Abusers and the systems that protect them
Powerful men can get away with anything. Patriarchal systems, money, and influence mean CEOs, A listers, and the elite can often do anything they want and dodge the consequences. When powerful men are held responsible for their actions, it's only because a lot of people worked really hard to make it happen. This was the case with Weinstein, the case that sparked the #MeToo movement. And while justice is slowly being served, there are still plenty of powerful systems that protect abusers. The most recent case includes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
It's one thing to see celebrities and business moguls protected by their money, influence, powerful family, and team of lawyers, but there is something particularly disturbing about seeing abuse and harassment covered up in politics. Powerful men are harassing, abusing, and discriminating on the tax payer's dime. And there's few better words to describe that than 'totally fucked.'
News broke yesterday that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was found to have sexually harassed multiple women during his time as Governor. Cuomo is the head of New York State (equivalent to a Premier in Australia), and you might know him as the guy who got a COVID test on live TV and said that it 'wasn't that bad'. He's also the guy who beat Cynthia Nixon (aka Miranda from Sex and the City) in a recent New York State election. Cuomo has previously had a solid reputation, which was marred slightly by allegations of COVID mismanagement.
President Joe Biden (I still feel such relief when saying that) put out a public statement yesterday saying that Cuomo should resign. Notably, Biden and Cuomo are both Democrats. The President called on a high-ranking member of his own party to resign based on the investigation's findings, which also stated that Cuomo fostered a "hostile work environment" that it was "rife with fear and intimidation". Now you might think that's pretty normal behaviour from a leader when such news comes out about member of their party, but unfortunately it's just not that common.
I despise talking about this fucking man. But he's the prime example of someone who was protected. Now Porter has not been found guilty of any charges, so his official status is an alleged rapist. To call him anything else would be defamatory, and we know he won't back away from a lawsuit. But the point still stands. He's been accused of multiple crimes and gross actions towards women, but he's been protected. By his private school, by his prestigious university, by his important friends, and most importantly, by the Prime Minister himself, who didn't see any reason Porter should be deemed unfit for his position as Attorney-General. In fact, the PM thought it suitable to give Porter the kind of leave most of us would never see approved by even the most generous of managers.
Barnaby Joyce is the leader of the Nationals Party and the Deputy Prime Minister. The second in charge of the nation. And he has an unresolved allegation of sexual misconduct hanging over him. Except that it's not really hanging over him at all. He's seemingly brushed it off. The investigation into the allegations were not conducted by an independent body nor law enforcement, oh no. It was conducted by the Nationals. His party. The allegations were the cause of his previous resignation as leader of the Nationals in 2018. After a few years of laying low, he popped back up to reclaim what he obviously believes is his rightful place, as Deputy PM. An internal investigation run by his own party is not the result Australians deserve following such serious allegations.
Another ~alleged~ that I hate to think about. Laming is known for similarly gross behaviour, though does not have as serious allegations against him. In March, Laming actually said he was going to step down from parliamentary roles, but ended up keeping his seat on a committee, allegedly due to the extra $20 000+ it paid him. When allegations of sexual harassment arose about Laming, Scott Morrison not only defended him for not 'bowing' to the calls for his resignation, he actually praised him for the "many good things" he had done in parliament. Laming has now officially announced his exit from politics at the next election, after a Nine News investigation. It was the media that ended his political career, not his political colleagues and leaders.
Until the systems inside parliament and political offices are broken down and made transparent, until there are proper processes and systems to report harassment, abuse, and discrimination, these men will continue to be protected. They will continue to get away scot-free, or very minimally impacted. Christian Porter, after claiming his life would be ruined by allegations, still has his job, and is currently the Acting Leader of the House of Reps. He's still getting paid more than most of us every will, and even coverage of his allegations in the media are minimal. Barnaby Joyce is the fucking Deputy PM. And Laming got to finish his term (and will be replaced by a candidate who has been accused of fat shaming women), and will likely seamlessly transition back into his medical work.
Until we have leaders who point out unethical, immoral, and illegal behaviour in their ranks, the culture won't change.