I've managed to bulldoze a little space on my Facebook timeline for a world where we hold Joe Biden to the same standards as we did Brett Kavanaugh and we want people to hold Donald Trump.
I've done this by flat out owning that I've gone down the rabbit hole; posting essential columnists like her and her and him and her every day; issuing my own opinion directly and without apology; and deleting the "but she" comments from the three or four people who show up to question Reade's character on my posts.
On that last point, I want to emphasize that each of us owns her own social media timelines. These are our virtual living rooms that we invite others into for conversation and the homeowner gets to decide who stays and where our boundaries are. Part of transforming rape culture is learning to see and take possession of our own social spaces, thereby controlling our own narratives and offering refuge to our allies.
On matters as sensitive as sexual assault, we need more venues in which women are given the full benefit of the doubt and only the accused stand trial in our courts of opinion. As the dust settles on a week of fiery perspectives, Current Affairs columnist Lyta Gold's thesis is emblazoned in my mind: there is no perfect sexual assault victim. In the end we must decide if we will accept as a baseline that women are flawed, that women are human.
I'm sad to see that a few friends have exported some of these articles to their own timelines and ended up beneath a pile on of repetitive rape apologists attacking Tara Reade. I have to admit I catch glimpses of the women of Gilead sipping tea in green dresses as I listen. Groupthink is quite powerful, and so is the narrative being spun by some of the strongest political and media actors in this country right now. But that does not make them right.
As Biden's lead in the polls over Trump dwindles from 8 to 6 and now, this week, to 2, I hope more will recognize the false binary that has been shoved into our brains. Like all advances of the patriarchy over the lines we imagine around our autonomy, we do not have to accept it.
I am one degree of separation away from a woman whose ass was grabbed by Biden this year and for reasons now plainly apparent I doubt will publicly tell her story. The ink is not dry on the brave accounts from 7 women who did come forward to denounce his boundary-shattering treatment of their bodies and space. Anyone can google "Biden" and "fondling" and spend too long feeling nauseous with C-Span clips.
Meanwhile, as women and men rip into Tara Reade on the comment threads of 10,000 social media posts, Joe Biden mangles ideas incoherently and struggles to finish sentences in his basement. He has not provided any compelling policy initiatives or shown any leadership on COVID-19. Unlike Trump who is already organizing his base with an app not unlike the app Sanders team built, Biden has not deployed any grassroots organizing infrastructure. His senate papers are not transparent to the public. His decades long record of documented lies, failures, and plagiarism hangs in the wings, invisible to Democrats but creeping its way into the conservative news cycle.
Our words are arrows.
We have to use them for justice.
We have to use them for women.
We have to use them for those whose records of oppression stretch out centuries behind us.
With so many qualified candidates for president and three full months before we were set to select a nominee, we do not have to use our words to defend Joe Biden.