Column

The Left’s Misogyny Problem

The Aaron Coleman saga shows how for too many ‘progressive’ men, women’s well-being takes a backseat to political convenience

Jessica Valenti
GEN
Published in
5 min readAug 24, 2020

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Photo: Aaron Coleman for Kansas

All sexism is bad, but there’s nothing quite as frustrating as sexism from supposed progressives. Women have come to expect misogyny from the right — under this administration, it’s practically their calling card. But when it comes from the left, it’s a painful reminder of how foundational misogyny is in this country. After all, how can women make progress when even those who claim to be our allies peddle in sexism without hesitation?

That sad reality reared its head last week as men on the left rushed to defend a young Democratic candidate who admitted to abuse, some of it criminal, of girls.

Aaron Coleman, 19 years old and bound for a house seat in Kansas until he announced his intention to drop out on Sunday, committed serious harassment and sexual misconduct when he was a teenager: Between the ages of 12 and 14, he bullied one girl so badly that she attempted suicide; extorted another classmate with a nude photo which he later sent to her friends and family (which legally amounts to distributing child pornography, among other things); and harassed a third young woman for months.

Coleman has not made amends to his victims, one of whom says “he’s an awful person and he should not be allowed to run for anything.” The other young woman Coleman harassed told a reporter for the Kansas City Star that she was “in disbelief that another man that doesn’t respect women is in power.”

In fact, other than his official apology — an apology that was only made once his abusive history came to light — Coleman has only once addressed his actions, writing to a victim’s relative to more or less tell her to get over it. “I’ve moved on,” he said. “They call the past the past for a reason, because that’s where you are supposed to leave things. At this point you shouldn’t move on for me, you should move on for yourself.”

Despite Coleman demonstrating little genuine remorse for his abusive and criminal actions, men who pride themselves on their leftist politics lined up to his defense. They said he was just a kid at the time of…

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Jessica Valenti
GEN
Writer for

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.