Sunday, May 17, 2020

Danni Askani replying to a PBS reporter

Danni Askani:

 Lisa - thank you for this journalism bit it has serious problems and furthers many misconceptions about sexual harassment and sexual violence and it’s deeply troublesome regardless of the allegations / person involved - I am going to post a thread responding to these gaps ... 
mentions 1. Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (Rape, Assault, Domestic Violence, and Stalking) are about POWER - not about a persons belief in if women are equal or not. Your article hinges on “He treated women equally” but never addresses how he used his power interpersonally. 
mentions 2. It is a well researched fact in social science studies (happy to link you) - that men who engage in sexual violence tend to do so in sophisticated ways - ie: targeting people who are likely to be disbelieved if they come forward. And alter their public behavior to do so. 
mentions 3. Your article doesn’t look at other key questions like: Did Biden ever yell at staff, did he raise his voice, did he publicly scold, humiliate, or berate staff? Did he ever have public disagreements with women who were his peers or who had power over him? 
mentions 4. Your article furthers Rape Culture in that - you seem to be seeking to undermine or confirm the veracity or minute aspects of Tara Reeds claims (where she said the assault happened, what Biden’s “average routine” was, that office staff don’t attend campaign events) ... 
mentions 5. This approach 1. Asks the reader to believe that “the average of all days is the same as every day.” As if to say there were no exceptions to these norms. I am less interested in taking apart the procedural steps of the “who, when, where” of 30 years ago. 
mentions 6. On balance - I appreciate that you raise that survivors of harassment and violence experience “poor work performance” - I wish you had cited journal articles, studies or experts - and not her attorney. The subjective opinions of a male co-worker seem questionable to me. 
mentions 7. In all of this reporting - which is excellent, I really truly wish that 1. You had spoke to and included professional and experts who study sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and included FACTS for readers to provide education and context. 
mentions 8. By making this a “He said / She said - now let’s interview the hundreds of people who believe HIM” you skip past the scientific fact that 1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence in their life time 85% will know the perpetrator. Before diving into subjective recollections 
mentions In 2017 - I was the Executive Director of an LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 Rights org in Seattle when the country’s first openly gay mayor Ed Murray - a powerful Democratic civil rights hero - was accused by 3 men of sexually abusing them as youth in the 1980s. I wrote this.
mentions I was roundly attacked relentlessly and called a “traitor” by other LGBT community leaders privately - publicly no one - even women politicians - would speak out publicly in support of survivors coming forward:
mentions As I had predicted in April - a total of 5 men came forward before Ed Murray resigned - the final straw being his cousin and aunt coming forward - for months he attacked his accusers with his public office and denied the allegations.
mentions Almost all journalists in Seattle save a very few published story after story recounting and debating the specifics of the events - when did the men report, why didn’t social services prosecute him, and why had this not come up sooner. But that did a total disservice to survivors 
mentions A more helpful approach in my opinion is to before regurgitating people’s subjective recollections - is to lay out for readers and the public how incredibly common sexual harassment and violence IS. Frankly - all things being equal, it is way more likely to have happened than not 
mentions I say that 1. Ignoring the people, politics, motivations, and looking instead at the power dynamics in play. 2. Given the overwhelming scientific and population data and profile of perpetrators. Again - looking for patterns of power / anger / abuse vs. “proof beyond doubt”. 
mentions There is more often than not, no way to prove or disprove any given set of allegations. Most survivors are wishing to be heard, acknowledged, and to make other people aware of how abuse of power happens. This is a key aspect of healing - reclaiming power, agency, & narrative. 
mentions We will never move the ball forward to what I believe is your and all of our collective goal - a world where sexual harassment and violence in the workplace IS unthinkable - if we don’t first start every story by citing the science, research, and facts of how common it IS and who 
mentions And who perpetrators of sexual violence & sexual harassment are most likely to be! ie: someone you know, someone who is respected, someone who has power, and someone who has opportunity to harm a survivor and be able to frame them as lying. That is what science says! 

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