Suckered into unnecessary debate

“Due process” is often erroneously cited during sexual assault allegations as to how the public at large ought to respond to allegations of misconduct, especially sexual assault and harassment. Often this is to the benefit of the accused, with the implicit idea that we should mistrust the source of the allegations unless the process goes through criminal court.

The thing is, survivors of harassment and sexualized violence aren’t “against due process,” and framing the issue as such is a tremendous disservice:

The opposing view. I furrowed my brow trying to understand what they were asking. An opposing view to whether a reckoning on sexual harassment was healthy and overdue? An opposing view on whether each case is different and the accused deserve due process? I replied with a request to discuss further via phone.

I’d never interacted with USA Today before, so while waiting, I looked up the representative who had contacted me. She appeared to be a low-level employee who was tasked with putting stories together. It was unusual, as I’d almost always been contacted by editors directly when they wanted me to write a piece.

She called just a few minutes after I sent the email. I asked her to please give me more details about the editorial that they wanted me to rebut. “We are going to write about how we think it is a very good thing that women are going forward,” she began and basically repeated the same thing she had said in her email: individual cases…due process…etc. “Would you be willing to write the rebuttal to that?”

I paused for a second, thinking of how to best reply.

“No, I can’t write a rebuttal to that because of course I believe in due process,” I answered, deciding not to delve into the side discussion of how due process is a legal term that doesn’t usually apply to private employment, “But I’d be happy to write a response.”

I told her that I’d be happy to write about how the fixation on “due process” for these men was an attempt to re-center the concerns of men. How the question itself was absurd, because if there’s anything these stories show, it’s that these men in their years of open abuse were given more than just due process — but the women, many of whom had tried bringing this abuse to those in authority years before, were given no process at all. I said I’d love to write about the countless women whose careers were ended by coming forward with the abuse they faced, about the countless women whose careers were never able to get off of the ground because of abuse and gender discrimination. Due process. Women would love ANY process. They would love to even be heard.

Read more from Ijeoma Oluo here.