Elizabeth Warren and What It Means to ‘Believe Women’:

Power provokes trust; a comparative lack of power provokes suspicion. Consider that one of the only twisted contexts in which women’s claims of sexual harassment and assault have been consistently believed is when they have been leveled by (more powerful) white women — women who have often in fact been lying — against (less powerful) black men, then used as justification for racial violence and lynching.

But when Matthews expresses on television his absolute befuddlement at the idea that Bloomberg, a man who is running for president and who settled the legal claim brought against him by Garrison, would have a material interest in not telling the truth about a difference of opinion, he puts on display exactly the power dynamics that have left so many women who make claims of bias understood to be untrustworthy. And when Warren asks him in return, simply, why we shouldn’t believe the woman who has told the story of bias, she makes clear why the suggestion that we treat more women’s voices as legitimate doesn’t have to be a blunt and clumsy mandate in order for it to be a crucial step that could advance how we understand and correct abusive power dynamics.