Opinion: Alyssa Milano, Joe Biden, and the Dismantling of the #MeToo Movement
The #MeToo movement gained national prominence by allowing women with alleged sexual abuse claims to have their cases heard in the court of public opinion–regardless of legal limitations, lack of witnesses or even poor credibility.
#MeToo supporters who’ve insisted that alleged victims receive the benefit of the doubt are disturbingly silent about the sexual allegations against democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.
Tara Reade, a former Senate aide of Joe Biden from 1992 to 1993 recently accused the democratic frontrunner of sexual assault. According to Reade, Biden ran his hand underneath her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers. Reade provided a description of the sexual assault in a podcast interview with Katie Halper.
The alleged victim was encouraged to come forward after watching an episode of the ABC show, “The View,” in which the panelists discussed other claims of sexual harassment allegations from Lucy Flores, a former Nevada lawmaker, who accused Biden of touching her inappropriately during a Democratic campaign rally in 2014 (he was vice president at the time).
Most of the panelists stood up for Biden and said Flores’s claims were “politically motivated.” Subsequently, Reade decided she had to come forward and show support for Flores. Although the statute of limitations already expired, that didn’t prevent Reade from coming forward with her story.
She has since filed a criminal complaint with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department against Biden.
“I filed a police report for safety reasons only. All crim [sic] stats beyond limitations. Gratitude for all who have stood by me,” Reade said via Twitter.
Last year, Reade and seven other women came forward and accused Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior in ways that made them feel “uncomfortable.” Biden acknowledged the womens’ complaints and said his intentions were benign. He promised to be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”
When Reade’s sexual assault allegations were featured on The New York Times Magazine on Easter Sunday, it was easy to detect a clear agenda in the headlines.
By comparison, previous Times Magazine articles focused on #MeToo stories targeting Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh in his alleged sexual assault case against accusors Christine Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
The Times’ investigative piece on Deborah Ramirez, Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale accuser, was headlined, “Brett Kavanaugh Fit in With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not“, “For Christine Blasey Ford, a Drastic Turn From a Quiet Life in Academia“, and “With Caffeine and Determination, Christine Blasey Ford Relives Her Trauma.”
Most of the mainstream media gave Ford and Ramirez the benefit of the doubt with the assumption of good faith. The stories portrayed the accusers as likable, naive, and above all: credible. However, The New York Times has since changed its standards regarding Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden. They’re reporting the allegations with extreme caution and skepticism, which is inconsistent with how they’ve previously treated the Kavanaugh allegations.
Kavanaugh was demonized and “convicted” without a trial. Conservatives were told that Ford’s “credible allegation” was sufficient to deny Kavanaugh a seat on the court before he could be afforded a trial. This was the polar opposite of the presumption of innocence that every American enjoys as one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system: a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.
Those on the left cried that Kavanaugh should be disqualified without due process simply because of the way he was reacting towards these allegations.
I’ll be the first to admit that the allegations against Kavanaugh and Joe Biden are weak, but we can’t deny that there is a politically motivated agenda behind the sharp contrast in how they are being currently covered. When the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations first emerged the left wing news media were actively covering it. But, there has been minimal coverage with Reade’s allegations and absolutely no coverage from news networks such as CNN and CBS, nothing compared to how the Kavanaugh allegations were first received. Since Reade has come forward with her allegation, Biden has never been questioned about it on televised interviews with MSNBC, CNN, ABC, or NBC.
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”said Biden during the confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh.
Joe Biden said he “believes all women.” If that is so, then why isn’t he giving Reade an opportunity to have her voice heard?
Blindly believing all women empowers false accusers and discourages survivors from coming forward. This is why we have due process. It gives the accuser and the accused an opportunity to have both their voices heard. All political parties should be obligated to transparently investigate serious allegations made toward any presidential candidate rather than have them be dismissed along party lines.
A Hypocritical Activist
All three of these women were extremely critical of Kavanaugh when Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her. Ford was given an opportunity to have her voice heard.
Milano, who has over three million followers on Twitter alone, is misusing her large platform to protect an alleged abuser and is single-handedly damaging the credibility of a movement that once was intended to help survivors of sexual assault tell their stories.
The movement as a hashtag went viral immediately after Hollywood actress Milano urged survivors to share their #MeToo stories to help spread awareness of sexual assault violence via Twitter and encouraged survivors to also use the hashtag. The #MeToo hashtag has been used on Twitter more than 19 million times between Oct. 2017–Sept. 2018.
Milano is changing the way women will forever see the movement by denying the same opportunity for Tara Reade to be heard, an opportunity to be believed, and supported.
In a tweet accompanied by a video clip, Milano said she believes it’s important to provide men with “due process” when they are publicly accused of sexual misconduct. However, she never expressed this same sentiment during the Kavanaugh allegations in 2018. Milano’s silence about a potential victim and her endorsement of Joe Biden only proves that in today’s world of politics sexual predators should only be held accountable when it’s politically convenient.
This article isn’t about blindly believing Reade’s allegations against Biden, but about the hypocrisy behind those that have used the #MeToo movement for political purposes. Neither Democrats or Republicans should have immunity from sexual assault allegations.
These allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. Sadly, the movement has been hijacked for political motives and has moved away from its once intended purpose: to support sexual assault survivors.