Well, who would have believed it: no prominent entertainment personalities or political figures have been accused today of sexual misconduct. It’s a holiday miracle.
It’s also only 10 a.m.
All of these recent revelations – Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Roy Moore, George Takei, John Conyers, Garrison Keillor, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose (this list is just off the top of my head; surely I’m missing some) have really been bothering me. Like, a lot. What’s pushed me over the edge is President Trump and the RNC’s triumphant endorsement of alleged child molester Roy Moore… because preventing a Democrat from taking that seat is more important than preventing girls from being assaulted. SWEET BABY JESUS.
The more I consider my exasperation, anger, and disappointment, the more I realize that what really gets me isn’t the terrible actions of these powerful, flawed, egomaniacal men — it’s how everyone around them has handled the knowledge of their disgusting misdeeds.
And when I say “everyone around them,” I mean all of us here in the USA.
All of us. Collectively. We’ve done this.
Obviously, collectively we’ve done this in our daily lives: we have created a society where men harass women on the regular. It is so commonplace, so much a part of the fabric of our tapestry, we often scarcely notice it. Heck, my 10 and 12 year-old daughters have been whistled at, asked by male classmates to hug them despite their protests, and told by boys that, “if you’re really my friend” they would always sit touching one another.
That’s just your basic, entry-level, don’t-bat-an-eyelash harassment; we’re not talking “serious” sexual harassment or assault or rape. We, collectively, have created an atmosphere where this is okay. We have done this.
What we’ve also done is turn a blind eye when sexual harassment occurs. From Hollywood to The Today Show to Congress, producers and reporters ignored the women who shared their stories or paid them off with taxpayer funding. For what? Ratings? Box office bluster? Protecting one’s ego no matter the souls sold?
The entertainers seem to have been particularly ruthless in their endeavors (with those in the know being willfully dishonest). It’s not just them, though. That there are people in Alabama who say that even if Roy Moore assaulted their own daughters, they would still vote for him… because even a children’s sexual predator is preferable to a Democrat… is effing MIND-BLOWING. I’d ask since when women have meant so little, but we know the answer to that one.
And it’s not just Republicans or conservatives, either. The Democrats and liberals who are positively bending over backward to find every possible excuse for how the cases of Al Franken and John Conyers are different than the others – especially in light of “all they’ve done” to help the Democratic cause – is absurd.
The hypocrisy makes me want to tear my hair out. Self-proclaimed “Christians” voting for a child molester. Members of Congress sniping at accused colleagues in the other party while ignoring wrongdoers in their own. Hollywood pretending that it’s a bastion of liberal, enlightened thinking as its members demean, degrade, and terrorize women – those who know pretend it never happened.
This is where we, collectively, come in: by continuing to support these men who behave so disgustingly badly. Whether it’s through our wallets, our retweets, or our election day choices, we as a nation allow these men to say, over and over and over again, that it doesn’t matter what they do so long as we, the people, get what we want elsewhere. Which means that we, the people, send the message – every. single. minute. of. every. single. day – that women don’t matter.
Our nation’s children are hearing this message loud and clear.
It happens every time we refuse to condemn what we know is wrong – every time we say, “It’s his word against hers;” every time we bemoan that women dare to mention something that happened “so long ago;” every time we ponder why women didn’t come forward sooner (because we believe them when they do, right? Because they’re treated fairly and with respect? Because there’s no stigma? No repercussions? HARDY EFFING HAR); every time we decide, “Yeah, he may have done that, but he’s also done X, so that makes it okay…,” we perpetuate the cycle of women being treated like shit. Every time, we tell women – every single one of us – that they do not matter. Or at least, they do not matter enough.
I understand how we’ve gotten to this place – but how we continue to remain here, in 2017, is mind boggling. What the hell? Seriously – WHAT. THE. HELL.
The solution seems to lie in making sure that once we know what these men have done, we do not support them or provide them a platform. We trash the magazines with Louis C.K. on the cover. We admit, “Kevin Spacey may have acted the hell out of Kaiser Soze, but he shouldn’t have gotten an Oscar because he is a garbage person.” We lament that Matt Lauer is no longer preening on that couch but agree that he is a piece of filth.
In government? We don’t elect them in the first place. Clarence Thomas (nope, haven’t forgotten him) should never have been selected for the Supreme Court. (I realize we didn’t elect him, but we elected the folks who voted him in – including Joe Biden, whom I deeply respect, but who was dead wrong to ignore the testimony of Thomas’s other accusers.). I don’t care how many of his decisions you endorse – they are crap, because he is wearing that robe on stolen time.
Lest you think I’m out to get conservatives in favor of Democrats: Bill Clinton never should have been elected. I think he served our country well. And I also think, because of his numerous assaults on women, that he never should have been President. WE KNEW what he was… but we elected him anyway. We did that.
Likewise with Donald Trump. Not because of any of the other gazillion reasons for disliking him, but because his abominable predatory behavior should automatically have disqualified him.
You know how when you’re looking to buy a car and you absolutely need seating for eight because you’ve got six kids or you’re the basketball team driver or whatever and the salesperson says, “Check out these shiny bells and whistles! This is the best car ever!” And you’re like, “Those bells and whistles are sweet, but this car only has seats five. I need seating for eight.” And the salesperson is all, “BUT LOOK AT THIS LEATHER! And the rearview camera! And it folds your clothes as you drive!” And you think, “Man, I could really use a clothes-folding car…”
But you absolutely have to have eight seats – it’s a nonstarter, a deal breaker – so you turn it down. Even though it is otherwise your dream car. Even though the only other car on the lot makes your skin crawl. Even if it means you have to walk home with no car at all: you cannot get a car that betrays one of your fundamental requirements. You don’t even consider it.
Donald Trump was our leathery, clothes-folding five-seater car and his refusal should have happened well before election day. “Well, we’ve got this Republican and this Republican and a sexual harasser – oops. That’s one line we can never cross. That’s a deal breaker.” ASSAULTING WOMEN SHOULD ALWAYS BE A DEAL BREAKER.
Instead, we’ve told women that they don’t matter enough. The highest office in the nation is held by a man who openly admitted to groping women without their consent. Why on earth do women think they’ll be heard and valued when the most powerful man in the world behaves otherwise – and he was chosen to represent us?
We did this.
We can also UNdo this. Maybe not for Trump, but from here on out. We can come together to say, “If you have harassed, demeaned, assaulted or preyed upon women, you are disqualified – from office, from directing movies, from hosting television programs. We don’t care what other terrific qualities you may have or what you might accomplish, because your treatment of women renders you unfit for your position. We realize that this may leave us with other folks with whom we vehemently disagree, but hey – they didn’t treat women like shit, and you did, so we’ll have to figure out how to work with them (*gasp*). You literally leave us no choice because we will never choose someone who’s done that. It’s a deal-breaker.”
John Conyers “retired” this week. He did many important and fundamentally good things in his more than 50 years serving this country. He also needed to go, and even though he didn’t call it “resigning,” I’m glad he did. It was the right thing to do.
Now let’s cross our fingers and see how many other politicians follow his lead. In the meantime, don’t hold your breath… and if you’re a woman, bring pepper spray.