I sat out the Women’s March because Tamika Mallory supports the man who raped me

During her interview on a podcast that aired three days after my story broke, Mallory was asked about me and my allegation of being raped by Russell Simmons in 1994. In her response to the host, she made it clear that she did not believe survivors. “Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if I believe in it or not, and I’m not going to sit here and say that I believe all of it be… because I’ve seen some things in this industry and in the music industry that, you know I know that there have been people who have lied.” She emphasized her continued close friendship with the embattled mogul and said that she had directly asked him if the allegations were true and that he had denied them. In addition, she fell back on the well-worn, “Well, I wasn’t there and don’t know what really happened,” trope, adding, “I do believe that every woman who comes forward, that their… their claim needs to be substantiated and it needs to be, someone needs to answer for what they say. You know, none of us has to be so quick to try to protect a friend or a family member that we ignore the claims and the pain of women.” Her response was all over the map, and not one that would be expected from the co-president of the Women’s March.

As I listened to Mallory’s response, I felt profound hurt and disappointment. Quite frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I then thought of the other women who have accused Simmons of sexual assault and was incensed that she did not believe that all our stories of victimization were true. Her attempt to defend her position on Simmons was a slap in the face to all survivors of sexual violence. As I listened to her interview a second time, I thought about the people who have been assaulted and wondered how they would feel knowing that one of the chief organizers of one of the largest public demonstrations in U.S. history was on the record making excuses for the actions of a credibly accused rapist. This isn’t an issue of “misspeaking.” Her refusal to condemn Farrakhan and choosing to stand by Simmons isn’t a mistake. We are all human and prone to mistakes but if we repeat a behavior, it’s a habit. Mallory’s views are completely at odds with the goals of the Women’s March and the women’s movement.

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