Time's Up CEO resigned after her son was accused of sexual harassment

Time’s Up is an advocacy group founded in 2018 to fight sexual harassment. Back in October Lisa Borders left the WNBA to become the CEO of the group, but last week she resigned citing a family issue. Initially, the nature of that issue wasn’t clear and then the LA Times reported that Border’s adult son had been accused of sexual harassment. From the LA Times:

Borders, 61, did not explain the circumstances behind her abrupt exit, which came after just four months on the job. But the Los Angeles Times has learned that Borders suddenly found herself at odds with the core mission of Time’s Up because of a desire to stand by a man — her son — facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Borders stepped down four days after a 31-year-old Santa Monica woman alleged, in a Facebook post, that Borders’ 36-year-old son had been sexually inappropriate with her. People familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment said Borders, formerly the president of the WNBA professional basketball league and a former senior executive at Coca-Cola Co., quickly brought the allegations to the attention of the Time’s Up board. The group — which seeks equality and safety in the workplace for women — and Borders, these people said, soon recognized that she was in an untenable position.

Celia Gellert told The Times that Borders’ son, a photographer, podcast host and life coach named Garry “Dijon” Bowden Jr., offered her a “healing session.” She said she was surprised and felt “violated” when, she alleged, he touched her genitalia, kissed her neck and brushed his erect but clothed penis against her body during the session

Gellert told at least two of her friends about the incident before saying anything publicly. One of those friends told the Times, “It is so ironic to me that his mother is … was leading this organization that was supposed to be about protecting women.”

But as David French noticed, Borders didn’t simply resign because the allegation itself would have been ironic or created a PR problem for Time’s Up. She resigned, in part, because she planned to “proactively” defend her son against the allegation:

Borders made it clear to Time’s Up leadership that she planned to proactively defend her son, someone close to the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, and so spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post. This created a difficult tension within the organization, whose mission revolves around believing survivors of sexual abuse.

In other words, Borders would have a hard time spreading the #MeToo message (believe women) when she was simultaneously working to defend her son against a woman’s accusation. Here’s Borders just two weeks ago describing Time’s Up as the civil rights struggle of this generation.

“I have often said that Time’s Up is the civil rights movement of the 21st century,” Borders said. She continued, “It is women who are disenfranchised. We have been for a very long time. We continue to not stand necessarily on equal footing with our male peers in any environment.

“So today as a society we need to acknowledge that women have been treated as a disenfranchised class. We need to address it changing laws and then we need to act on those laws.”

I wonder if her feeling have changed now that her son is the accused. I mean that sincerely. I’ve written dozens of posts about various #MeToo related topics and many of those have been sympathetic to people who appear to be genuine victims of abuse by scumbags like Harvey Weinstein. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement in this area. But I also feel the movement has been far too quick to dismiss concerns about due process for the accused, especially on college campuses, in the rush to believe all women. We saw that again when Judge Kavanaugh was accused of rape and other crimes with no real corroboration. There were lots of people at the time saying he’d been tarnished by the accusations even if they couldn’t be proven and so should be replaced with someone else. I don’t guilt by accusation is a good process to adopt.

Anyway, it would be very interesting to see what Borders has to say about this now that she has some skin in the game. Unfortunately, I suspect she’ll be under tremendous pressure not to say anything that might be perceived as critical of the movement she helped lead. That’s a shame because a real conversation about this would be better than more one-dimensional activism.