The #MeToo movement is a true example of a cultural force. Emerging in 2017, the hashtag led to widespread discussions about the sexual harassment and assault of women – for many, it represented a real sea change that could only be a societal positive. But as a 1993 allegation of abuse surrounds presumptive Democratic 2020 nominee Joe Biden and the establishment strives to cover it up, it appears that we’ve forgotten the lessons of #MeToo. If we continue on the same path of protecting Biden, we may as well declare the movement dead.
I was TV Editor when the #MeToo movement first emerged, and I remember it well. There was a genuine feeling of cultural change, as if the elite were no longer going to get away with abusing their power – this was the moment everything would change. We saw abusers be toppled, from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey. The Judge Kavanaugh confirmation hearing truly fostered a discourse about abuse and systemic pressures on women. These topics enthused our writers like never before, and I remember feeling really proud about how our paper amplified some of these voices.
This Biden story of abuse against former staffer Tara Reade has hit the headlines again the same month that Weinstein was sentenced to jail. The contrast couldn’t be starker. When Weinstein was finally forced to face justice, there was a sense that we would no longer tolerate societal cover-ups of abuse by the powerful. But, in Biden’s case, the old standards have sadly returned. Establishment politicians have lined up to protect Biden, essentially dismissing the allegations because they claim Biden is a good guy – these same people told us to believe all women, but clearly only when it’s convenient for them.
Four years ago, it was argued that Donald Trump shouldn’t be elected to the post of President because of allegations against him – for Joe Biden, it’s hardly worth a mention
And this is on the rare occasion that political figures are actually asked any questions. Almost to a tee, the mainstream media has buried the story. An ethical media would pursue the story – by contrast, Biden has not yet been asked any questions on Tara Reade, even during a virtual roundtable on women’s issues and sexual abuse. Perhaps the feeling is that, if the story isn’t covered, it will just fade away – but with the power of the internet, this will not vanish. The media wonder why they’re distrusted as they bury a negative story on the Democratic candidate for the Presidency. Imagine how they this story would have been covered if Biden were a Republican. Oh wait, we don’t need to imagine.
When President Trump choose Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court, the appointment was almost derailed by an abuse allegation. Dr Christine Blasey Ford claimed Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers, and the subsequent confirmation trial essentially came to represent the whole #MeToo movement. From the off, despite a total lack of evidence and major holes in her story, it was clear that politicians and the media believed Ford’s versions of events entirely. In a typical statistic, CNN published 700 articles about the Kavanaugh allegations in the 19 days between when they became public and his confirmation – by contrast, it took them 24 days to write even one about Joe Biden, despite his history of being inappropriate with women.
I remember a student body enthused by the prospect of women’s stories actually being listening to and the powerful being held to account, and then I see what is happening now, and it truly makes my skin crawl
The more this goes on, the more it feels as if those driving the #MeToo movement had an agenda aside from protecting the abused and amplifying their voices. A few, like Rose McGowan, have always been consistent, but take Alyssa Milano, for example. She felt so strongly about Dr Ford that she came to Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and sat behind her in solidarity. But, faced with far stronger evidence against Biden, she now calls for restraint and asks that we hear all the facts before we make judgement: “I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man that I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos without there being a thorough investigation.”
I’m not saying that Joe Biden should be thought guilty – if anything, it should be innocent until proven guilty. I want these allegations to be examined, and I want the same standard applied to anyone accused of abuse. This was a lesson that I thought we’d learned by now, but it seems not – the disgraceful media and establishment cover-up of the Biden allegations is proof enough of this. Four years ago, it was argued that Donald Trump shouldn’t be elected to the post of President because of allegations against him – for Joe Biden, it’s hardly worth a mention. It’s a corrupt media that finds the phrase ‘grab them by the pussy’ more problematic than an accusation of a man doing exactly that. I remember a student body enthused by the prospect of women’s stories actually being listening to and the powerful being held to account, and then I see what is happening now, and it truly makes my skin crawl. Abuse survivors deserve better than the people carrying their flag deciding to so casually disregard it now it’s politically inconvenient.