We are living in a watershed moment. Following decades of living in silent shame, women are striking back. And sexual predators in the workplace, along with their enablers―in politics, business, the media and even Hollywood―are falling like tenpins. We owe this day of reckoning to the Predator-in-chief, Donald Trump.
The catalyst for this ongoing revolution was the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Trump admitted that it was his voice on the tape and indicated that he might start kissing a woman he was about to meet during filming, and then said:
“I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything…grab them by the pussy.”
This taped conversation was not just locker room banter as suggested by Trump. On the contrary, it revealed “power” as the only item in the predator’s toolbox. Power allowed this man to fondle or otherwise assault any woman in any place; planes, trains, cars, and even in the public foyers of his hotels. It allowed him to enter the dressing rooms of beauty pageants he hosted and ogle the bodies of 13 and 14 year-old girls in various stages of undress.
The “victimized woman” narrative began several generations ago when women left their homes and the safety of domestic tranquility to enter factories in support of the war effort during World War II. Rosy the Riveter became an American icon. The war ended and even more women entered the work force. Whatever the reason for subjecting themselves to the power vested in supervisory authority, we now understand that women have been degraded, harassed, marginalized and even molested by their male superiors. And for decades, this activity was ignored by the public. Such failure only served to empower predators in the work place; if a woman wanted a job, or any other opportunity, she was forced to swallow her pride, submit to unwanted advances, and keep her mouth shut.
There were some scattered successes in the fight against work place predators: the 20 million dollar settlement achieved by Gretchen Carlson against Roger Ailes and Fox News comes to mind. But it was Donald Trump who brewed up the perfect storm for women’s rights. One day after Trump’s Inauguration Day festivities―before a smallish gathering by recent standards―a crowd estimated at 500,000 pink-hatted women stormed Washington D.C. to protest the swearing in of an admitted sexual predator.
The next notable gathering came in an off-year election in the state of Virginia. Women stood in line for hours in a steady rain to cast their ballots. While the issue uppermost in the minds of these voters was health care, it was generally agreed by most commentators, and supported by data, that these women were braving the elements to cast a vote against the Predator-in-chief. Non-married women went for the Democratic candidate by a 77-22 per cent margin.
Donald Trump filled the dam, but Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates. Anyone with a wife, daughter or granddaughter who has been subjected to the cowardly advances of predators in the work place should want to take these creeps out behind the woodshed and beat them within an inch of their lives. Indeed, if you heard the tape of that sting operation against Weinstein by the New York City Police Department, and did not get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, then you are part of the deliberately indifferent crowd that has been empowering these predators for decades. Weinstein is a rapist and belongs in jail.
The list of exposed predators grows longer each day. Fox News paid out huge settlements to the victims of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. The corporate parent of Fox News, Twenty-First Century Fox, likewise paid out a $90 million settlement to shareholders for complicity in the Fox News scandal. U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, a man who was twice removed from Alabama courts for misconduct, was exposed as a predator of teenage girls when he was in his 30’s. Specifically, one Leigh Corfman, a 14 year-old girl at the time, alleged that 32 year-old Moore took her to his home in the woods, undressed her, and attempted to seduce her. As a matter of law, this conduct defines Moore as a pedophile. Next comes U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) who admitted to improper sexual activities directed at a female radio station personality while on a U.S.O. trip abroad. New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended after allegations of unwanted sexual activity by four female journalists at Thrush’s previous employer, Politico. Next came the biggest fish of all, formerly much revered Emmy and Peabody Award winning journalist Charlie Rose. Rose was suspended from the PBS news program he hosted, and suspended from his co-anchor job at CBS news after disturbing allegations of predatory sexual behavior toward several women.
While the purge of predators from every workplace in America is just beginning, we can nevertheless thank Donald Trump for setting the stage. The year 2017 will go down in history as the Year of the Woman, and there remains only one message to be delivered: “GO GIRL!” Decent men everywhere support your cause.