Crime News Service: Donald Trump knows how rape culture operates, and he’s taking advantage of it.
In an attempt to deflect attention from the cascading sexual assault accusations piling up against him, Trump took the national stage and insulted the looks, credibility, and integrity of the women who dared to come forward with their stories. The candidate is used to blaming others for his problems, but his reaction to these allegations is rather unique.
Trump isn’t just trying to attack these women; he’s signaling to others who may come forward. By metaphorically naming and shaming them, and implicitly inviting his followers (who have a history of horrifying harassment) to do the same, he wants to terrify any other women from coming forward too.
In the past 24 hours, we’ve witnessed a master class in the way powerful men get away with assault, harassment, and abuse of their power. During his first speech since his his accusers went public, Trump told a crowd of his supporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach that he was in fact the victim and one by one called all of the women liars. In a speech that was both painful and at times sickening to listen to, Trump proved exactly why women often avoid reporting assault: the very present fear that they will be publicly shamed — especially when it comes to Trump accusers — for doing so.
“These vicious claims about me, of inappropriate conduct with women, are totally and absolutely false,” he shouted a cheering crowd of supporters. He said the women’s claims were “all fabricated” and that he has evidence to prove it.
Similar to the dozens of accusers who were asked why they waited decades to report Bill Cosby’s alleged attacks, Trump laughed off some allegations because the women didn’t immediately report them.
“Why wasn’t it part of the story that appeared 20 or 12 years ago? Why wasn’t it part of the story?” he asked. “I was one of the biggest stars on television with The Apprentice, and I would have been one of the biggest stories of the year,” he said seemingly existing in an alternative reality where the more powerful the guy who abuses you, the cooler it is to report it.
Trump spokesperson A.J. Delgado made a similar claim while I was on set Wednesday night with Chris Hayes, when she said, “If somebody actually did that, Chris, any reasonable woman would have come forward and said something at the time.”
Any reasonable woman?
Was it reasonable for Jessica Leeds to come forward about her sexual assault only to have Lou Dobbs tweet her personal phone number and address, exposing her private information to his hundreds of thousands of followers? Was it reasonable for Natasha Stoynoff to come forward about her sexual assault only to have Donald Trump suggest she was too ugly for him to be interested in sexually assault her?
Given the way allegations are treated generally, it’s tough to say it’s reasonable for women to pursue complaints against their abusers. It’s actually extremely painful and often doesn’t even lead to justice, even in high-profile cases where women corroborate information. Take, for instance, the case against acclaimed broadcaster Jian Gomeshi where none of his accusers received justice, despite all the evidence against him.
Donald Trump has gotten away with nearly everything for which any conventional candidate would have been raked over the coals throughout his campaign. He’s encouraged his supporters to assassinate Hillary Clinton. He has repeatedly threatened to imprison Clinton if he wins the presidency; he insulted a Gold Star family and shamed a human being for having a disability. Given everything that we’ve let him get away with so far, it wouldn’t even be shocking that most of his supporters are still with him. Paul Ryan still is!
Trump may leave this scandal unscathed, but the women who are accusing him won’t. If a woman who wrote a critical story about Melania Trump received death threats, what do you think the women who are accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault are dealing with? I fear for their reputation, their privacy and their safety, and I sincerely hope that they are getting support.
What Trump did Thursday during his speech is launch a metaphorical witch hunt against the women who are claiming he assaulted them and any other women who were thinking of coming forward. It offered us a look at why so little women report and what kind of behavior men can engage in when they know that.
I didn’t report my first sexual assault because I was 9. I didn’t report my second sexual assault because I was 14. I didn’t report my third sexual assault because by the time it happened, I had internalized the idea that my body no longer belonged to me. There are plenty of reasons women and girls don’t report. What’s yours? Use the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport to share your own.
Donald Trump: the latest accusations
Women come forward to make allegations against Republican presidential candidate. Donald Trump’s bid for the US presidency is reeling from fresh allegations about sexually aggressive behavior, with several women coming forward with personal accounts of being groped by the property billionaire.
The Trump campaign has denied all the allegations listed here:
● Jessica Leeds told the New York Times she was groped by the tycoon while on a flight to New York in the 1980s describing him as “like an octopus — it was like he had six arms, he was all over the place”.
“If he had stuck with the upper part of my body, I might not have gotten that upset but it was when he started putting his hand up my skirt. That was it.”
In another New York Times interview, Rachel Crooks said as a 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate investment and development company located in Trump Tower, she introduced herself to Mr Trump when they were in an elevator.
They shook hands, Ms Crooks said, and Trump would not let go. Instead, she said, he began kissing her — on the cheeks and on the mouth. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that,” she said.
Mr Trump demanded that the New York Times retract its story, which his lawyers said was a “politically motivated” and libelous effort to destroy his campaign. The Trump campaign said the New York Times story was “fiction”.
● People Magazine ran an essay by one of its staff reporters who said Mr Trump forced himself on her shortly before she was due to interview him and his wife for a feature on their first wedding anniversary.
The Trump campaign denied the allegations. “There is no merit or veracity to this fictional story,” said Hope Hicks, spokesperson for Mr Trump
● CBS News on Tuesday unearthed a 1992 video filmed at Trump Tower. At one point, Mr Trump asks one of a group of 10-year-old girls if she is going to use the lift. When she tells him she is, he looks into the camera and says: “I’m am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”
● The Palm Beach Post, a newspaper in Florida, quoted Mindy McGillivray who said she had been groped at Mr Trump’s Florida residence 13 years ago. Ms Hicks said there was “no truth” to the claim.
● BuzzFeed interviewed four women who said Mr Trump had walked into their dressing room during the 1997 Miss Teen USA competition, one of a number of beauty pageant franchises owned by the billionaire.
“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here’,” Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA told BuzzFeed. Mr Trump’s alleged response? “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”
The Trump campaign responded saying: “These accusations have no merit and have already been disproven by many other individuals who were present. When you see questionable attacks like this magically put out there in the final month of a presidential campaign, you have to ask yourself what the political motivations really are and why the media is pushing it.”
CNN published a 2005 tape of Mr Trump bragging to shock-jock Howard Stern about walking into contestants’ dressing rooms when they were naked or half-naked. He told Mr Stern that owning the Miss Universe competition allowed him to “get away with” walking into the contest’s dressing room while the women were naked or in the middle of changing.
Yahoo reports that NBC is under pressure to release tapes of The Apprentice, the reality show which Mr Trump hosted.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved.
©2016 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR).