Writing for New York Magazine's The Cut this week, Rebecca Traister raised a delicate issue, one that simmers in the minds of many Democratic women. Traister questions just how many times we must go through these grand national revelations of male misbehavior. Last year it was Trump talking about grabbing women by the pussies whenever he wanted. It's a right, Trump explained, of powerful men. And then America elected the pussy grabber president -- because he promised to give America to the small group of Christians demanding a theocracy for America. Yes. To add insult to injury, America's most supposedly devout Christians made the pussy grabber president of America.
Trump is not an isolated incident; nor is Harvey Weinstein, writes Traister. These are not unique stories of sexual harassment or sexual assault. We must come to grips with a "nuts and bolts infrastructure of gender injustice that has permitted generations -- centuries -- of this behavior, and that has worked again and again to beat back any resistance to it."
Former senator and vice president Joe Biden was the architect of the Violence Against Women Act and most recently a voice in the movement to address campus sexual assault. While many of us respect Joe Biden for all the good he has done for Americans, we also view Biden as deeply complicit in his role of "protecting the powerful" while allowing the shaming of Anita Hill for speaking truth to power. Biden silenced other witnesses who wanted to corroborate Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas in his supreme court nomination hearing. In fact, then-senator Joe Biden, who led the all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee in 1991 initially ignored Anita Hill and her desire to testify against Thomas as being fit for a position on the US Supreme Court. Traister writes:
Once Hill did appear before the Biden-led committee, she was interrogated about her sexual proclivities, called an “erotomaniac” and depicted as lonely and desperate (then-conservative writer David Brock famously referred to her as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty”). Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, didn’t even object to Senator Orrin Hatch’s suggestion that Hill had copied one of her stories about Clarence Thomas from The Exorcist. Most crucially, however, Biden declined to call three other women who were willing to testify in support of Hill, including Angela Wright, a woman who had worked with Thomas and had previously complained of his having pressured her to date him and his comments about her breast size.
Biden refused to allow any of these women to tell their stories. Thomas was confirmed and has been a foe of women's rights ever since. Traister reminds us that the Thomas effect -- facilitated by Joe Biden -- has effects that go far beyond women's rights.
The Electoral College and voter suppression — enabled by the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, enabled by Clarence Thomas, enabled by Joe Biden, enabled by the disproportionately white and male makeup of the ruling class — worked to elect a man who ran on the promise to create even more oppressive mechanisms: Muslim bans, and walls, the gutting of Title IX provisions, and the birth-control mandate. Those objecting once again have little ability to challenge them.
This sad reality of the impact of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on democracy in America is not only the work of Republicans. It's the work of the good Democratic leader Joe Biden, friend of the working man and, at least in the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court, a totally complicit member of the male boys club -- a fact that would have become brutally relevant again in his desire to primary Hillary Clinton in 2016. Yours truly was ready to rumble because complicity wears only one face. There's no free pass for Democratic men.