What does it mean to ‘believe women?’

220px-Judge_Brett_Kavanaugh“Believing women” doesn’t mean we have to accept accusations as evidence. So what might it mean in real life?

• When a woman makes an accusation, it would mean pursuing all available lines of evidence to weigh the truth of her claims. In the matter of Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination, it would mean calling Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s buddy, to testify under penalty of perjury. So far that’s not happening. That the Senate Judiciary Committee is not taking such a step suggests they don’t have much interest in trying, as best as we poor humans are capable, of making a genuine attempt to determine the truth of the matter.

• When a woman’s accusation is proven, the person convicted of abusing or assaulting her will be given more than a slap-on-the-wrist punishment.

• And women a woman says she has been traumatized by sexual assault, we don’t wave our hands and tell her to toughen up instead of being such a victim.

None of this means accepting an accusation as evidence. What it does mean is taking the accusation seriously enough to learn the truth, and taking women seriously enough to deal seriously with the men who have assaulted them.

Given the state of our arguments over Kavanaugh — and I truly don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent of the allegations, though I’m inclined to believe his accuser — I’d say we’re not there yet.

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