Believing Women and Voting Biden

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Believe women. This is the rallying cry of the #MeToo movement and it is solid advice when it comes to allegations of men behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner. While the circumstances of many allegations cannot be substantiated due to lack of witnessed or evidence, it is exceedingly rare that women take the time or the risk to make up allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. It is difficult to allege that someone is lying just to ‘make a name for themselves’ when that fame is the sort that typically results in more death threats than lucrative deals.

In recent years, the #MeToo movement has made great strides. People like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein who were thought to be untouchable are behind bars for terrible crimes they committed against women who had been telling their stories for decades.

And yet, despite the most diverse Presidential candidate field in history, the incumbent President and the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party are both straight white guys in their 70s with a history of being sexually inappropriate with women. Without paying any closer attention one might make the mistake of thinking that these two men and the allegations against them are essentially the same. That would be a mistake.

Here are all of the known allegations against Joe Biden in chronological order.

 

1993 – Tara Reade said in 2019 that Biden allegedly touched her neck and shoulders in a way that was inappropriate and uncomfortable. Now in 2020 she is saying he also pushed her up against a wall and put his fingers inside her.

2008 – Amy Coll says that Biden complimented her smile, squeezed her shoulders, and held her “for a beat too long”.

2009 – Amy Stokes say Biden put his hands behind Stokes’ head and pulled her close. She thought he was going to kiss her.

2014 – Lucy Flores claims Biden came up behind her, leaned in, smelled her hair, and kissed the back of her head.

2016 – Sofie Karasek was photographed with Biden holding hands and touching foreheads at the 2016 Acadmey Awards. Karasek later said she felt Biden violated her personal space.

2016 – Caitlyn Caruso shared her story of sexual assault at a University of Nevada event, Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” and put his hand on her thigh.

2012 – DJ Hill says Biden rested his hand on her shoulder and began moving it down her back. She said the encounter made her “very uncomfortable.”

2013 Vail Kohnert-Yount says Biden put his hand on the back of her head and pressed his forehead to her forehead. He also called her a “pretty girl.”

 

Now here are all the allegations against Trump:

Late 1970s – Jessica Leeds claims Trump allegedly groped her repeatedly during an airplane flight.

Early 1990s – Kristin Anderson claims that Trump put his hand up her skirt to her underwear.

1989 – Ivana Trump, Trump’s first wife claims he violently raped her. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Coehn defended this by saying “you cannot rape your spouse.”

1992 – Jill Harth said she had dinner with Trump and her then-boyfirend, George Houraney. During the dinner she says Trump put his hand between her legs and tried to kiss her during a tour of his Mar-a-Lago estate a month later. She sued him and settled for an undisclosed amount.

1996 – Lisa Boyne said that she attended a dinner with Trump and modeling agent John Casablancas during which several othe rwomen in attendance were forced to walk on the table, during which Trump looked up their skirts and asked Boyne which he should sleep with.

1997 – E Jean Carroll claims Trump asked for advice on buying a gift for a girl and then while shopping with him he raped her in a dressing room. She told friends about the incident directly after it happened.

1997 – Cathy Heller claims she put her hand out to say hello to Trump at a Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-A-Lago where he unexpectedly grabbed her and kissed her on the lips in front of her family. She says she pulled away and he tried to kiss her again.

1997 – Temple Taggert was the 21-year-old Miss Utah in the Miss USA contest in 1997. She claims, Trump, who owned the pageant at the time, kissed her “directly on the lips.”

1997 – Mariah Billado and Vicotria Hughes both claim that Trump was walking into the dressing rooms fo the Miss Teen USA pageant while they were changing.

1998 – Karena Virginia, a New York-area yoga instructor, said Trump approached her in 1998 outside the US Open tennis tournament whil she was awaiting car srvice, made unseemly comments about her appearance, grabbed her arm, and groped her breast.

Early 2000s- Karen Johnson, says that at a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-A-Lago Trump pulled her behind a tapestry and kissed and groped her without her consent.

2000 – Bridget Sullivan, who was crowned Miss New Hampshire 2000 claims Trump came into the Miss Universe changing room while the contestants were naked. Trump bragged about doing this on Howard Stern in 2005.

2001 – Tasha Dixon, former Miss Arizona, says Trump walked into a dress rehearsal for a pageant while the contestants were half nakde and whe women were told to ‘fawn all over him’. She was 18 at the time.

2003 – Mindy McGillivray says that Trump grabbed her butt at Mar-a-Lago.

2005 – Rachel Crooks, a secretary who worked in Trump’s building says that when she first met Trump he shook her hand, then kissed her ont he cheeks and then on the lips, while outside an elevator at Trump Tower.

2005 – Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for People magazine says that during a break for an interview times to coincide with the first anniversary of Trump’s marriage to his third wire, Melania, he forced her against a wall and tried to kiss her and only stopped because his butler entered the room.

2005 – Jennifer Murphy, a contestant on the 4th season of “The Apprentice,” claims after she was fired  foromt he reality-TV show, Trump followed her to the elevator and kissed her on the lips.

2005 – Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News anchor said that Trump kissed her on the lips without consent.

2006 – Jessica Drake, at a 2006 golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Drake was asked by Trump to come up to his hotel room. She brought two friends with her because she did not feel safe. He allegedly hugged each of them tightly and kissed each of them on the lips without consent.

2006 – Samantha Holvey, a contestant in the 2006 Miss USA pagaeant said Trump “would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to tow like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,”

2006 – Ninni Laaksonen competed in Miss Universe as Miss Finland. Before an appearance on the David Letterman Show, she says Trump grabbed her butt.

