Donald Trump’s support of deposed mogul Roger Ailes has been strangely under-reported. When Trump was asked about the allegations surrounding Ailes, Trump said: “Well I don’t want to comment. But he’s been a friend of mine for a really long time. And I can tell you that some of the women who are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them.”
That is among the worst possible ways to defend a “friend” accused of sexual harassment. You’ll note that Trump is not saying that he doesn’t believe Ailes harassed these women, he’s saying that if he did, it’s okay because he “helped” his victims.
Trump “stands by” his comments, because Trump thinks second thoughts are a sign of weakness.
Yesterday, he decided to reveal additional ignorance about sexual harassment. When asked about how he would feel if Ivanka were treated the same way Ailes is accused of treating his employees, Trump told U.S.A. Today:
“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”
Obviously, Trump here mistakes the economic mobility of his wealthy daughter with that of most American women. Obviously, Trump here reveals that he has no concept of a world where a women’s salary is economically crucial to the family. And obviously, Trump is blaming women who are sexually harassed instead of the men who harass them.
But all of that is somewhat besides the point. Because the larger issue that Trump doesn’t even get is that Ivanka shouldn’t have to. Women should not have to find alternate careers to avoid sexual harassment. That is an unacceptable standard in a free, modern society.
WHAT KIND OF FATHER tells his daughter to find another career if she is the victim of crime in the workplace? What kind of parent tells their children, of any gender, to abandon their profession if their boss refuses to acknowledge their basic human rights? We have workplace laws in this country specifically so employees aren’t harassed right out of the workforce by hostile employers.
The hypocrisy of Donald Trump here is also unbelievable. Trump, we know, is a man who will sue somebody at the drop of a hat. He spends half of his time on television bitching about how he’s being treated “unfairly.” But he doesn’t say he’d tell his daughter to sue to protect her rights. He doesn’t say his daughter would demand fair treatment in a court of law. No, he’s saying that women should just retreat from their life’s work and find something else to do if they don’t like how they’re being treated.
Ivanka should not have to find another job because her boss illegally harasses her. If Trump won’t defend his own daughter, where does that leave the American employee under a Trump administration?
While Papa Trump was busy telling his daughter she has no rights worth fighting for, Brother Trump went in the opposite direction and revealed that his sister was protected by magic strength we should all aspire to. Eric or Don Jr. or Gimli or Dopey (they all look the same to me) offered this cacophony of good words to Charlie Rose:
I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s a point he was making, and I think he did so well.
In a way, “she wouldn’t allow herself to be objected to it,” is the turn of phrase that explains the Trump worldview on sexual harassment. Men are the subjects, women are their objects to be sexually acted upon. It is up to the female/object to... object if they don’t like it.
It is classic legal burden shifting.
The through line between Roger Ailes, Trump’s “he helped them” defense, the judicial philosophy of Samuel Alito, and the first ape who groped another ape is: “She was cool with it.” That’s the subtext here, and in pretty much every case of sexual harassment. A sexual harasser could be stabbed to death by a female co-worker, and as he lies gutted on the break room floor, his last words would be “I thought that bitch was cool with it.”
Eric is saying that his sister wouldn’t have been cool with it. Thus, his sister could not be sexually harassed. In his world, sexual harassment is a state of mind, not an objective hostility present in the workplace.
Trump is, of course, completely wrong. Ivanka Trump could be a victim of sexual harassment even if she complained to Human Resources, quit her job, bought the company, and made her former harasser walk her dog while wearing a bunny costume. The Trumps think we should focus on a woman’s response to harassment, instead of the inappropriate workplace behavior.
If the Trump line of reasoning makes sense to you, you sir, are a dick. Your sons will be dicks. Your daughters will enter a workforce full of dicks. And you are probably not wealthy enough to leave your hobbled progeny enough money to buy their way out of their problems like the Trumps.