Elias Atienza is a history junior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Ever since the Weinstein allegations came out this October, there has been an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations. These allegations have affected people in positions of power and influence. From actor Kevin Spacey to Senator Al Franken, these stories caused us to a reexamination of how we look at political figures and survivors. To me, it seems we are now more willing to survivors and sympathize with their struggle.
Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), only one of every three cases of sexual assault is reported. Seven in 10 rapes are committed by someone the survivor knows. Survivors worry that reporting a case might cause retaliation or affect their families. There is also the dread of not being believed.
It’s disgusting that Republicans who believe the victims of President Bill Clinton and Representative John Conyers are so hesitant to believe the victims of Senate candidate Roy Moore and President Donald Trump.
Breitbart and Trump’s feverent base are eager to point out liberal offenders while glossing over the accusations against Republican politicians. Trump’s most loyal supporters throw excuses out for Trump and Moore. Despite Trump admitting in a video that he groped women without their consent (a statement chalked up to so-called “locker room talk”) many conservatives dismiss the behavior. They’ll disparage the survivors and accuse them of wanting to derail his political campaign. They even dig up details about the survivors’ personal lives and character assassinate these individuals to cast doubt on their allegations.
Even those who believe the survivors of who brought allegations against Moore, such as Governor Kay Ivey, continue to advocate for him simply because of politics. Christians who vote based on their religious beliefs are willing to tolerate this anti-Christian behavior. As a Christian, it disgusts me that we have fallen so far that we ignore the character of our politicians. People shouldn’t vote for someone who holds views opposing their own, but they shouldn’t vote for the so-called “lesser of two evils” either.
Some Democrats are able to come to terms with their party’s offenders. Even though it took twenty years, Bill Clinton is finally facing his comeuppance with Juanita Broaddick, and Democrats have called for the House Ethics Committee to launch investigations into Al Franken’s and John Conyer’s actions.
But still, many high-ranking Democrats are unable to accept the truth of with their colleagues’ actions. Rep. Nancy Pelosi called Conyers an “icon” before calling for him to resign. The number three Democrat in the House, Rep. James Clyburn, suggested that our elected officials shouldn’t be held to the same standards as us. I’ve talked about how we need trust in our elected officials before. Saying that they shouldn’t be held to the same standards as an American citizen is a quick way to dismantle said trust.
The flurry of rape allegations is confused further by the few but famous false sexual assault cases. Some examples are The University of Virginia story that Rolling Stone had to retract, the Duke University case and other well-known cases. Emmitt Till, a 14 year old boy, lost his life in 1955 because of a woman lying about his actions.
However, that does not mean we should allow these exceptions to become the rule. Most sexual assault allegations are true whether or not we realize it. That’s why when someone accuses another person of sexual assault, I will believe them because the statistics are in their favor. As those in Hollywood, Washington and other places of power continue to scramble to respond, I will continue to encourage those who come forward and reveal the evils that we’ve tolerated for far too long.
Both sides are hypocrites, but liberals are more likely to face their demons. Hopefully both sides can put aside their tribalism and condemn those who sexually assault people.