The first Division 1 opinion of 2017 was a case called Duvall v. Nelson. Prior to this, I already knew I would be supporting Judge David Mann's retention to the Court of Appeals. He's a good dude, and a good judge and lawyer. This opinion really cemented that support, and perked up my excitement for Judge Mann even more.
Briefly - the case stemmed from a denial of a sexual assault protection order. A woman was at a party, imbibed, and had sex with a man. She did not have the clearest memory of the incident, and the judge lectured her about drinking, and denied the order since the man (James Duvall) stated that she had said yes.
Think about that for a quick second: a woman was inebriated to the point that she could not reasonably be considered of a sound mental state enough to give consent, but because the man who raped her said she did, the judge refused a protective order that would have denied this man the ability to continue to contact his victim. This result at the district court level is nothing shy of infuriating.
So the Court of Appeals ended up with this case. And Judge Mann wrote the opinion. The insane notion presented: the ability to give consent means the individual giving consent must have the mental capacity to consent. Fun tidbit: if you're very intoxicated, there's a good chance that you are unable to give consent for sexual intercourse. This should be common sense, but apparently it isn't.
Why do I bring this up? Because the Spokesman-Review published a story that every person involved in the Democratic Party needs to read.
This is a story of how our Party has moved, under our new Statewide leadership, to create an environment that is safe for all folks involved. And so, following a meeting, a group of folks decided to create a party elsewhere. They invited a young woman - a teenager - to engage in excessive drinking. And they stood by as she was taken advantage of by a much older man who was not drunk.
It's a story of men trying to remove any responsibility from themselves - those who were in a position to protect her from this sexual predator, and the predator himself. Of a wife who harassed this young woman. Of a rapist who requested he not be officially arrested to save him from embarrassment. And of a prosecutor who declined to press charges because, while there is ample evidence that the young woman was drunk, it's not clear that the six drinks she had in short order were enough to make her too mentally incapacitated.
It's also the story of a rape that occurred in April that is just now coming to light. See, I've known about this for awhile. When the rapist announced he was resigning his various positions, I watched as people praised him for his work in the Party, and his reveling in this praise, while refusing to take responsibility for being a rapist. I've sat by frustrated as people have worked to protect him and his family, and gotten angry at the mention that he is a rapist. Don't get me wrong - I haven't been silent. But I know that I have failed because I also haven't been loud.
What I can say - we can pretend the be the Party that calls out Donald Trump and Roger Ailes for their sexual assault of women all we want, but we also have to get our own house in order. The stories I've heard from women who feel threatened with sexual assault by male predators in the Party are many. I've intervened when men have tried to take advantage of young women who are clearly inebriated. If your a dude and you don't do this, you're enabling rape culture.
There are bright spots that I see. Areas that give me hope. Matt Kanter - the person who succeeded me as Chair of the King County Young Democrats - has been phenomenal at making clear that the County Young Dems are not going to tolerate underage drinking by going after those who try to get young folks drunk, and that it is on men to not rape women, not on women to be on heightened alert at all times. This means it's also on men to intervene when they see something going wrong.
It's also very good that WA-Dems Chair Tina Podlodowski and KCDCC Chair Bailey Stober made clear to this rapist that his time in the Party was over. Too often I have seen our Party work to hide bad behavior, while failing to adequately condemn the actions of men being shitty.
This also shows that no matter how "progressive" one's cred is, the permeating factor of rape culture is men being shitty. Moving forward, my hope is that every person who stood by and did nothing will re-evaluate their decisions, and be more engaged in preventing non-consensual sexual encounters in the future. The reason I want every active member of the Democratic Party to read the entire Spokesman-Review piece is to see all of the times that this could have been prevented, and it wasn't. To put ourselves in each of those moments, and ask what we would do if we really want to dismantle rape culture.
And in the future when we see men aiming to take advantage of women (and we will), we need to actually do those things. It's on us.