come forward knowing that she’ll likely face significant political vitriol from supporters of her alleged attacker.
And I would hope that partisans on both sides would do their best to wait for the evidence, and not base their sentiments on whether the alleged attacker is one of their guys or not.
But “take seriously” is a very different standard from “believe all women.”
“Believe all women” reduces every woman to some kind of inane idiot, unable to lie even if she wanted to. It assumes no woman has ever gotten confused or been mistaken about the exact circumstances surrounding a trauma.
And it’s also certainly not a standard the left applied before Christine Blasey Ford, as Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and others can attest.
Unfortunately, by politicizing the issue of sexual assault, the left has distracted us from the real work that needs to be done.
What can the U.S. do to help ensure any woman who experiences sexual assault is best equipped to get justice against her perpetrator? Can police officers be better trained to help a traumatized woman when she comes to make a report? Are these cases being prosecuted in the best way, consistently?
Are there steps we as a culture can take to help ensure women aren’t put in vulnerable positions? Given the role of hotel rooms in some of the #MeToo scenarios and now allegedly in the Fairfax case as well, can we make it completely socially and professionally inappropriate for any man to ask a female colleague to come up to a hotel room, no matter the pretext? (Of course, no woman who does go up to a hotel room is in any way to blame for her assault—the only person to blame in any sexual assault is the attacker.)
Do we try to put women on a more equal footing with men by encouraging women who are interested to carry a firearm?
Kimberly Corban, who says she was sexually assaulted while in college, now advocates guns as a way for women to protect themselves. “After [the attack], I started taking my Second Amendment rights very seriously because I knew that that was going to be the only equalizer and the one thing I could train and do for myself,” Corban told The Daily Signal in 2016.
“Believe all women” never made sense as a standard. But the left’s inconsistent application of it makes clear that it’s not women liberals care about, it’s the right to abortion.