Them Too, Mr. President

If one wants to know why women often take years to come forward after being sexually harassed or assaulted, Exhibit A currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C., 20500.

But let’s backtrack briefly.

There’s a social wave occurring in the United States right now. In the worlds of the famous – politics, entertainment, media – scores of women are publicly taking a stand. They’re telling their stories to the world, detailing the ways that men of power and privilege have harassed, insulted, threatened, intimidated, and assaulted them. And these stories are finally beginning to have consequences.

  • Bill Cosby’s career essentially ended when the accusations against him became widely known. Criminal proceedings started this year, though they have stalled for the time being.
  • Harvey Weinstein was fired from his own company, and has become a pariah in his industry. In addition, criminal investigations are now beginning.
  • James Toback will likely not be making any films ever again after literally hundreds of women accused him of sexual harassment and assault.
  • Louis CK had to step away from promotion of his new film. Support and work has dried up for him, after allegations of sexual harassment were publicly released.
  • Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, and Matt Lauer all lost their jobs.
  • Al Franken agreed to an ethics investigation into allegations about him from before he was a Senator. Subsequent allegations included incidents from after he was elected.

There are so many others. Prominent men in positions of influence and power are finding the ground underneath their pedestals of privilege crumbling.

There is, however, one glaring exception. Allegations against this particular man have been publicly known longer than most of the aforementioned. But for some reason, this specific man not only continued in the public sphere despite these allegations, he thrived.

I am, of course, referring to the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.

In fact, he became President AFTER video and audio evidence of him was released, cheerfully telling Billy Bush specifics about his crimes.

He literally bragged about committing sexual assault with impunity.

Yes, there was some immediate backlash, but it faded swiftly. After all, admitted sexual assault is bad, but a Democratic woman is much scarier – at least, to 63 million Americans.

Donald Trump hasn’t exactly faded out of the news since the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released. Obviously, becoming the most powerful non-Russian on Earth would guarantee that. But despite the turbulence of the Trump presidency, as well as a sudden cultural shift in favor of women pushing back against systemic misogyny – Trump’s own sexual misdeeds have largely faded from public memory.

They shouldn’t. Indeed, they can’t.

Not just for the individual women themselves, although their justice is paramount. However, also important is justice for women, period. If the American President is allowed to assault and harass more than a dozen women (at least), and face no retribution, no inquiry, no serious investigation, then injustice has been done to ALL women.

Donald Trump has a myriad of other issues right now, many of them unrelated to his treatment of women. And it’s possible he may find himself out of office early, and possibly even on trial – thanks to those issues. But even in that event, it would do a massive disservice to those he mistreated to forget about them, or they stories they’ve told.

I would like to provide a reminder that the current President of the United States has been accused of committing sexual crimes against the following women:

Jessica Leeds
Some time in the 1980s, while sitting next to Donald Trump on a flight, he groped her repeatedly, including reaching under her skirt, while she sat frozen in terror.

Jill Harth
In 1993, she alleged he cornered her in an empty room at Mar-a-Lago, and groped her, while trying to reach up her dress. This was after several months of repeated and declined advances by Trump.

Ivana Trump
While married to Donald, in 1989, Ivana told friends that Donald attacked her after he had a painful surgery on his scalp. He pulled hair out of her head and then raped her. Years later, she walked back the phrase “rape,” but she never denied the actual events (which clearly described rape) happened.

Kristin Anderson
In the early ’90s, at the China Club in New York, Trump sat next to Anderson – who was a stranger to him – and reached up her skirt, touching her genitals through her underwear. She and her friends left quickly after that. She and those same friends were able to identify the groper as Donald Trump.

Lisa Boyne
Boyne attended a dinner at a restaurant in the mid ’90s with Trump, several men, and a group of models. She said that Trump had the models walk around on the table above him, where he looked up their skirts and commented on what he saw. He also spent much of the time bragging about his sexual exploits directly to Boyne.

Temple Taggart
During rehearsals for the 1997 Miss USA pageant, Trump forced an unwanted kiss on Taggart’s lips, not once, but twice.

Mariah Billado
Billado was a contestant in the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant. She and four other contestants all confirmed that Trump walked into their changing room while they were in various states of undress, including completely naked. The contestants aged between 15 and 19 that year, which meant he was invading the privacy of numerous minors.

Cathy Heller
In the mid ’90s, Heller said that during the one and only time she met Donald Trump, he immediately tried to kiss her on the lips without any warning. He then yelled at her as she twisted away.

Karena Virginia
In 1998, while waiting for a car outside of the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Trump approached her. He made objectifying comments about her appearance to the group of men he was with, then reached out and grabbed her breast. He smiled at her and asked, “Don’t you know who I am?”

