Sometimes it’s hard not to resort to insults and this is one of those times. Alyssa Milano has written a piece for Deadline explaining why she still supports Joe Biden even though the evidence as it stands now points in the general direction of him being guilty of sexual assault. It has the not terribly original title “Living in the Gray as a Woman.” You can probably imagine without even reading it how this piece is going to attempt to let Milano recede into uncertainty. The person who championed “#BelieveWomen” is now tap-dancing around epistemic uncertainty. But actually, what she’s written is so much worse than what you could imagine.
It starts with her central idea, her thesis, that women only always have a choice between, “between working with the very people who oppress us in order to have a chance at gaining power or not working with them, and staying under their thick, hairy thumbs.” Is the person with hairy thumbs Joe Biden? She could just say that but she doesn’t, not quite. She’s still collaborating with the enemy.
But almost immediately, she goes off the rails. Because while her argument is that the world is gray not black and white, she still has to justify her response to Brett Kavanaugh, not as gray but as absolutely clear.
Harvey Weinstein’s decades of rape were clearly wrong. Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assaults were clearly wrong. Brett Kavanaugh’s actions, told consistently over decades by his victim (and supported by her polygraph results), were clearly wrong.
Before we move on, notice three things about that sentence about Kavanaugh. First, she writes of Kavanaugh’s “victim” in the singular. We’re talking about Christine Blasey Ford here. The problematic accusations made by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick have been dropped from the story entirely.
Second, the phrase “told consistently over decades” is both a lie and a jab at Tara Reade. It’s a lie because Dr. Ford didn’t tell anyone her story for 30 years. And it’s a jab at Reade because the main line of attack on her credibility is that she came forward a year ago with a far less shocking claim about Biden touching her awkwardly. That’s true but shouldn’t the fact that 3 people recall her telling the full story in the mid-90s count for something? Doesn’t that show her allegations aren’t a recent invention?
Third, the evidence that makes Dr. Ford a case of black and white is…a polygraph test? Those tests you see in movies which generally aren’t admissible in court because they are unreliable? So if Tara Reade passes a polygraph and her friends pass a polygraph, would that make her story black and white too? Really?
Then we get to the part where Milano justifies not making a choice in this case because it’s just too gray.
Women are not afforded the gray. We are not allowed anything but the binary extremes. And then, we are pressured to turn on one another for making impossible choices. It’s bullsh*t.
Actually, what’s bullsh*t is the muddled thinking that produced this hypocritical essay. What’s bullsh*t is claiming Ford’s story was black and white. What’s bullsh*t is claiming Reade’s story is too for women like Milano. But she just keeps going. In the next paragraph she abandons the entire premise of #MeToo (women holding men publicly accountable) to avoid the burden of holding Joe Biden to account:
It’s not up to women to admonish or absolve perpetrators, or be regarded as complicit when we don’t denounce them.
The fact that other women aren’t willing to be consistent means Milano doesn’t have to be either.
Nothing makes this clearer than the women who are still supporting Joe Biden even with these accusations. Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed Biden and like me, continue to support him. Because it’s an impossible choice.
It’s not an impossible choice, just a terribly inconvenient one for Democrats.
It falls upon women to navigate within the system of men’s design to make pragmatic choices that we hope will lead us to a more equal future.
Forget all that noise about holding men accountable. The new standard is “pragmatic choices.”
I still support Joe Biden because I believe that’s the best choice for that future, and again it is not up to women to absolve perpetrators.
Translation: I’m the #MeToo queen but I’m sitting this one out.
The allegations against Joe Biden concern me, deeply.
So deeply that I’m gong to campaign for him and vote for him.
He’s a man I know, respect, and admire, and who I can’t picture doing any of the things of which he’s accused. But I’ve thought that before, and been wrong.
Translation: There’s a very strong chance he’s guilty.
And sexual assault is always wrong.
Translation: It’s wrong, but let’s be pragmatic about this.
This is the shitty position we are in as women but make no mistake: it’s not because of women. We have to suss out the one truth between two opposites, and either one puts us in an impossible position.
Translation: I feel really sorry for myself having to vote for this abuser. It’s impossible and yet I have clearly chosen his side not hers.
As far as his accuser, I want every survivor to have space to tell their story.
Tara Reade’s name never appears in this essay. She’s just “his accuser.” She’s a thing happening to Joe Biden.
But I also don’t want her to be fodder for the machine. And I honestly don’t know what’s next.
Translation: Don’t expect any support from me as you are consumed by “the machine.” Me and the other pragmatic women who support Joe Biden wish you the best! #NotReally
I want powerful men and women to continue to be held accountable for their bad actions.
Just not Joe Biden.
I want victims to be free to be heard.
Just not necessarily believed.
I want there to be an honest process of proving out accusations one way or the other.
But I have no position on whether Joe should open his Senate archives.
And I want to keep having the conversation.
I totally enjoy being the #MeToo slay-queen on Twitter and might come back to that if a Republican is accused, but for now I’m on his side. #MeTooPragmatism