My issue isn’t with #MeToo. In cases where a specific person is not accused, I don’t see people actually questioning the veracity of anyone’s claim that they have been the victim of assault or abuse. I’m sure it happens, but I don’t think it’s a widespread phenomenon. If you tell me you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment or sexual crime and just leave it at that, I have absolutely no reason to doubt it. This is not a situation where two or more conflicting narratives of an event are being offered, but rather just one narrative — your own. You are not asking me to reach conclusions regarding the guilt or innocence of any particular person(s) in that case. You are not seeking justice but validation and I’m happy to give it to the extent I can.
That said, your article specifically names someone who is accused of abuse (perhaps with good reason by the looks of it), so it seems a bit odd to fall back on the argument that most #MeToo posts don’t do this. To use your own example, if you post you’ve been a victim of a robbery no one has any reason to doubt it. However, if you posted on Facebook or Twitter that I robbed you and I denied it, it would certainly be reasonable to expect that you produce evidence to support your claim and that I have a chance to respond to it before everyone started demanding I resign from my job or be thrown behind bars.
In your case, you aren’t really just asking me to believe you on faith on the grounds that you’re a woman or claim to be a victim of a particular person’s actions. You are saying ‘I have evidence (perhaps even proof) that this happened to me’ and you are providing it. If accusations don’t start with evidence, they should at least end there before we harm or ruin the lives of the accused, to say nothing of their families. My problem with your article is you seem to ask that others who claim to have been victims and who name their abusers be believed whether they follow your lead by providing evidence or not. I am not advocating disbelief as an alternative response to their accusations. I’m advocating agnosticism in the absence of evidence and calling for aggressive investigations to the extent possible to determine if it exists and if so what it is. Once evidence has been produced, even if it falls short of proof, we can begin to lean one way or another and begin asking harder questions of the person(s) the evidence seems to be going against. Until then, neither belief nor disbelief is warranted. I’m not going to demand someone resign simply because they’ve been accused of something they deny until there’s something more than an accusation to go on. The evidence may be circumstantial but cumulative in nature or it may be physical, but there needs to be something more than just the accusation to go on, as in your case.
What I don’t appreciate is calls that I reach a conclusion (belief or disbelief) simply on the grounds someone claims to have been a victim or because they are a woman (or anyone else). I’m not a huge fan of publicly shaming people on social media, particularly through accusations that can’t be verified, but I’m particularly opposed to the rest of us piling on when this happens by demanding people resign and have their career destroyed before an investigation has even begun. It never ceases to amaze me that the US has a president who bragged about assault on tape (strong evidence if ever there was any) but has not been asked to resign by either party, yet the Lt Governor of Virginia has been asked to resign on the basis of allegations alone with no solid evidence so far being produced that I’m aware of and Al Franken is no longer in the Senate because he got caught in a photo exercising poor taste years ago. This is a recipe for another kind of abuse. History is replete with examples of accusations being weaponized to destroy lives. Evidence matters. So does context for that matter. That’s all I’m saying.