The sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden continue to cause difficult discussions, especially in the midst of a major presidential election. After initially refraining from a public statement about the allegations, the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, has now spoken out saying that there are no “easy answers.”
Tara Reade accused Biden of sexually assaulting her back in 1993 when she worked as a staff assistant in the then-Senator’s office. Reade gave graphic details about the alleged incident on Katie Halper‘s podcast back in March. Since then, Biden’s campaign has denied the accusations.
Burke laid out her stance with a lengthy Twitter thread, essentially saying, “systems for survivors are not in place.”
“I took a moment away from work and movement-related issues to be present where I was needed as my family was affected with COVID,” Burke started. “But, I know many of you are wondering about my ‘take’ on the Tara Reade story.”
“My stance has never wavered: survivors have a right to speak their truth and to be given the space to heal. The inconvenient truth is that this story is impacting us differently because it hits at the heart of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. And I hate to disappoint you but I don’t really have easy answers. There are no perfect survivors. And no one, especially a presidential candidate, is beyond reproach. So where does that leave us?”
Burke went on to say that in a “just world, we’d have a transformative approach to dealing with claims of sexual violence where a survivor’s story is given fair consideration and they are made whole by a process that supports both accountability and healing. This is doubly important when outsized power dynamics are involved. But, we don’t have that right now.”
Burke explained that what we have now is a “zero-sum game where absolutely no one wins, in part because most people weighing in at the moment don’t actually care about transforming a culture of sexual violence. Many of you are only interested in this story because you are entertained by the trauma of others or because it has the potential to be politically expedient – with no real regard for the survivor.”
Burke went on to say that Reade had to “rely on journalists” to tell her story instead of “systems for survivors” and now folks are left with the dilemma on whether to support Biden as this country’s Democratic presidential candidate.
Burke, however, explained that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a black and white decision. “The defense of Joe Biden shouldn’t rest on whether or not he’s a ‘good guy’ or ‘our only hope,'” she wrote. “Instead, he could demonstrate what it looks like to be both accountable and electable.”
“Meaning, at minimum, acknowledging that his demonstrated learning curve around boundaries with women, at the very least, left him open to the plausibility of these claims. No matter what you believe, we are allowed to expect more of the person running for U.S. President.”
Burke ended by saying “we don’t have a guidebook” for this “in part because it would take a willingness from ALL of us to write it.”
“Survivors deserve more than being used as a political football by disinterested parties,” Burke wrote. “And a culture of acknowledging harm can’t exist if we continue to view sexual violence as a catastrophic outlier rather than an embedded toxic element of our culture.”
Burke made her comments on Tuesday morning, not too long before Vice President hopeful and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she “believes Joe Biden.” In a talk with Don Lemon on CNN, she said, “I believe that women deserve to be heard and I believe they need to be listened to, but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources. The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden.”
Meanwhile, Tara Reade said that she told a friend, her brother and her now deceased mom about the alleged assault and multiple sources have corroborated these claims. A former neighbor to Reade even came out and said she was told about the alleged assault, according to Business Insider.
In response to Burke’s remarks on Twitter, Reade wrote, “Reach out to me directly and ask? I am not an ‘imperfect victim’. I was lifelong Democratic supporter single mom that put myself through law school and I was raped by Joe Biden, my former boss, a Democrat. There are no excuses for institutionalized rape culture. Thank you.”
The conversation continues.