The whirlwind of the patriarchy moves at such a dizzying pace these days that its hard to find time to be upset about something before some new famous man you grew up loving (looking at you Sylvester Stallone) disappoints you. But I’d like to take a little breather and talk about someone who was horrifying us only a few short months ago, although as a woman in 2018 it honestly feels like I have aged years since then.
Remember that fleshy orange guy who confessed to sexually assaulting women? Little update for those of who you aren’t following – he’s the President of the United States.
Lets talk about Republican candidate and weird uncle you shouldn’t wear shorts around, Roy Moore. Moore was accused by seven women of sexual harassment, one of whom alleged that he assaulted her when she was 14. I place emphasis on the number of women who have accused him not to suggest, as Emma Thompson put it, that it isn’t awful when ‘it happens to one woman, once’, but to draw attention to the seeming necessity for an avalanche of pain before any kind of action is taking. One woman accusing you is a nuisance; seven is a serious PR problem.
The Roy Moore situation is serious for a variety of reasons, the most poignant being that he may face no legal ramifications for preying on schoolgirls, although he recently emailed his supporters begging them for money to fund his court battle. My enjoyment of men living in a world with consequences was sadly, short lived. This column is not long enough to unpick the psychology behind all of this, but I think its important to focus the ideology that Moore’s bid for the Senate perpetuates.
The idea that women use sexual assault accusations to bring down powerful men is the most laughable thing I’ve heard since a male peer at my university asked if my degree was ‘in shopping.’ Anyone heard of Donald Trump? Any one? Remember that fleshy orange guy who confessed to sexually assaulting women? Little update for those of who you aren’t following – he’s the President of the United States. He seems to be doing fine, career wise.
Moore’s bid for the Senate and Donald Trump’s and wider Republicans’ sustained support of him seems to suggest an ideology that is horrifying on all kinds of levels. The general Republican line (and I say general as some politicians have rightfully condemned him) split into two main factions. Either he is innocent and therefore all those women are lying, or a Democrat would have been inherently worse for Alabama and America as a whole.
To imply that all those women are lying is representative of a building block of patriarchal oppression: women are to be seen and not heard. Women are infantilised, we lie for attention, we misremember things, we overreact. The White House’s official line on Trump’s past of sexual assault is that the women are liars. Trump simply extended this logic to Moore. Trump’s existence and the validity his powerful position gives him allows men to act in a similarly despicable way and never suffer any ramifications.
Amazingly, the second argument for Moore’s bid was just as bad. Are we really at a point where people can claim Democrats are as bad as paedophiles? Even if we take an insane leap of logic and assume that this is the case, who are Republicans like Roy Moore better for? It can’t be women, clearly, and that’s half the population. When these women and their testimonies are sacrificed for some kind of utilitarian end, either by assuming they are lying or by assuming that their truth is irrelevant, we have to ask whose greater good are they being sacrificed for?
Moore didn’t win. We can look back on his bid with the self satisfied relief of a population who are constantly balancing on a tightrope between civilised society and a sexist, racist political arena that seems to be constantly frothing with ill concealed aggression. But, it’s vital to note that two thirds of white women voted for Moore. As a white woman myself, I don’t just find this embarrassing, I find it baffling. I can’t understand why white women would rather keep our racial privilege than raise our gender as a whole, but we must recognise those black men and women who prevented Moore from winning, illustrating the racial facet of the patriarchal blood diamond.
In this kind of racially charged, hyper-masculine political environment, women are not just collateral damage, we are sacrificial lambs, trampling each other in our scramble away from the falling blade. In Trump and Moore’s America, women are not factored into the equation, we fall outside of the realms of political concern. When we cease to be meek mothers and daughters, we become witches to be drowned.