A few notes on this New York Times column by Bari Weiss called The “Limits of ‘Believe All Women,’” which is predictably bad but not really that deep.
“Believe all women” is not a thing. It’s “believe women.” That may seem a small distinction, but this column’s repeated use—in quotation marks, even—of an inaccurate distortion of the concept it is supposedly addressing is indicative of Weiss’s usual bad faith.
“Hunt” is not how I would describe a series of months in which dozens of women have come forward, often with the understanding that they will face considerable public scrutiny and sometimes legal threats, about harassment and abuse that they say they’ve experienced at the hands of powerful men. Ditto for “exhilarating.” Writing about this bad column does not exhilarate me, for example.
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See notes 1 and 2.
Glenn Thrush was suspended from his job pending an investigation. He is not under arrest. Neither, for that matter, is Harvey Weinstein!
Seems weird to try to make the point that the supposed political principle of “believe all women” has gone too far with an example in which a woman, in connection with a rightwing organization, made a maliciously false claim that was investigated by journalists and found to be maliciously false.
Same basic idea here. Weiss holds up an example in which the rightwing media used a progressive concept as a weapon against their political enemies as a reason why it is dangerous to expect that women’s experiences of violence and harassment should be considered seriously and not reflexively disbelieved.
The story about Huffington did not get the same kind of media attention as other reported allegations against Franken precisely because Huffington herself rejected it. In as much as believe women means anything actionable, it is about taking women seriously as narrators of their own experience. The quick fade of that report was an example of how this kind of thing works, though Weiss claims it means the opposite.
Where Weiss concocts a dangerous flattening, I see women and men grappling quite seriously with what it means to address sexual harassment and violence in a systematic way that accounts for nuance, power, and individual context. “Trust but verify” is just another way of saying “believe women,” which is another way of saying “don’t reflexively disbelieve women.” Increasingly, in painful fits and starts, we’re seeing what it looks like to do that.