I will not be able to vote for Biden in a general election

I will not be able to vote for Biden in a general election. It is not a question of being unwilling, but a question of being able. I’ll be traveling far away from the US when the election rolls around. I will have to remember it’s happening, print and mail in a ballot weeks before. Others will have to walk to a booth and stand in line.

Accordingto Adolph L Reed Jr and Cornel WestIn 1984, Biden joined with South Carolina’s arch-racist Strom Thurmond to sponsor the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which eliminated parole for federal prisoners and limited the amount of time sentences could be reduced for good behavior. He and Thurmond joined hands to push 1986 and 1988 drug enforcement legislation that created the nefarious sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine as well as other draconian measures that implicate him as one of the initiators of what became mass incarceration.” According to Reed and West, Biden enthusiastically supported so-called welfare `reform’, military interventions, and cutting both Medicare and Social Security. Meanwhile, Biden opposed reproductive rights and justice, particular abortion rights, actively supporting the Hyde Amendment. So much for pro-union, pro-worker, pro-poor, pro-women.

By humiliating and abusing Anita Hill, Biden put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Remember the Anita Hill hearing, where Biden satnext to next to Strom Thurmond, the Republican with whom he sponsored the Comprehensive Crime Control Act? Together, Thurmond, Hatch and Biden had collaborated on policies against the interests of women and criminally profiled communities.

At the hearing JC Alvarez, one of four witnesses, delivered a sensationalist and infantilizing attack on Anita Hill’s character, tearing apart Hill for being a loner and having differences with the other “girls”.

Ultimately Nancy Fitch’s statement of “zero probability” won the day as she described an impressive resume of academic achievements to bolster a claim of objectivity, acting to exclude any possibility that Hill’s claims could be on any continuum with truth. At the time academics preferred the language of probability to the language of truth as a more precise way to engage the idea that human witnesses and narratives arrive with built-in limits of interests, emotions, stakes, personal interests and desires. In saying “zero probability,” Fitch reinstated the idea of objectivity to exclude the testimony of Anita Hill as a big ‘zero’ and to insert her own as the unquestionable 100% truth. Fitch had no evidence of how the probability could have been zero. She did not need to. Hill was the guilty party as demonstrated by her failure to participate fully enough in girl talk. With Fitch’s pseudoscience as support, the myth of Hill as a liar sprouted wings and took flight. With Hatch on one side of Thurmond and Biden on the other, they all intoned “zero probability,” closing the conversation, excluding Anita Hill from the realm of probability, a spectacular and formal appearance of the gaslight.

Biden as the formal representative aka ‘champion of women’ failed to dismantle a misogyny party backed by ‘science.’ That women witnesses, including a highly educated woman of color, were brought in to support Thomas and attack Hill speaks volumes and represents the experiment of using implicitly essentialist constructions of identity to dismantle decolonizing interests. If Biden was not intrinsic to that project, he caved into it.

The current iterations of Biden’s sexual misconduct seem to have enhanced his popularity, perhaps because forgiving him re-starts a cycle of letting “old fashioned” behavior slide. It begins a resistance to the new forms of inculcation that #metoo has fought at great expense to instill. A mass of women and non-cis-male figures and voices daily risk social standing, jobs and safety to dismantle the constant and casual violence that has stolen so many different forms of life and autonomy. This gaslight will blink ever more powerfully if Biden gets the nomination.

If Biden wins, his presence in the White House would reinforce that cis-White men are ultimately forgivable, no matter how many people they harm, abuse, traumatize and actively or passively kill. His election would shift the style of violence from Trump’s “alpha” to Biden’s “beta” that hides and smooths rather than struts. A Biden election would close the loop between Beta and Alpha swapping of power.

If Biden got the nomination, I’m quite sure my PTSD and avoidant behaviors would kick in; I would be somewhere else, forgetting, asleep, not there, and not there even if I wanted to be, even with 1000 people shouting the importance at me. I do not believe I am alone in this.

Any other candidate currently in the Democratic running field is better than Biden. Personally, I think Warren is the best and most qualified. She aims to get the candidacy via policy rather than via the machine of the spectacle. Electing Warren, making ‘likeability’ or slickness irrelevant, would be the best way to dismantle the personality cult structures that beget toxic masculinity and Trump.

