Have you always wondered what “Believe women” really means?
It doesn’t mean “Automatically believe what women say all the time.” It doesn’t mean “Women are incapable of lying and you should treat us as such.”
It points out that when it comes to issues related to gender and violence—abuse, rape, harassment—society’s knee-jerk reaction is to side with the abuser, who is most often a man. Right now, when a woman speaks her truth, people constantly work to see how she's the liar, while the man, the abuser, is not treated with the same scrutiny. Everything and anything is used to discredit her, because we’re working from the assumption that she is lying, and all we have to do is find out why.
Take Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), for example:
How does Hatch know that Kavanaugh is honest? How does he know that Kavanaugh is not being deceitful and not straightforward? Sen. Hatch doesn’t. Yet he’s making the decision to listen to one side and use it to make judgments about Christine Blasey Ford. Perhaps if he thought to “believe women,” he’d at least want to hear from her himself before basically calling her a confused liar.
Siding with Kavanaugh completely ignores the fact that Kavanaugh has every reason to lie. Ford has nothing to gain from coming forward. She already has been working on healing from the trauma; she didn’t want to divulge it as a public duty. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, is closer to one of the cushiest and most powerful jobs in America. How is that factor not considered in whether to take Brett’s words at face value?
Someone who is capable of sexual assault is capable of lying. As I wrote in The New York Times years ago, “Yes, a tiny number of people lie about being raped, but almost all rapists lie about raping.”