Disgusting treatment of judicial candidate in Ohio

Last week, my local paper ran a story and an editorial on Lisa Swenski, a bad-ass woman who is running for Domestic Relations Judge of Lorain County (the primary election is on March 6th). The article was titled “Mental health issues complicate judicial campaign.” The paper does not actually say how Ms. Swenski’s past mental health “issues”–PTSD following a sexual assault by a roommate in law school–in any way impacts her campaign or ability to be Domestic Relations Judge. What it does do is imply that she is delusional, since she was involuntarily committed to the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute after doctors didn’t believe her rape claims. The Chronicle-Telegram seemed doubtful, too.

Never mind that she was given a rape kit, that the sexual assault was confirmed, that two other women were similarly assaulted by the same rapist, and that he was eventually kicked out of school as a result. Never mind that this is in NO WAY RELEVANT to her campaign or ability to be a good Domestic Relations Judge, and that calling the existence of Ms. Swenski’s sexual assault into question given overwhelming evidence to the contrary is an obvious and disgusting tactic to smear her in the campaign.

But it doesn’t stop there. Last Friday, the paper ran an editorial endorsing Ms. Swenski’s opponent (who, incidentally, is facing allegations of sexual harassment) saying that she “has been compromised by years-old trauma,” and that “the experience [of sexual assault] has set her up to be a poor judge, biased in favor of people who complain that they’ve been victims of a faulty system.” What. The. Fuck.

And just in case you thought it couldn’t get any worse: according to her Facebook page, during her endorsement interview, the editor of the Chronicle-Telegram asked her what, exactly, the rape kit showed and if semen was found. If this isn’t invasive and disturbing enough, he then decided to shift the blame onto Ms. Swenski, incredulously asking her, “You moved in with a MAN law student?” (emphasis hers). This is not only victim-blaming but is incredibly insulting to all men who are not rapists.

Let’s get this straight: the Chronicle-Telegram is saying that because she was raped, she is crazy and hates the legal system. Oh, and it probably didn’t happen anyways, and even if it did, it was her own fault for living with a male roommate. Ms. Swenski is strong woman and a strong candidate, but nobody deserves this type of treatment. As if there weren’t enough barriers to keep women from running for office.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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