It is Ms. Faludi’s contention that “unprincipled” conservatives inserted the “all,” and hung it around the necks of unsuspecting feminists.
Ms. Faludi has spent mind-numbing hours in Harvard Schlesinger Library tracking this idea. Why did she embark on this tedious task? Two words: Tara Reade.
Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault, and conservatives are having a field day, exultant that they’ve caught feminists in a new hypocrisy trap. A woman, with no corroboration beyond contemporaneous accounts, charges a powerful man with a decades-old crime? Hmm, doesn’t that sound mighty close to Christine Blasey Ford’s complaint against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? Yet this time, many liberals who’ve championed the #MeToo movement seem skeptical?
So Kavanaugh supporters, perhaps anticipating a double standard would emerge the minute a prominent Democrat was accused of sexual impropriety, merely dreamed up the “all” during Kavanaugh hearings? The Pulitzer Prize winning Faludi says that the idea that feminists ever said “believe all women” was a “canard.” Indeed, as the headline sums up:
“Believe All Women” Is a Right-Wing Trap
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway: “Three magic words, ‘Believe All Women.’ I didn’t hear an asterisk; I didn’t see a footnote, ‘Believe All Women so long as they are attacking somebody aligned with President Trump, Believe All Women so long as they are — have a college degree or better or are — are for abortion in the ninth month.’”
In fact, “Believe All Women” does have an asterisk: *It’s never been feminist “boilerplate.” What we are witnessing is another instance of the right decrying what it imagines the American women’s movement to be.
Spend some mind-numbing hours tracking the origins of “Believe All Women” on social media sites and news databases — as I did — and you’ll discover how language, like a virus, can mutate overnight. All of a sudden, yesterday’s quotes suffer the insertion of some foreign DNA that makes them easy to weaponize. In this case, that foreign intrusion is a word: “all.”
“All” insertion was all the rage during the Kavanaugh hearings. When senators from Kamala Harris to Mazie Hirono had their regard for Dr. Blasey’s credibility elevated by Fox News pundits to universal gender credulity, their actual words, “I believe her,” became believe all women. “That’s literally the hashtag,” former Fox News contributor Morgan Ortagus said in February 2019. “There’s a great search function on Twitter, and you can search the #BelieveAllWomen. For those of you who don’t believe that’s what the Democrats had in the case of Kavanaugh.”
Is there “literally” a hashtag? Well, kind of.
In fact, as Faludi sees it, “believe all women” is the opposite of “believe women:”
This is why “Believe All Women” is not an amplification of “Believe Women,” but its negation. As Mr. Morales Henry at the Schlesinger Library told me, after several days of analyzing the use of the two hashtags, “It looks like #BelieveAllWomen, especially recently, is being used in opposition to #BelieveWomen.” Its use spikes on occasions when allegations are made against a liberal politician — often with companion hashtags decrying a double standard.
The double-standard purity test operates in one direction only. Conservatives are unfazed by their own brazen hypocrisies; that’s not the game they’re playing. Kellyanne Conway claiming it’s “pro-woman” to “believe all women,” before walking back into that White House?
Conservatives have been oddly immunized by their shamelessness.
It is a contorted op-ed, and, as Ramesh Ponnuru points out Faludi, for all her hours in the Schlesinger Library, still misses the point:
To the extent [Faludi] succeeds at all, it is in defending the ludicrously narrow contentions that feminists used the words “believe women” rather than “believe all women” and that some conservatives have erred about the precise wording. But by the op-ed’s end, she doesn’t get us an inch closer to the conclusion that there was an implied “some” in that slogan. Of course the point of it was to flip the presumption of innocence.
The flipped presumption was omnipresent in the Kavanaugh debate. Take Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), who said, in the midst of the confirmation fight, “We need to believe survivors.” If that didn’t mean that accusations should be presumed true, it didn’t mean anything. Feminists didn’t patiently explain to him that he had bungled the meaning of the slogan when he said that. He hadn’t. He just, like them, didn’t mean it.
Clearly, feminists were stung by the accusations of hypocrisy.
Just as clearly, Ms. Faludi must have had a lot of time on her hands.
Good take on the Faludi op-ed at Hot Air.