Denver, Colorado 2021-08-05 11:47:32 –
By JOCELYN NOVECK and MALLI KASEN
New York (AP) —He said his actions were misunderstood, his words were misunderstood. He said it was cultural: he hugs, kisses and says “Chao, Bella”. He said it was transgenerational: sometimes he falls into “honey” or “lover” and makes bad jokes.
But in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reaction to the findings of sexual harassment of 11 women, it was the one that most plagued many women, especially survivors of sexual assault and their supporters. He used his family’s sexual assault to explain his actions. Whistleblower.
“Governor Cuomo is not impressed by his attempts to use the story of survivors, including harassment, as a shield against his own misconduct and abuse of power, claiming that harassment is a’misunderstanding’.” The open letter states. Released Thursday by the National Women’s Justice Center and several gender and survivor groups, demanding the resignation or dismissal of the Democratic Governor.
Tarana Burke, a survivor and advocate who named the #MeToo movement, sent an email to the Associated Press saying, “Abusives focus on themselves in case of abuse, regardless of their personal history. You can’t put it in. “
“At these moments, the survivor’s story should be enhanced,” Burke said. “There are 11 story-backed women who have experienced harassment by the governor. The story of his family does not exempt him and he cannot use the trauma of others as his shield. . “
Allegations supported by investigators ranged from inappropriate comments to forced kisses and groping.
In a recorded statement on Tuesday, Cuomo denied improperly touching anyone, but apologized to two whistleblowers, including former staff Charlotte Bennett. He said he asked Bennett about her love life in a misunderstood bid to help her deal with trauma from past sexual assaults. He talked about a family of the same age who was sexually assaulted in high school.
“I thought I could help her work in difficult times,” the governor said of Bennett.
Emily Martin, vice president of education and workplace justice at NWLC, said Cuomo “suggested that he was a survivor of sexual assault. This is all that this report found. Given that, it’s a particularly disturbing move. “
“In a way, it reminds me of the’daughter’s father’comment I heard from many men in power,” Martin said. .. “
Bennett himself called Kuomo’s apology “meaningless.”
“If he’s sorry, he’ll resign. That’s the accountability mechanism,” she told AP shortly after her remark.
Bennett, who elaborated on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, said: I heard him say yesterday. “
Marissa Hextetter was one of those survivors. She said she was sad that Cuomo mentioned the assault of her relatives. “Because I don’t want to reduce those experiences.” However, supporters of New York State reform added: Someone in the family may have experienced sexual harm, and he may have caused this harm as well. “
“You are very angry when you see people’s trauma run through trying to explain the legitimate voice of others,” Hoechstetter said.
Deborah Tulcheimer, a law professor at Northwestern University who specializes in sexual misconduct, has made Kuomo’s remarks a bigger strategy to discredit his accusators and save his political career. Was considered part of.
“We often use the long-standing misconceptions about abusers as’monsters’ who have no reimbursement qualities,” Tuerkheimer said. “Whenever the accused man looks different from this imaginary monster, we tend to doubt his allegations, and the accused man is probably the victim of sexual assault, as evidence of innocence. We often take advantage of this cultural prejudice strategically by emphasizing their best qualities, including sympathy for others. “
For Indira Henard, director of the DC Rape Crisis Center, the proceedings against Cuomo’s remarks were simple. One sentence cannot support survivors and another cannot undermine their credibility.
“If you stand and believe in the survivor, you believe in the survivor,” Henard said. “You can’t break down their story.”
Many also questioned the effectiveness of other parts of Cuomo’s recorded statement, accompanied by a slideshow in which Cuomo hugged and kissed people in a benign environment.
“I kiss people on my forehead,” he said. “I kiss my cheeks. I kiss people in my hands. I accept people. I sometimes say” Chao, Bella. ” “
Evan Nierman, CEO and President of Red Banyan, a crisis public relations firm based in Florida and Washington, DC, said by Cuomo, “He’s a kind of continuous hug, so he’s bold to claim that he couldn’t make any claims. I called it “a movement.” It’s true because he hugs and kisses everyone. “
“There is a big difference between proper physical contact and the types of allegations made against the governor, so I don’t think most people will confuse the two,” said Nierman. ..
Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University who studies cross-cultural communication, pointed out that Kuomo refers to his legacy. She admitted that Italian-Americans tend to have a casual touch in conversation, “but it doesn’t touch sexual places.”
“It’s a friendly kiss,” she said. “So I don’t think it has much to do with the most serious claims either.”
Many, from crisis communications experts to survivors, agreed that Cuomo’s political future seems irreparable. They said the governor would need to be held accountable for New York and his accusations to move forward.
“Simply put, he needs to resign,” Henard said, adding that if he doesn’t resign, he should resign. “I will never come back.”
Follow Noveck on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP and follow Sen at https://twitter.com/mallikavsen.
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