As much as I love to watch my drink to ward off rapey advances, I have opted not to go to the League this year. I remained in Hudson in the spirit of insularity and for the love of work and sobriety. However, I wanted to make sure of one thing — I wanted to make sure that those of you at the League consider a few things while brokering deals. In particular, when selecting a successor for elected office, please make sure that they are not a rapist.
I have been questioned, praised, condemned, and asked to lecture on the fact that I am an open and unafraid woman who owns my experience of being assaulted. What is most fascinating, and probably unbeknownst to many, is the domino effect caused by being so open – that once you are – women come forward to you in confidence over and over and the more vocal you are, the more disclosures you hear. When I studied rape as an act of war in my graduate international affairs coursework, many fellow graduate students came forward in confidence and shared their experiences after I discussed from an insider’s perspective the societal affect of rape. When I wrote my condemnation of Donald Trump from the stance of a woman unafraid of the fact that I was raped, women were compelled to tell me their experiences in confidence … and in droves.
(I will always keep those confidences, come ruin or rapture.)
In consideration of the #metoo hash tag and the Moore allegations, and the Kevin Spacey Allegations, and the TRUMP allegations, women are more commonly believed and are therefore more comfortable coming forward than ever before.
With that, some advice.
You are at the League of Municipalities, an event where terrible things have happened to women in our field. Women, who like anyone else, deserved safety.
If you are not a rapist or someone who keeps rapists wittingly on your payroll, good! If you haven’t already, you should begin to change your lens and look at the negotiations with a new set of criteria for vetting consultants, vendors and potential candidates for elected office. If you are getting references, consider whether their references are all women, all men, all one category in general. You should ALWAYS have a co-ed set of references. You should ALWAYS ask a woman what they think and, here is the hard part, be observant. Notice nuance, breathing, discomfort. Be an active listener. From a moral standpoint, it’s the right thing to do. From a financial standpoint, you can no longer rule out a rape scandal hurting a man and the money of everyone around them. About time, am I right! I would also like to note that most men fall in this category in my experience, the well intentioned category, just not enough.
If you tolerate rapists or sexual harassers, if you use knowledge of impropriety to lord it over a woman as a power play, if you insulate or protect rapists, or if you say things like, “he’s a jerk, but he is OUR jerk,” you’re going to need to take a look at your priorities because once women start to dismantle assailants, you’re next. How precious it was to sit in waiting rooms seeing progressive actors state how they suspected their fellow man, Harvey Weinstein, was a harasser because he bragged about it, but they weren’t sure. How they claimed to not know what they were looking at.
Fun fact: they knew and they psychologically filed that behavior under normal and are now shocked that they did so. They are all undergoing a process of damage control and you should too, Mr. (or Ms.) Rapey McRapetolerater.
Also, if you put assailants near accusers as a power play, you are a gender terrorist and deserve the same heave-ho as the assailant. You are an accessory, and it may be time to scale down your presence. Take up knitting. Go on a meditation retreat and reflect on why you’re so mad at women. Just stop doing all of that which you are currently doing.
If you are a rapist, well, I may know, I may not know. Other people may know, they may not know. But, you can be sure of one thing, you should be afraid of people coming forward and you should scale down your leadership expectations.
You may think that your slicing and dicing and political piracy is going to pay off, that it’s your time to run. It’s not.
If you have ever raped a woman, including but not limited to violent assault, blurred lines of consent, drugging, coercion and so on, unfortunately for you the country is ready to support women. I recommend that you take your name off of any short list. I also recommend you not trying to confront the woman/women you assaulted to see if they told. Further, I recommend that you take note that I and many other women support each other. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Your act is like a bomb ready to detonate with no fixed timer. So don’t run for office if you’ve raped someone. Take the bench. Your time has passed with the rule of thumb, the binding of feet and so on. I would say turn yourself in, but feasibility is a consideration of all analysts.
All of that said, safely enjoy league. Treat women with respect whether they conduct themselves perfectly or not. All women deserve safety, not just the ones who button up to the neck. Preying on vulnerability does not excuse you from basic decency.