Women seem to nearly have the power to terminate (kill) the campaigns of candidates for public office.
Women do indeed have power (de facto) to damage candidates and that power is magnified by a sensationalist national news media. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his confirmation hearings (1991), Arnold Schwarzenegger running for governor of California (2003), presidential hopeful Herman Cain (2012), Donald Trump (2016), and now Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore (and others over the years) have all had allegations of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault against them surface at the last moment so to speak in their campaigns or hearings. (All during 1992, such allegations surfaced against then candidate, Bill Clinton. But, his politics and positions on the issues were to the liking of the national news media and thus the many allegations were not repeated over and over again for the national audience. As well, his accusers were attacked by some in the media.)
Our feature image was taken at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco this past summer.
There are 3 items here to ponder. First, why do these allegations seem to only surface very late in the public process for these candidates and nominees? The senate confirmation vote for Thomas was only a few days away when Anita Hill’s allegations went out over the national airwaves. The allegations against Schwarzenegger in 2003, against Trump in 2016 and now against Moore in Alabama were made public in the final weeks of their respective campaigns.
Second, why is it that amid the national media feeding frenzy over such sexual misconduct allegations that the accused is presumed guilty by default? We guess that when it comes to politically incorrect offenses, one is guilty until proven innocent. Yet, we cannot rule out possible political motivations and even personal media attention as factors in the timing of these allegations being made public and the fact that these allegations are made public at all. As to guilt or innocence, this is a 2 edged sword. Each allegation needs to be investigated (or vetted, which the media rarely does a good job of) to see if it has merit. Either the accused is guilty of an offense and the accuser is innocent, or and this is important, the accused is innocent and the accuser is guilty of lying. The media hopes their bias will be adopted by the public and we will all believe by default these accusers with their tear soaked performances in front of the television cameras.
Third, the lesson here for tea party folks and conservatives is that it may be more profitable to run women candidates so as to minimize the risks of such last-minute allegations. Although, it is a sad fact that there are women who sexually harass men. Yet, even in this age of equality, we still collectively see women as victims and it is therefore difficult for many to view women as victimizers or villains.
As to the term “sexual misconduct”, it is rather broad, don’t you think? Anything from the college age young man doing a double take from a distance of a young woman sporting a tiny swimsuit at the beach to forcible, violent rape and everything in between these extremes can be labelled sexual misconduct. We should never minimize nor trivialize serious offenses and crimes such as sexual assault and rape. But, we ought not exaggerate the severity of some rather innocuous things that people do either. Perhaps if we could be a little more precise and specific in this area we could more easily grasp the gravity of the offenses.
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