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