LibLink: Christine Jardine: Trump turns hope of #MeToo movement into despair

Donald Trump’s foul rants about Christine Blasey Ford and his assertion that it’s a scary time for young men in America are not the random uttering of an unpredictable, mercurial leader. It’s much more calculating than that. It’s a carefully targeted message to the Republican Party’s white male base that they are under threat. He wants their votes in the midterms in 4 weeks’ time. Portraying Brett Kavanaugh as the victim of a nasty leftie Democrat plot is all part of that strategy.

It must be a lot scarier for young women thinking about coming forward with allegations of sexual assault when they see their President mocking someone who did. Christine Blasey Ford still can’t return to her home because of the threats to her life.

In the Scotsman, Christine Jardine writes about the President’s behaviour and the effect it has on women. She looks at the progress made for equality in workplaces over the last few decades and calls on us to call out inappropriate behaviour and support women who come forward with allegations.

Just when we thought society was being more supportive and understanding of victims of sexual abuse, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, along came the Brett Kavanaugh case to prove us wrong.

Like so many women, and I’m sure men too, I know exactly what it’s like to sit and think through what the potential implications of calling-out inappropriate behaviour. Will people say you encouraged it? Will it damage your career if it’s work-related? Will you be accused of having some motive for damaging this other person? Is it worth it?

And it doesn’t have to be a serious sexual assault to throw you into that sort of dilemma. It could be an innuendo about your clothes or looks that made you uncomfortable. Someone invading your space by constantly touching in a way that suggests an intimacy you just don’t share. Or maybe it’s someone who won’t take the hint that you really don’t fancy them. I can almost hear the tutting coming from some places. But those are exactly the sort of behaviours which, if we don’t nip them in the bud, become the building blocks of harassment.

We were getting a bit better at dealing with this stuff, but now we’re heading backwards:

But then came Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump. Both the case itself, and the circus surrounding it, have been horrible to witness. Could we be seeing the beginning of a backlash? And let’s not make the mistake of thinking that this is some outrageous US-only phenomenon that is restricted to the rich and the Ivy-League educated political elite. No. Here too we are seeing it. Allegations about possible misconduct at the Scottish Parliament have become an examination of how the female First Minister has handled them, rather than the actual accusations, or the person accused.

Worse still the machinations of the Senate committee on Brett Kavanaugh have added to the suspicion that, as I heard one person put it this week: “This women’s stuff has gone too far, we have to think about the men.”

So what’s to be done?

Well. No. I’m sorry. It’s not that simple. It’s never acceptable for any man or woman to use either their power in the workplace or some exaggerated opinion of themselves to make someone else uncomfortable or stressed.

If that behaviour extends to a proven physical or emotional threat, our only thought should be removing them, and quickly. And if that threat is historic and has left someone emotionally traumatised and unable to speak up for many years? We should support them through the fresh trauma of coming forward.

You can read the whole article here.

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2 Comments

  • As I see it, western society is realigning to understand better the varying roles and rights of different sectors. To maintain a healthy society we need to come to a more enlightened awareness of everybody’s needs and wants and find a more modern compromise that respects everyone.

  • The problem with this whole topic is that everyone has to take sides. And if you are a right thinking liberal the echo chamber decrees that you have to be against Kavanaugh, if only because Trump (Cue pantomime boos off stage) is for him. But what if you really don’t know ?
    I know that I support all women who have endured violent sexual assault. I also know that I also support young men who’s lives and sanity have been tested by false, malicious allegations. I want the truth to prevail and for that I can only rely on the law, the rules of evidence and due process. And it frightens me when I see the placards that say women must always be believed and it frightens me even more when I see supposedly intelligent people nodding their heads in agreement.
    The whole thing is a moral maze . If a man is guilty, what future careers should be closed to him ? And does his age make a difference, or decades of blameless life following the offence ? And what about those who have committed non sexual offences ?
    In this debate there is no room for nuance or for reasoned debate. Choose your team and shout louder than the other lot?

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