Friday, February 15, 2019

I Still Believe Survivors

CW: Discussion of new pertaining to sexual assault and racism
I try - sometimes  - to stay out of other people's local politics, as a result of living in a city where so many people (looking at you Missouri Congressman) think they get to butt in and tell us how to run the city.  So, I am watching the mess of Virginia's top three politicians, who appear to be at this point: 
Governor I was not that blackface, I was the other blackface
Lt. Governor I do not recall her being unhappy when I shoved my penis in her face
Attorney General Oh, yeah, I have also been photographed in blackface. 
Now sure, we could have a whole discussion about could people have learned more about their internalized racism and misogyny since these various incidents.  Really smart people are doing that already, but I wanted to make one thing clear.  
I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson.  I don't care that Justin Fairfax doesn't remember her crying or thinks it's weird that she didn't follow up and ask him why he chose to force himself on her.  Lots of us have had harmful encounters of all kinds with folks, and then realizing that they were going to continue to act like everything was fine and that our choice was to go along with that fiction or enter into the painful choice of trying to get them to admit that what they did sucked when the behavior they engaged in was so obviously wrong, no one should have to explain to them why it was wrong. 
In my life, I have been lucky enough that none of the folks who mistreated me have ended up running for office, or up for the Supreme Court. Yes, today we are calling that lucky.  
I also believe Meredith Watson.  
And here's the thing, someone somewhere is saying, oh but you shouldn't take away a man's livelihood on the basis of one person's say so.  First, there is no magic number of accusers.  I am well aware that the power is all on the side of assaulters, we have proven that over and over again.  I'm not going to list the various things that make these two credible to me.  But let's pretend I was in charge.  So, if I was in charge, such an accusation would result in the following - the accused being put on administrative leave while an investigation occurred.  But right now Mr. Fairfax gets to sit and keep doing his job.  His job that oversees tons of women.  He has done nothing to demonstrate that he has grown or learned how better to treat women. 
And yes, I understand that this country has a not great record regarding accusations of sexual assault against Black men.  But, I also think we commonly confuse evidence for a law prosecution, with evidence for unfitness for your job.  If there were multiple sexual assault accusations against my local hot drink purveyor, I would not go there.  I would not wait.  My safety and my solidarity with survivors are both more important to me.  If I cannot trust a politician to treat me like a rights having person, then I think that politician has failed in their job.  If it were up to me, he would be gone.  
I recognize that Virginia voters and lawmakers may make a different decision. I hope they do it with an eye to keeping Virginians safe.  

RAINN provides support to survivors who might need assistance in both English - and Spanish