On April 21, I published my first piece on Medium about Sexual Assault. I stated that I would go deeper into each of my three points. I am going to address the epistemological point first of just immediately believing people who make an allegation.
Believe All Women. I Stand With Her. I Believe Her. Believe Survivors. Why would anybody lie? Why would a person lie? We have all heard these statements and questions before whether it be from social media sites like Twitter and Instagram to universities like the University of Michigan, to politicians like Kamala Harris, to celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, to everyday people like Stephanie Mundhenk. These mantras have been preached by various parties from all parts of society and it is a major problem. Take a look at what is happening with Joe Biden: Before he was accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, he said that women “should be given the benefit of the doubt”. But now the tables of MeToo have turned on Joe Biden; now he is the one under the microscope and naturally, he doesn’t like it. In his interview with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe, Joe Biden said that her allegations weren’t true.
In 2019, I took a class where one of the units was about the organization, WEAVE, and domestic violence. My professor was speaking and told the class: “Victims should never be questioned; they should always be believed. If someone says that they are the victim of abuse, the only question that they should hear from you is “How can I help?” I was stunned; I couldn’t believe someone would actually say, let alone believe something that absurd. The fact is: Human beings lie and we start at a young age. Lying is a natural mechanism that we learn and practice as we go through life.
Taylor Volk, a white, bisexual woman, fabricated a story about receiving hateful and bigotted emails and a note posted on her door that read “Back To Hell”. Amari Allen, a black girl, lied about three white boys at her school calling her “ugly” and assaulting her by cutting her dreadlocks. Rick Jones, a white, gay man, lied about being robbed, force-fed bleach, and having the words “Die Fag” carved into his arms. Michael Kee, a white, Muslim man, lied about receiving an anti-Muslim note. Adwoa Lewis, a black woman, lied about being harassed by four teenage Trump supporters and having a “Go Home” note put on her car. Jussie Smollett, a gay, black celebrity, lied about being assaulted by white Trump supporters. Anayeli Dominguez Pena, a Mexican-American graduate student activist, lied about being the recipient of threats and attacks at the University of La Verne. There are countless more examples of hoaxes and scams. The point is that people of all backgrounds and statuses lie and just believing people based on a claim is utterly asinine.
The paradigms of “Believe Women” and “Believe Survivors” must be abated. It’s like saying “Believe Blacks”, “Believe Gay People”, “ Believe Handicapped People” or “Believe Children”; it just doesn't make any sense. Besides, saying “Believe Women” is downright sexist; it would be just as valid to preach the message of “Believe Men”.
Sexual assault cases are already difficult to investigate. “Victims” dislike sharing their stories. “Perpetrators” are immediately vilified. In these cases, there are usually only two witnesses: the two individuals involved. The actual truth about these events is unknown. This is what the legal system is for: Finding out the truth. The entire legal system is built upon the fact that people lie and societies must guard themselves against that. Questions often come up by allies of the “victim”: Why would they lie? Why would a person lie? But this is really no argument at all; people lie all the time about a variety of topics for a variety of reasons. For personal gain. To protect themselves. To harm an enemy. To gain the pity of others. Look at Jussie Smollett who orchestrated a hate crime against himself for a greater level of notoriety and salary from FOX. Michael Kee admitted he just wanted some attention. Look at Breana Talbot. She went into a church and claimed three black men raped her. She took the time to self-inflict injuries to make her story appear believable. But after police investigations, the entire story unraveled and was exposed to be a hoax. Look at Emma Sulkowicz, who caused Paul Nungesser, a former student at Columbia, to be ostracized from his job and social network, ruining his life. Emma and Paul were friends who became friends-with-benefits, but it ended up not working out. Emma claimed that Paul had raped her but there were numerous amicable messages after the alleged rape took place, proving she lied. She continued to lie, including about how he still went to Columbia at a point when she knew he had left the country entirely. One of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, Judy Munro-Leighton, stole an anonymous report about a rape that took place and claimed it as her own. The reason for these lies was because she was angry and wanted attention. The lawyer of the main accuser of Kavanaugh, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, admitted that Christine Blasey Ford was in part politically motivated to accuse Kavanaugh.
We hear it all the time: Innocent until proven guilty. Well, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t practice the concept of innocent until proven guilty AND automatically believe “survivors”, as Alyssa Milano now believes. It doesn’t work. If Person A, the “victim” and Person B, the “perpetrator” are in a situation, Person B cannot be treated fairly or seen as innocent if Person A is believed automatically. If people are just believed without question, then justice cannot truly take place.
Imagine if you or a close friend or family member were being accused of a crime…would you not want due process for yourself and your loved ones?
We cannot have due process in some cases and not throw it out in other cases. Without due process, we become a dystopian society. Society begins to eat itself and fall apart. We will fall deeper and deeper into chaos. People will become more divided and the amount of trust will decline between people. Families will turn on themselves. Friendships will dissolve.
I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a society I want to live in.