Jessica Valenti writes about the Aaron Coleman saga in the US.
The short version: Coleman, a Democratic candidate, “committed serious harassment and sexual misconduct when he was a teenager: Between the ages of 12 and 14, he bullied one girl so badly that she attempted suicide; extorted another classmate with a nude photo which he later sent to her friends and family (which legally amounts to distributing child pornography, among other things); and harassed a third young woman for months.” Credible allegations of more recent abusive behaviour including physical violence are emerging.
Coleman initially dropped out of the campaign but changed his mind after a lot of men offered their very vocal support: what you might call “himpathy”. Supposed defenders of women suddenly decided to throw women under the bus to defend the prospective politician.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, for example, tweeted last week that the 19-year-old was being “sabotaged” over “middle school misconduct” (which sounds nicer than revenge porn, I suppose), and questioned whether minors should be tried as adults and sentenced to life in prison — as if not being able to hold public office is somehow akin to incarceration.
…Men might want to take a pause and examine why they are now repeating the same argument Republicans trotted out during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings: that not elevating a man to public power is a life-ruining consequence for something they did when they were a minor.
What is most disturbing, though, is why these men — who, again, claim to be on the side of women — would be so eager to throw their considerable platforms and support behind Coleman in particular. As New York writer Sarah Jones put it, “there are plenty of working-class progressives who are not sex pests.”
Something very similar is happening here over the Alex Salmond trial. Supposedly progressive men have decided to ignore all the evidence that Salmond has a long track record of inappropriate behaviour; some have gone on to demonise the women who testified against him.
The concern is entirely for the perpetrator, not the victims.
So as men who claim to be our allies go on a tear about how feminism ruined a young man’s life, some food for thought: The young women who Coleman harassed will likely never run for office. It’s not exactly something you can do when nude photos of you at 12 years old have been spread around the internet.
…I wonder if the “progressive” men on a mission to convince the public that he deserved a second chance would spare a tweet or two for the girls who never got a first one.
I think this is very much part of it:
There are some — like the men who blamed the [#metoo] movement for ruining men’s careers — who don’t want a future that doesn’t tolerate harassment or assault. Too many men they know, or like (or see in the mirror every day) would be impacted.