Most of my friends were vehemently opposed to Donald Trump for one reason above all others. While disgusting xenophobic rhetoric was appalling and his lack of intellect deeply troubling, it was his attitude and behavior towards women that made Trump a mortal enemy.
This was after all a man who had been accused by his ex wife of raping her, caught on tape talking about sexually assaulting women, and had 15 women come forward with stories of him groping them. Not only that, Trump’s language towards women was also vile. “Fat”, “pig”, “dog”, “slob”, “disgusting animal” were some of the terms he used to describe members of the opposite sex. He displayed a bizarre obsession with women and blood, and stated no one would vote for former rival Carly Fiorina because of her face. For anyone with a modicum of respect for women, Trump wasn’t just politically toxic, he was a serious threat to women and had to be defeated at all costs.
When Trump was elected, it seemed that the white male patriarchy was more than just alive and well — it had returned to all its former glory and was about to wreak havoc on women’s rights and the progress made over the past century. Trump moved quickly to stack his administration with misogynistic bigots who were dedicated to rolling back women’s rights, confirming everyone’s worst fears about the administration.
The fight to preserve women’s rights is ongoing, and thanks to a rapidly mobilizing movement, Trump will have his hands full getting anything passed. But the battle against Trump is more than just policy — it is symbolic. We have a sexual predator in the White House, and his mere presence in the highest office of the land is a reminder that we are not even close to where we need to be as a society.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has for many people re-opened the wounds of Trump’s presidency. The powerful Hollywood mogul is another white, powerful male who used his wealth and power to intimidate women and sexually assault them. Like Trump, Weinstein believed he was untouchable, thriving in an industry that protected him and suppressed those who tried to speak out. But the appetite for this type of appeasement has hit rock bottom in recent months, and Weinstein is now bearing the brunt of all the rage built up over the past year — and deservedly so. Trump and Weinstein represent the tip of the iceberg, and many, many more heads are about to roll.
While Hollywood must acknowledge the rampant sex abuse that exists in its boardrooms and studios (and hotel rooms apparently), it should be given some credit for rapidly turning its back on Weinstein. The mogul’s fall from grace has been faster and more spectacular than Bill Cosby and Donald Trump’s combined, and almost no one in the industry will have anything to do with him. This is likely more a reflection of the growing women’s movement in the US that grew so rapidly after the election of Donald Trump than the moral courage of the industry, but we should not at least acknowledge that it is finally doing the right thing and looking inward at the festering misogyny that has existed for so long.
Now that Harvey Weinstein has been expunged from public life and had his career irreversibly ruined, it is time Washington did the same. And like Hollywood turned its back on Weinstein, Washington must turn its back on Donald Trump. The energy rippling through the country in response to Weinstein’s disgusting behavior must be channeled again back at the White House and towards those responsible for supporting and protecting the president. There is no law dictating that the country has to be run by a revolting sex predator, and he can be taken down just as easily as Harvey Weinstein was. All it takes is for people to stand up and refuse to be complicit. Trump survives because we allow him to, because enough men (and sadly women) have internalized the misogyny he represents and have normalized it.
The #MeToo chain started by actress Alyssa Milano urging sexual abuse victims to come forward taking off on social media serves as a wake up call to all those who supported Trump and all those who seek to minimize sexual assault. Many will be surprised at how many of their female friends have suffered some sort of sexual abuse/assault or harassment, and it could spur an awakening the likes of which hasn’t been seen in decades. It takes courage to speak out about abuse, but with millions of others now doing so, the shame can be shared and diminished. If your Facebook newsfeed is filled with friends talking about their experience of sexual assault or harassment, you should now understand how prevalent this type of behavior is. And you can do something about it by insisting your government doesn’t condone misogyny or the abuse of women in any shape or form. And that starts with men who say things like this:
I did try and fuck her. She was married….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….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.
No, you can’t, and it’s time we stopped those who still believe they can.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.