Social media never fails to have loads of information with which to bombard our minds. Posts from other young women about school, the enneagram, and shopping sales are flooding this 20- something year old woman’s newsfeed as of late. Now, I’m not knocking anyone for making these posts. In fact, you’ll find me posting much of the same, but there’s something missing that has been painstakingly obvious to anyone who is listening to the news (fairly regularly) and is a female who was on social media in 2018.
As I wait for a woman, any woman, to say something on my newsfeed on any social media platform the past few weeks, I am left questioning if women, particularly young women are not owning their place on the chess board. In fact, it seems that we are blindly playing the role of a pawn.
Yes, I am going there. I am touching upon Tara Reade’s allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, and I am also referencing back to 2018 and Christine Blasely Ford’s allegations against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Here’s the thing, I am not going to lay into the press. There is much to be said about the coverage of Reade’s allegation compared to Ford’s and others, but many are already discussing this on both the left and right.
Ladies, I want to focus on you. In 2018, I was fresh out of college. The #MeToo movement and sexual assault prevention campaigns on college campuses were on a rise as I headed out into the great big world. Not too long after that, Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by President Trump to take a seat on the Supreme Court and not too long after that Christine Blasey Ford came forward with disturbing allegations against the President’s nominee. Almost immediately after this occurred my social media blew up with posts, specifically from my female peers, calling for Brett Kavanaugh’s removal from consideration of being on the Supreme Court.
Fast forward to 2020 and just as in 2018 a potential head of one of our three branches of government is accused of sexual assault. This time the accused is Vice President Biden who is seeking the presidency.
And do you know what I have seen on social media from peers? Nada. Nothing. Silence.
According to RAINN, “the majority of sexual assaults happen under the age of 30.” Also, RAINN found that women in college between the ages of 18-24 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted and women of the same age who do not attend college are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
This is a problem. Sexual assault is something my peers were rightly raising awareness of in 2018. But where is the concern now? Why aren’t there posts galore concerning Reade’s allegations and her story? It is odd considering the numbers. According to an NPR article from October 2018 in the midst of Ford’s testimony that 45% of people believed Ford was telling the truth. In an article from the Chicago Tribune on May 22 of this year, covering the curious departure of Reade’s lawyer, he clarified that his departure was, “by no means a reflection on whether then-Sen. Biden sexually assaulted Ms. Reade.” Here is the kicker, “adding that he was among the 55% of Americans who believe her, according to a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll.” According to these polls, 10% of more people find Reade’s story to be trustworthy during the middle of investigations yet- crickets.
I get it. We are amid a pandemic, but I also do not necessarily buy that if what happened in 2018 was occurring now that it would not get more attention than Reade’s story is now. A Teen Vogue author, Jaclyn Friedman, has highlighted similar concern as well in a recent article, afraid much of it is due to the lack of a cultural push and that unwittingly women are continually being used as pawns for political gain. Chessmaster Philidor said, “…to play the pawns well; they are the soul of chess: it is they which uniquely determine the attack and the defense, and on their good or bad arrangement depends entirely the winning or losing of the game.” You can see how pawns are pivotal for winning the game of chess and how easily disposed they are to win.
You are not disposable. Women, I do not believe you should ever be a means to an end.
This is not a battle cry against Joe Biden, who will likely be the Democrat Party’s Presidential nominee. This is not a plea to take Tara Reade’s side blindly or take her side at all. I am not even going to take the time to list out her case, because I think it is important that you go and research it yourself. I believe that the accused, whether or not I like them or believe them deserve to experience due process under the law, while I believe alleged victims should always be heard, and that their allegations should be investigated to the best of law enforcement’s abilities.
This is me imploring women to dig deeper before jumping on bandwagons. Whether “bandwagoning” takes the form of posting what everyone else is or whether it looks like silence because no one else has spoken up on the issue. Just because the graphics being posted are cute doesn’t mean they are pointing to truth. We are smarter than that, right? Just because no one else is speaking out about a situation does not mean it’s not worth discussing. We are more capable of digging for truth than that, right? The point that desperately needs to be made ladies is that regardless of what others are doing, you can never be free of being a pawn until you find your own voice and then use it. That doesn’t mean finding your own voice will result in you believing Reade over Biden. It just means you will at least think about it and search for truth just as we did in 2018 when the world was telling us to.
#MeToo and #BelieveWomen rings hollow when only certain women’s stories are covered, and others are not. I do not mean covered by journalists. I mean covered by us- the college students, the young professionals, the high school students- the everyday American woman. Women, survivors, and the truth deserve better from us.
Written by Hannah Bunch