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Common Dreams - January 16, 2020

"So what are people like Tanden, Doyle, and Donegan really saying when they use language previously reserved for victims of sexual abuse and harassment in this context? They're certainly not saying to believe and support sexual assault victims. The concept of womanhood has become abstracted for them, the meaning of the language has been lost. They're actually telling us what type of woman we should believe and in what context, which is exactly what "believe women" and similar language is meant to do away with."

This week, Elizabeth Warren released a statement confirming that Bernie Sanders told her a woman couldn't win the presidency. We know some liberal feminists have a tendency to weaponize trauma for personal gain, and what we've seen as a result of Warren's statement is further perversion of the language of abuse and victimhood in a context it was never meant to be used.

"Believe women," says Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress and a former close advisor to Hillary Clinton. You might recall that Tanden outed a #metoo victim during an all-staff meeting, to the shock of those in attendance.

Sady Doyle, a liberal feminist "opinion leader," used similar language when tweeting about the situation, stating Elizabeth Warren is the "ONLY PERSON in a position to say whether what [Bernie] did was sexist." The force with which this is communicated almost acts as a distraction from the absurdity of extending the concept of letting victims speak their truth to include the situation at hand.

Moira Donegan, self described "angry feminist writer" and opinion columnist, took it a step further and broke down the situation into several now-familiar liberal feminist tropes, all of which have been misappropriated over and over for cynical purposes without care for how this impacts the people this language was originally meant to help. Nothing in this situation even approaches a "sexual assault allegation." Material retaliation would normally be used to describe employers retaliating against women who report harassment, for example. Gaslighting, a term which has become utterly meaningless, is meant to describe an abuse and manipulation tactic which causes a victim to question their own sanity, not a disagreement between politicians. Even victim blaming is invoked, in a case where there is arguably no victim. It is morally reprehensible to imply this is sexual assault or anything approaching interpersonal abuse.

Let's be clear: we're talking about two public figures in similar positions of power, discussing in a public forum what was intended to be a private conversation among peers. It is stripped of context. Did Sanders perhaps comment on Trump's misogynistic tactics that might demean a woman candidate and create a difficult situation? Was he referring to sexist attacks on previous woman candidates? We don't know. The conversation was leaked in only the vaguest terms, seemingly by the Warren campaign in an attempt to make Sanders look bad(apologies for "inventing nefarious motivations" about Warren's increasingly desperate campaign). ...
Read full commentary at Common Dreams