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Should the argument be “Believe women” or “Believe all women?”

So let’s talk without judgment, reprisal, condemnation or rancor. Let’s talk with the goal of clarity and better understanding. Let’s talk because too many people whisper the right things, out of fear, and boldly shout the wrong. Let’s talk to bring us closer together instead of constantly pushing us apart.

Are we to embrace the mantra, “Believe women!” Or should the concept be elevated to the commitment to “Believe ALL women!” The latter seems to be the more popular many believe, as claims of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault are often seen to be taken on face value.

Some are comfortable with the notion that the allegation is validation; that women would not accuse men of doing something that they did not in fact do. The commonly held logic is there would be no conceivable rationale for a female to subjugate herself to the certain scrutiny that often follows.

To be certain, men behaving badly is as old as the dirt from which humankind was extracted. “Boys will be boys” has too long been an escape route charted by male oppressors and, unfortunately, facilitated by too many female enablers who may not fully appreciate their worth.

In my world, women aren’t equal. They are far superior. The evidence is so compelling that I won’t go into it in this brief discourse. Suffice it to say that I shudder to think of what kind of world, nation, culture we would be if not for the steadfast diligence, integrity, talent, compassion, and intellect of women. 

That having been said, do we dare believe ALL women? I submit to you that not even all women, believe all women. 

We live in a nation of hypocrisy. How else can you explain arguably the strongest and most qualified presidential candidate in history, who happened to be female, losing handily to a failed entrepreneur, liar, misogynist, racist, pathological liar least qualified for the task? 

It still baffles me that 54 percent of white women voters opted to plunge into the orange dungeon rather than break through that glass ceiling. Those who think I’ve gotten off course, and that the 2016 presidential election and the topic of sexual harassment, abuse and assault are different conversations, are either naïve or intentionally being intellectually dishonest. 

Just think, the male victor in that fateful presidential race still has more than two dozen female accusers out there. Despite those charges, that include rape, he remains a powerful political force for right-wing conservatives and closet moderate/liberal backers, as he plots 2022 and 2024 potential election mayhem, cavalierly moving about as though more than 20 female accusers don’t exist, with both public and media sanction.

Clearly, the message is not to believe these particular women or worse yet, to conclude that their hurt doesn’t matter.

Not even many celebrities have it like that. Andrew Cuomo has rightfully been erased from promising political possibilities as a result of his indiscretions. Bill Cosby was only freed from prison on a legal technicality. R. Kelly may be the hardest celebrity to fall from grace, ever. 

Still, 45 remains the man who would be king (or kingmaker) in the U.S. with no accountability for a multitude of serious accusations. Hypocrisy stinks. May tongues cleave to the roof of the mouths of any who accommodate such dire offenses while in the next breath uttering “believe all women.”

This week news reports said that 80-year-old Pulitzer prize-winning songwriter and recording artist Bob Dylan heard allegations that in 1965 he abducted and assaulted a 12-year-old girl. The veracity of that assertion is unknown. What is certain is that the lives of both the accused and accuser are changed forever.

This is dead serious. Males who violate women are not men. They are miscreants who deserve the most severe punishment conceivable. 

But it is essential to the character of justice that evidence supports charges. All of us are flawed. Women can lie, just like men. Women can have ulterior motives, just like men. Never forget the tragedy of Emmett Till or countless other falsely-accused lynching victims.

Hear ALL women. Believe the truth.

Finally, no man should be exempt from absolute and total accountability for actions, words or indifference that create or allow physical, psychological, or social violation of women. There can be no exceptions as a result of wealth, status, influence or celebrity. 

The bottom line should and must be, justice for all.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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