If Biden gets elected, a third term of a Trumpian figure in 2024 is assured. Maybe the killing machine makes a lateral move for 4 years. But it will go back to its distillations a little further on, as the public begins to integrate and metabolize that toxic masculinities are here to stay in power. Trump needs to be gotten out with difference, not sameness; not the beta-male version. Just as Trump has been the high card for capitalism, Biden will hold the position in its current form until the next Trump comes along.

If Biden gets the candidacy, I’m guessing anyone easily triggered will be in bed with the covers pulled over their heads that day. Even people who want to get out and vote for Anybody But Trump could easily be paralyzed by an unconscious that holds trauma and holds them from being able to act. I will not be able to vote for Biden, but for literally any other candidate in the field I will remember to mail in my ballot.

(Photo Credit: Al Jazeera / AP)

We really haven’t learned a thing, have we?

Every person has encountered a survivor of sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence. They are friends and family members, colleagues or acquaintances. More importantly, they are people with stories that illustrate pain, suffering, fear and, silence. Journalist Sheetal Dhir sums this poignantly, “I recently did a straw poll of the women in my life and realised that I know more survivors of sexual assault than I do mothers.” In some families, mine included, every woman has some experience with sexual assault and violence. It’s a reality that we cannot ignore or dismiss; the trauma is intergenerational. More importantly, it’s a fact that still makes men (especially men in power), scratch their head with confusion on what is considered acceptable behavior when interacting with women.

1 in 3 women in the US have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. For Black women, around 2 of 3 will experience sexual abuse by the age of 18. 2 of 3 incidences will go unreported (only 310 of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police), and for every 1 Black woman that reports, at least 15 do not. When they are reported, more than likely they are not taken seriously; it is a common erroneous comparison for many survivors of sexual violence.

Victim-blaming, intimidation, threat of employment termination, literaldenial of a memory of the assault happening. The rage many women felt when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony, in front of a panel of mostly white men hidden behind a woman prosecutor (for what is assumed to be a way to not make an ass of themselves in front of a sexual assault survivor in the age of the #MeToo Movement), was an acknowledgement that all women, all survivors have gone through the traumatization of their assault, and then the re-traumatization of not being believed. And for the response, the questioning of her memory, Dr. Ford gave a succinct but unbreakable response that only a professional in the field of psychology could; the neurotransmitter epinephrine, she replied, “Codes memories into the hippocampus, and so the trauma-related experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”

Memory remains clear-cut when we experience trauma. It flashes through the brain when one feels at their most vulnerable. It’s why women can remember their assault even years later when they move on. It’s why girls can remember their abuse when they were young children. It’s why Anita Hill faced a panel of 14 very skeptical white men, and was able to recount what then-nominee Clarence Thomas put her through.

The utter disbelief she endured by such men who thought that engaging in overtly sexual conversations in front of and directly to female colleagues, was not such a big deal. Considering that some of those same skeptical men were presiding over Dr. Ford’s testimony, albeit skulking behind the words of a female prosecutor, makes it more apparent that men have not learned a damn thing when it comes to sexual assault.

There’s data and research to prove why women don’t report. Psychologists, like Dr. Ford, can elaborate the fascinating science behind trauma-based memory; there are rape kits to prove it happened; confessions from the accused themselves. Mountains of evidence and personal stories from the survivors who have reported and were treated like whores and attention-seekers, and the ones that feared such a response and never made a sound. Believing the survivor is imperative, because of what they’re giving up just to come forward. We can no longer accept men in places of privilege who are given slaps on the wrists or sycophantic words of encouragement. What we need is punishment for the accused and something as simple as faith in the accuser. It won’t change everything, but it will be a start. It may even break the intergenerational chain of victimization that is passed between mothers and daughters, and teach sons that respect for women, informed consent and care for a woman’s choice, is a goddamn requirement.

Men, step up. We gave you the tools for learning at your disposal, now use them.

 

(Photo Credit 1: BBC News) (Photo Credit 2: Bill Snead / The Washington Post) (Photo Credit 3: New York Magazine)