Splainer

Wednesday, August 4 2021


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I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal. I was just going out there doing this for me. To have one more opportunity to be at the Olympics meant the world to me.

That’s the world’s greatest gymnast Simone Biles explaining what it meant to walk away with a bronze medal—after pulling out of successive events to deal with mental health issues. She came in third in the balancing beam event. See an ecstatic Biles after she finished her routine—it says everything! New York Times has more on the win.

Big Story

Trigger warning: Our Big Story includes descriptions of sexual groping and other forms of harassment.

 

An explosive sexual harassment exposé in New York

The TLDR: The New York attorney general's office issued a report with graphic details of how the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. It is a shocking example of how powerful men can abuse women—brazenly, repeatedly and over decades—while holding public office.

 

What does the report say?

The report is the result of a months-long investigation by the attorney general’s office into allegations of sexual harassment—and is based on interviews with 179 witnesses and tens of thousands of documents. In sum, here’s what it found

  • Cuomo harassed members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees. 
  • He engaged in “non-consensual touching, groping, kissing and hugging, and made inappropriate comments toward numerous women.” 
  • It also concluded that the governor’s denials “lack credibility” and were “inconsistent with the weight of the evidence” gathered throughout the probe.

 

It includes detailed and graphic accounts from victims who reveal a man unafraid of consequences:

 

  • In the case of a staffer dubbed Executive Assistant #1, he kissed her on the lips at least once, grabbed her buttocks during hugs, asked multiple times about whether she had cheated or would cheat on her husband, and once reached under her blouse to grab her breast.
  • Cuomo even harassed a New York state policewoman assigned to his security detail on a number of occasions. Cuomo ran "his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip" as she held a door open. She said it made her feel "completely violated because to me, like that's between my chest and my privates."
  • He continually propositioned a close aide by making repeated sexual innuendos. In a single conversation, he asked her if she was monogamous, if she would date an older man, if her previous sexual assault affected her attraction to men, and that she should get a tattoo on her butt.
  • Cuomo’s misbehaviour often took place in plain sight—for example, during a photo-op when he touched a woman’s "butt, tapped it twice, and then grabbed her butt."
  • To an aide being scratched by his dog, he said: "Well, if I was the dog, I'd mount you too." He also repeatedly touched various parts of her body. And when she went public in December, Cuomo’s office launched a smear campaign—”including by disseminating to the press confidential internal documents that painted her in a negative light.”

 

Big point to note: We often overlook how men who sexually prey on women also foster an abusive workplace—using a ‘carrot and stick' approach to keep them in line:

 

“Women that investigators spoke with said they were either on the end of the governor's inappropriate comments or they were being yelled at or berated. ‘Many of the complainants described being uncomfortable with the Governor's flirtatious advances while also perceiving such behavior as a sign that they were favored – and spared from being yelled at, ignored, or otherwise mistreated by the Governor instead,’ the report says.”

 

What is Cuomo saying?

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

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  • A rash of Capitol Hill suicides
  • An app for argumentative college kids
  • A rescued juvenile killer whale

 

A list of curious facts

  • Geese sometimes fly upside down just to show off
  • Swimming is the best aerobic exercise for your brain
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