|Sarah Thomson with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford|
You will be shocked by how visceral, and how divided, the reactions are.
For those of you who aren't on Facebook or Twitter ... well first of all, welcome Cro Magnon! I didn't think you still existed! ... here's the background. Formal mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson was at a party last night and says Rob Ford made a suggestive remark and squeezed her backside when she greeted him. She then posted a photo of herself standing beside Ford, who appears to be melting from the inside out, with the comment: “Guess where his hand was in this picture? I must go shower.” She added: “Is grabbing someone ass assault (sic)?”
Within moments, the photo-allegation went viral. It's all anyone can talk about today; Sarah has consented to and been taken apart in at least three interviews and it's not over yet. (Interestingly, Rob Ford has not agreed to a single interview, though he issued a firm denial via press release.)
What has been fascinating, and also depressing, to witness is how the tide has turned as the day wears on. A scandal that started out making Rob Ford look bad (not a difficult task these days) has somehow morphed into an all-out attack on Sarah Thomson's credibility, motives, judgment, reputation, even her attractiveness.
- "But you are smiling in that picture!"
- "But Rob Ford has never been accused of touching anyone inappropriately!"
- "Why you didn't go to the police?"
- "Had you been drinking?"
- "Why did you post this picture on Facebook?"
Because that is what always happens when women go public with allegations of sexual assault.
I'm not saying Rob Ford did grab Sarah's ass. In my personal opinion he appears to be seven different kinds of slimeball who has lied about having a DUI, who has been known to become drunk and belligerent in public, who inappropriately solicited funds for his football team and who commandeers city buses for personal purposes. But maybe he draws the line at ass-grabbing. I don't know, I wasn't there.
I'm not saying Sarah Thomson didn't make this up. In my personal opinion, if she is telling the truth, she ought to have gone straight to the police. But I've been sexually assaulted before, as have most women, to some degree or another, and I know that many of us never report it. Largely on account of the shit-kicking we know we're going to get if we go public. (I told my lawyer about one of the incidents and he laughed. I kid you not. So imagine what kind of blowback a woman would get if, say, the perpetrator was Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
Anyway, my point is not whether or not this actually happened, because we'll probably never know for sure. What matters here is how the allegation is being handled, on International Women's Day, ironically.
We've come a long way, baby. Or have we . . .