In an article I previously wrote about sexual accusations in the political space entitled, “Al Franken Resigns: Democrats Fail the GOP Sexual Harassment Test. Again.” I outline my thought process as an individual and as a strategist when approaching accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. The following is the portion of that text that describes that though process:

As a woman of color living with disabilities, an assault survivor, a mom and a strategist I have used this process to make a number of difficult political decisions surrounding accusations of sexual harassment and assault. The following is a description of how I choose to answer the questions and the political action (or inaction) I would take based on those answers. I am not offering my answers as a guideline for everyone — there will unquestionably be disagreement on the path that I would follow. But I would argue that this is the strongest path the Democratic Party could take to protect itself from erroneous attacks by the Republican Party while still fulfilling their obligations to protect both women and the legal process.

If there is no violence, coercion or intimidation in the act presented in the accusation, I don’t believe that actions to unseat a Representative should be taken. This applies to both sides of the aisle.

If there is an accusation of sexual harassment that is coming from the GOP, is unsubstantiated and targets a Democratic opponent — I don’t believe action needs to be taken against the Democrat. Even if other Democrats come on board.

If there is an accusation of sexual harassment that is made by the GOP against a Democrat with substantiated evidence, an admission of guilt, a guilty verdict andor a confession — I still don’t necessarily believe that action should be taken to unseat that representative.

I personally believe that a call to act on removal must be weighted in terms of the least harm done — in the context as we know it. I personally believe that harassment is wrong. I know that it is criminal. I also don’t believe that the majority of crimes involving harassment warrant the removal of a Senator from office for two reasons:

1. It is dangerous to set a precedent in which anyone accused of sexual assault is subject to losing their job or suffering damages beyond those issued by the courts.

2. It is dangerous to hand over a Senate seat on the basis of a nonviolent crime to pussy grabbing pedophiles just because they demand it.

I would support a woman running to replace them when their term is carries out. And I would support other forms of action such as training — but I would not support removal. There are those that may draw that line differently. That is their choice. As a survivor and a mother, my choice rests on protecting all women, not leaving them unprotected in order to occupy the moral high ground.

Sexual assault is where I personally draw the line. I do not believe child molesters, pedophiles or rapists on either side of the aisle should occupy Congress. Especially under the current Administration. Depending on the severity of the allegation and the strength of the evidence presented against them, I would consider removing the representative from office prior to investigation. In the era of Project Veritas, though, I would not immediately move to remove a candidate. If there was an admission of guilt or a court ruling as such — I would support removal of the candidate no matter what side of the aisle they were on.

But again, those are my preferences. We are each entitled to our own political standards. But we have an obligation to be critical, consistent and transparent in matters of such great personal and political weight. We can’t apply a #MeToo Everyone is Guilty approach to sexual harassment and assault when these accusations are coming from the same networks of people responsible for lynching Emmett Till. We can’t apply an Everyone is Innocent approach in the times of Donald Trump and Roy Moore.

What we can do — what we have a responsibility to do — is analyze the accusations in consistent and contextually appropriate ways. We can acknowledge that we don’t have to believe all accusations presented through a political filter. We can acknowledge that personal belief in an accusation don’t necessarily equate to a belief that the prescribed political consequence should be applied. We can set clear standards of behavior that we are willing to accept as people and as a Party a hold those lines on the political battlefield.

What we can’t do is allow the Republican Party to weaponize the very real traumas of sexual assault survivors in order to carve out more power for themselves in the Senate. We can’t allow more women’s lives to be placed in more dangers by helping the Republican Party advance their agenda. We cannot leave the political battlefield to occupy the moral high ground.”

We must ask and answer difficult questions and reject efforts to oversimplify very complex issues that require political actions that can affect millions of people. We have to learn to protect women from trauma and reject exploiting the very real traumas of survivors for political purposes. We must learn to defend our political leaders from false accusations and seek appropriate actions when non-deceptive accusations are being presented. We must simultaneously recognize that predators have more rights in our legal system than women do, and that predators are willing to use that fact against us in political spaces to gain more power.

Personally, we must believe all women. Politically, we must protect all women.

We have a responsibility to do both. And by answering the questions above before taking political action, we can get to work.

To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy, visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/

For more articles related to recent sexual accusations, visit:

There’s Nothing Stopping the Next Weinstein

A Survivor’s Defense of Al Franken

The Real Reason Why We Can’t Just Believe All Women

Al Franken Resigns: Democrats Fail the GOP Sexual Harassment Test. Again.

A Strategist’s Alternative to “Believe All Women”

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