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Power and Media Imbalance: Tara Reade’s Story

Tara Reade was an unknown name until a few weeks ago. Now, we know her to be a survivor of sexual assault at the hands of presidential candidate Joe Biden. Initially, her claims did not achieve mainstream media coverage, but as more evidence comes to light, it brings criticism and manipulation with it. At GlobalGirl Media, we are choosing to share her story and show how the biased system of power has influenced media coverage.

Reade’s experience is not too dissimilar to other women who have stepped forward. Sadly, a system which works for survivors of sexual assault does not appear to exist, which drives public survivors to turn to journalists and make their voices heard. This is not the first time Reade has attempted to step forward. Her continuous attempts have been dissuaded by smears and slanders.

Today, thanks to political podcaster Katie Halper, Reade’s full story came to light. An event which occurred in 1993 has been upheld by other individuals who have confirmed the authenticity of her story. However, her public platform has been a catalyst for criticism from supporters of Biden.

Reade’s experience occurred when she was a staff assistant to Biden from 1992-93. She found herself alone with a man she admired. In the interview, Reade describes the painful penetration of his fingers. She explains how he was disgusted at her fear and stated, “I heard you liked me.” His tone of voice suggestion she had wanted this.

He told her she was “nothing” and her initial reluctance to admit this was because she believed it. She believed that he was right and that is how she was treated. She believed she had no platform, and this was the reason why women do not come forward. Trauma, fright and replaying memories left her vulnerable and unable to speak of this memory without reliving it again.

Prior to the exposing interview, Reade turned to the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund for help in January 2020, but they declined. The non-profit Time’s Up – founded in 2018 to help women who have been sexually assaulted – has consistently been criticised for their hypocrisy. This time, they raised concerns that a story about a potential presidential candidate could affect their non-profit status.

An establishment solely founded to provide legal defence for sexual violence victims in the workplace – raising $22 million as of October 2018 – was politically biased. Reade was turned away by the system set up to help her.

With this year being the first presidential election following the re-emergence of the #MeToo movement, the presidential candidates should be held accountable when it comes to claims such as Reade’s. Both of the men in these powerful positions have been accused of sexual assault.

There are of course, the grey areas to consider. Although no one was witness to the assault, her brother, former neighbour and former colleague have come forward to support the alleged incident. Her former neighbour Lynda LaCasse said, “I have to support her just because that’s what happened.” She recalled Reade crying and confiding in LaCasse.

A tape of a woman calling into CNN’s ‘Larry King Live’ show emerged from 1993. The show was devoted to sex abuse victims who could ask for advice. Although Reade’s mother died in 2016, she claims that the women was her mother, claiming her daughter left a job after problems with a “prominent senator” occurred.

When individuals come forward to support a victim, why does it take decades of allegations against powerful men before they are brought to justice? The system is built on the repression of women’s voices, when it comes to sexual misconduct. We saw this when Reade was relieved of her duties after complaining in 1993. We understand why she lacked the courage to come forward. We emphasise with her vulnerability.

When it comes to power, we have to acknowledge the bias in the system.

Abusers like Biden should be held accountable, since half a dozen women have come forward accusing Biden of being inappropriate. Although he pledged to be more mindful, in an interview last year, Reade stated, “it’s not him. It’s the people around him who keep covering for him.” The Democratic Party claims to hold itself to higher standard on race and gender inclusivity. They have acknowledged and denied the allegations. However, Biden’s silence on this issue has been concerning.

Women like Tara Reade may be doubted and smeared, but these women will be the ones who shine a light on these men. Wherever there is a misbalance of power, there will be an abuse of power.

AUTHOR: Dila Yalman

Dila is an Intern at GlobalGirl Media UK. She is an aspiring journalist and currently studies Economics at the University of Edinburgh.

Dila writes and edits for her university's Economics Magazine, as well as for a start-up fashion magazine. She also regularly writes pieces ranging from academic critiques to political reports for her blog. Most of her writing reflects what she has personally encountered and tells the story of real people.

Dila is seeking to assert her journalistic voice while providing a voice for those who do not have one and this is what she aims to gain from her experience at GGM UK.

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