Repping the Old Boys Club

I could go on at some considerable length about the President’s gross hypocrisy when it comes to domestic abuse…but that would hardly be breaking new ground. No, my concern is what his astonishingly one-sided ignorance represents and how it’s reflected through American society. Despite a heightened consciousness of the issue spurred by the #MeToo movement, rich and powerful men are hardwired to come down on the side of…wait for it…rich and powerful men.

I know, right? Who could have seen that coming?

The reflexive rush to fawn over the accused while blithely ignoring the accuser(s) is indicative of just how deeply ingrained this prejudice is. Collectively, we’re quick to believe men when they proclaim their innocence…and far less willing to believe women accusing men of domestic abuse. We take men at their word even as we demand conclusive proof from women. Men are calm and rational, while women are emotional and overreactive.

In too many cases, men are smart and careful enough to avoid leaving clues which might convict them- either in a court of law or the court of public opinion. In most cases where abuse is alleged, there’s no physical evidence- no pictures, no paper trail, nothing that would lead back to the man. It ends up being a “he said, she said” situation, which means a woman is far less likely to be taken seriously than a man proclaiming his innocence.

Somehow, we need to get to a point where we understand what it takes for a woman to come forward with an accusation of domestic abuse. It requires a degree of courage most of us will never need or understand. Is it possible that some women make up accusations in order to get revenge for a partner spurning them? Of course; it’s an imperfect world…but that shouldn’t make us less likely to take women seriously.

For generations, our society has given men the benefit of the doubt while requiring women to bear the burden of proof. Women are expected to demonstrate the veracity of their allegations; all men have need do is proclaim their innocence.

Yes, some accusations may well be false, but this is a case of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. We can no longer treat women claiming domestic abuse as the byproduct of some sort of fever dream. We need to stop defaulting to accepting men at their word and dismissing women’s accusations out of hand. “I’m innocent” should no longer ipso facto be good enough.

Until misogynists like Donald Trump are roundly condemned for transparently and reflexively coming down on the side of men accused of domestic abuse, there can be little hope of honestly tackling the problem. We need to find a way to change hearts and minds, to validate women who’ve already suffered enough. It’s time to stop the hypocrisy.

We’re better than this…aren’t we??

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