Trusting women isn’t a question of political party, it’s a question of personal integrity

Trusting women isn’t a question of political party, it’s a question of personal integrity
© Getty

When I say that I trust women, I mean that I undeniably, unequivocally trust women. I trust women to understand their health care options and to choose what is right for them. I trust women when they say #MeToo, and I trust them when they accuse men of sexual assault and harassment. Even when these men are powerful, and even when these men have fought for progressive, even feminist, values.

I wish I could say that my opinion was a popular one. Unfortunately, our country has a long way to go in terms of trusting women. Though this recent spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations have showed that women’s voices do matter, we have hundreds of years to make up for women’s voices being disregarded, disenfranchised and silenced.

ADVERTISEMENT
From Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer, in the past several weeks many powerful men have rightly lost their jobs and their reputations because we are choosing to trust the brave women who have come forward with their stories. This reckoning is long overdue, and it sparks hope among people like me who are fighting every day for women’s right to be heard, to be respected and to make their own choices.

 

But on Capitol Hill, this growing willingness to hold men accountable for serial sexual misconduct is disappointingly lopsided. Democrats have shown that they believe the women who stepped forward with sexual harassment allegations about Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenCongress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Senate approves bill reforming Congress's sexual harassment policy Kamala Harris to keep seat on Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep.  John ConyersJohn James ConyersBrenda Jones sworn into House for final weeks of 2018 GOP approves rule for Don Young Michigan New Members 2019 MORE, Jr. (D-Mich.) this week. With pressure from within their own party — and leadership from female lawmakers — both men have been forced to step down from office.

Meanwhile, across the aisle, not only has Roy Moore — the Republican running for Alabama’s open Senate seat with a long list of allegations of preying on teenage girls — refused to step down.

This week, the RNC reinstated their support for his campaign, and the president himself — the leader of his party — recorded a robocall for Moore, helping get a serial abuser of young women into the Senate.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be this surprising, given that the president himself is accused by many women of sexual assault. This didn’t stop him from winning the Republican nomination, their votes in the election and the support of Republican lawmakers for his xenophobic, regressive policy agenda. Or standing behind his lies and policies now.

It’s clear that Republicans simply do not trust women — not when it comes to accusations of sexual assault and harassment, and not when it comes to making choices about their own bodies.

The Democratic Party is far from perfect when it comes to trusting women — their willingness to throw abortion rights under the bus earned my contempt just a few months ago. But in these recent weeks, Democrats have been courageous enough to say three small, but incredibly meaningful, words: “We believe you.”

It shouldn’t be too much to expect our elected officials not to assault, harass or prey on women. It shouldn’t be too much to ask to expect our elected officials — regardless of party — to call for the removal of their colleagues once a clear pattern of serial abuse is discovered. We are asking for our voices to be heard and to be trusted. Simply put, Republicans are failing American women.

Trusting women isn’t a question of political party, it’s a question of personal integrity. But if Republicans choose to ignore the voices of women now, I can assure them they will hear us in the ballot boxes in November. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can trust women to tell our stories, to make our own choices, and to rise up and make ourselves heard.

Julie Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation. Trust Women opens clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their healthcare. You can find her on Twitter @julieburkhart.