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In politics, there is an inclination to defend a powerful and/or popular representative, no matter what. Andrew Cuomo, former governor of New York, was found guilty of sex crimes and charged with a misdemeanor for innapropriately touching a woman on Dec. 7, 2020. Cuomo has been accused of assaulting as many as 11 female employees. I believe Cuomo being charged signals a culture shift in the right direction.
Cuomo is just one of many politicians accused of sexual misconduct; among the accused are current President Joe Biden (Popularly known as Creepy Uncle Joe), Former NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Former Senator Al Franken, Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Former Representative John Conyers, Supreme Court Assistant Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Former NY governor Eliot Spitzer, and Former President Donald Trump, who has had 26 women accusing him of sexual misconduct.
It’s important that more politicians are being held accountable for their actions because there is no possible way that a person can sexually harass another and have the best interest of all Americans in mind. Predators are narcissistic, conniving, entitled, and manipulative. These people have a specific set of skills to get what they want, whether it be money or power, and so they rise to high rankings. At the same time, they cannot be trusted to make important decisions.
Although some have been charged, others continue to be free, and the process of coming forward is an intimidating one. Speaking out against a powerful official can have consequences like losing your job, losing the support of your inner circle, the stress of opening up a lawsuit, and having to relive your trauma — only to have everyone tell you you’re lying.
When Christine Blasey Ford came forward, revealing Kavanaugh’s assault on her when they were both high school students, many criticized her timing. They turned their attention to wonder why she hadn’t come forward sooner, rather than keep their attention on the fact that there was a potential predator about to be sworn in as a judge. On social media, people made memes about her 1982 school picture, where they claimed Kavanaugh could not have possibly assaulted her because she looked like a child.
The culture is changing, as victims like Brittany Commisso feel the support of the still powerful #MeToo Movement. With social media, more people feel empowered, as it makes it easier to call out predators and warn others so they may not fall victim. Author Farida D. frequently makes feminist posts on her Instagram, educating about what the patriarchy has made us believe about ourselves. Laws like Title IX creates a space where people can report sexual harassment in educational settings.
But it’s still unsafe for victims to come forward. Oftentimes, law enforcement only makes the situation worse, sometimes blaming the victim based upon clothing, inebriation or something else. Gayle King’s interview with FKA Twigs, who is filing a lawsuit against former partner Shia LeBeouf because of the abuse she endured, shows that the culture is still not fully changed. King asked her, “Why didn’t you leave?” a question that implies the victim is to blame for not only the duration of the abuse but the abuse itself. There are many other similar questions that imply the same things.
Why were you alone with them?
Why were you wearing that?
Why didn’t you tell anyone sooner?
Why didn’t you fight back?
The questions shouldn’t be for the victims, but for the perpetrators.
The culture is changing in a positive way, where we can both gently and firmly deal with these situations, as sensitive and serious as they are. Cuomo’s charges are a victory for the culture shift, showing that there are actual consequences to actions, regardless of who you are.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Mary Altaffe / AP News