Bridget Sullivan
Similar to the testimony of Mariah Billado at the Miss Teen USA pageant, Trump was accused of walking into the changing rooms at the Miss USA and possibly Miss Universe pageants as well. Sullivan, the former Miss New Hampshire attested to this. In addition, Trump himself had bragged about walking into the changing rooms with impunity. This has been recorded during interviews with Howard Stern.

Tasha Dixon
Former Miss Arizona Tasha Dixon also confirmed the stories of Trump walking into the changing rooms while contestants were in various states of undress.

Natasha Stoynoff
Stoynoff, a writer for People Magazine, alleged Trump attacked her in an empty room at Mar-a-Lago in December 2005, when she traveled there to conduct an interview with him. He forcibly kissed her, and stuck his tongue down her throat. A butler interrupted them, but later in the day, Trump told Stoynoff, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you? Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.”  Six witnesses later corroborated Stoynoff’s account of the incident.

Rachel Crooks
In 2005, Crooks worked as a receptionist at a company located in Trump Tower. One day, Trump approached her outside of an elevator. He shook her hand, but then refused to let go. He started kissing her cheeks, then kissed her on her mouth as she struggled to escape. She eventually ran back to her desk, badly shaken by the assault.

Mindy McGillivray
January 2003, at Mar-a-Lago, McGillivray was working as a photographers assistant. While standing in a group of people photographing Ray Charles, she felt someone grab her buttocks. She turned around to see Donald Trump standing there, smiling.

Jennifer Murphy
As a contestant on the Apprentice in 2005, Murphy interviewed for a job with Trump. At the end of the interview, Trump kissed her, uninvited, on the mouth. It should be noted, unlike the other accusers, Murphy has admitted she was “okay with it.”

Jessica Drake
In 2006, at a golf tournament, Trump grabbed Drake, along with two other women, and kissed each one on the mouth without permission. He then contacted Drake repeatedly after, offering $10,000 in exchange for sex – which she declined.

Ninni Laaksonen
The former Miss Finland was groped by Trump during a group photograph in 2006, outside of the building where the Late Show with David Letterman was filmed.

Summer Zervos
Zervos was a contestant on Trump’s reality game show The Apprentice in 2007. She has stated that on two occasions, he forcibly kissed her on the mouth while meeting her privately. And during the second incident, he groped her breast, and tried to coerce her into joining in him a bedroom. He reacted angrily when she spurned his advances.

Cassandra Searles
Searles contends that as a contestant in the 2013 Miss USA pageant, Trump groped her several times and asked her to go back to his hotel room. She declined his requests.

———————————————————————————————-
These women do not personally benefit by coming forward and telling their stories. Even now, a year after most of these complaints came to light, there still is a frequent backlash against accusers. The claim that false accusations are common, and occur for money or publicity, ring hollow. This is true especially when one looks back at the last few months, and the waves of women stepping forward to tell the world what happened to them, at the hands of powerful and prominent men. These women are often suffering, reliving horrible experiences, all while being called liars by the men themselves, their lawyers, and their supporters. There is no glory here. Only pain. And maybe the hope that these revelations will eventually spark societal change. Already there’s been some evidence of that. But any major social shift is painful, and will likely involve further ugly backlash. People in positions of power and privilege tend to fight to maintain that privilege.

And nowhere does white male privilege put itself on full display more prominently than Donald Trump.

Go back through that list I wrote above. Read about these women. Follow the links I provided, and look at their stories. There are more detailed overviews of his crimes against women here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And listen to what Trump has admitted during interviews. And of course, read what Trump himself has said:

Referring to Nancy O’Dell, he stated, “I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture—I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

And in the same conversation, now about Arianne Zucker,  “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

These comments, recorded during the infamous Access Hollywood tape, confirm many of the behaviors described by his accusers.

Donald Trump has shown himself, through his words and actions, to be a sexual predator. It seems like Americans are now beginning to give up on the idea of giving power men a pass on these behaviors. At least, they seem to be in the entertainment and media fields. Yet, in politics – partisanship may still be protecting them for a time longer. Al Franken and John Conyers have not yet resigned. Roy Moore is still even money to win his current Senate race. Bill Clinton still holds a position of respect in the Democratic Party. And… Donald Trump is still President.

We’ll know the societal shift toward supporting women over predators is taking universal hold when it starts to triumph over political power. Until then, I intend to remind people about these accusations as often as possible. Supporting Donald Trump means complicity his behavior. These are the same behaviors that have brought down Harvey Weinstein. Is loyalty to one person or one party worth the suffering of – at least – 19 women? When will it be enough for his supporters to turn away from him?

About hbreck

Writer, debater, contrarian, storyteller, occasional troublemaker. I'm mostly just making things up as I go.
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