2006 – Summer Zervos, a contestant on the fifth season of the Apprentice kissed her without her consent on three separate occasions and groped her breast.

2013 – Cassandra Searles, former Miss Washington claimed he  grabbed her butt and invited her to his hotel room.

2016 – Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, said that Trump kissed her without her consent at a Tampa, Florida rally.

This list is not including the three women Trump is known to have paid off including Stormy Daniels who he slept with in 2006 while his third wife was home with a new baby.

I’ll be the first to admit that Joe Biden is not my first choice. He’s problematic in a number of areas. It would have been great if someone like Elizabeth Warren had gotten the nomination.

We are left with the choice between two flawed candidates: Joe Biden or Donald Trump. And regardless of how you choose to vote or if you choose to vote at all, one of them is going to be the next President of the United States. It’s important to take allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape very seriously. It’s important that we acknowledge the bravery of these women for coming forward. It’s important that we honor that by believing what women have to say.

It would be understandable to throw one’s hands in the air and just proclaim that they’re all corrupt and there’s no point in voting at all. And I would agree with that if the job of President of the United States was simply to be the best person in the country because both fall far short of that. But the job of President is more than a simple popularity contest or purity test. It is to lead a diverse and chaotic nation of over three hundred million people during one of the most dangerous and volatile times in the history of this country.

We have seen how Trump does this. He does this through fear. He does it through bragging and lies. He does it by ignoring a pandemic until it becomes too big to ignore is killing thousands of Americans. He does it by stealing children from their parents and putting them in cages where some die. He does it by ridiculing women who dare do something as simple as ask him a question he doesn’t like. And given four more years he will do all this and worse. He will end legal abortion. He will fight against equal pay for women. He will continue to openly insult women doing their jobs. He will put more rapists on the Supreme Court. We know this.

We also know quite a bit about Biden. He helped write the first climate change law. He believes that healthcare is a human right. He listens to experts. He helped make gay marriage the law of the land. He was Vice President of the United States for eight years under Barrack Obama during which our economy saw more prosperity than it had at any other time in the 21st Century.

We know one other thing too. Incumbent Presidents tend to win reelection. See Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. So not voting or voting third party is not a protest. It’s not a way to show the Powers That Be that you’ve had enough. It’s surrender to four more years of Donald Trump in the White House.

I believe women. I believe women when they are making allegations against Republicans or Democrats. I believe women when they are making allegations against the powerful or the insignificant. And I believe that women will be better off under a Biden Presidency than another four years of Trump.
– Jack Cameron

Enthusiastic Consent

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Guys, we’re in a situation here. The #MeToo movement has not only exposed countless men in positions of powers who have been harassing, assaulting, and raping women, it has also exposed men, who, for many of us seem way too much like ourselves. We read the account of Aziz Ansari’s date, ‘Grace’ and thought about every date that didn’t go right and wondered if we were ever pushier than we should have been. Most women I’ve talked to about it can recount more than one occasion where Grace’s story mirrored their own.

Despite the story only being a few days old, much has been written about this. The New York Times says the only thing Aziz Ansari is guilty of is not being a mind reader. Others say that his actions are symptomatic of a problem with our culture. But all of these are missing the point. The point here is that Aziz Ansari says he believed everything was consensual. His partner makes it clear that it wasn’t. Given that he doesn’t dispute her version of events, it’s worth noting that whatever consent was given was reluctant at best.

When I was a far younger man my go-to move was that once we started making out, I would say, “Stop me if I go too far.” and then respect when and if she told me there was a line she didn’t want to cross. Of course I was young and inexperienced and not bright enough to realize that for a variety of reasons, a woman who doesn’t want to do something might do something anyway just to avoid an awkward, hurtful, or potentially dangerous situation. This isn’t something that immediately makes sense to a guy like me who isn’t used to partners that are larger and stronger than me, who is never going to be called ‘easy’ or ‘slut’, who is never going to be told I’m playing ‘hard to get’, or that I’m frigid. It took time and experience for me to realize my mistake.

The problem we face is that consent can be a very tricky thing. As coercion, even unintentional coercion, can make apparent consent not real consent. You can’t control the factors that might make someone reluctantly agree to sexual activities. But you can refuse to engage in sexual activities with someone who is reluctant to agree.

Part of the problem is the idea that has been ingrained in men practically since birth that the absolute best thing in life is getting some. We learned this around the same time we were learning about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and like both of those, it’s complete bullshit. Having successfully had sex with a woman who was at best marginally interested in what you’re doing is not any sort of accomplishment. Listen to the countless women who read Grace’s story and completely related to it. It’s common. All too common. Worse, it’s scarring for women and alienating for men.

This is why I think we, and by ‘we’ I mean men, should not require consent. We should require enthusiastic consent. You shouldn’t be spending your post-coital moments wondering if she really wanted to have sex with you. You should be spending those moments well aware that she wanted you as much or more than you wanted her. There should be no gray areas here. It’s simple. If a woman hasn’t made it absolutely clear that she wants to have sex with you, don’t have sex with her. That’s it.

We need to accept that there will be times where we could have had sex and don’t because it’s not the right thing to do. And guess what? If a woman really wants to have sex with you, she will let you know the next time there’s an opportunity. Enthusiastically even.

Enthusiastic consent* gets rid of any ambiguity because while it’s easy to fake acceptance, it’s difficult to fake enthusiasm. Someone who is willing is not enough. They need to really want it. Not to mention, having sex when everyone involved really wants to have sex with each other is the best kind of sex there is.

– Jack Cameron

*As with any talk about consent, it’s worth mentioning that consent is not like buying a car. It’s not one decision. It’s countless decisions. Enthusiastic consent can be withdrawn at any time. Keep this in mind.