Granted, the man has said many ridiculous things over the last few months – the Mexican wall, those idiotic comments on Isis, telling the New York Times journalists that “they don’t write good”, those painfully insensitive comments directed at the parents of a fallen American solider. At this point his comments just wash over us; we’ve become immune to his ridiculousness, which is not a good thing by the way.
Ivanka Trump spoke powerfully at the Republican National Convention on her father’s commitment to a gender-equal workplace, promising that, as President, he will “change the labour laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce … [and] he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all.”That all sounds great but the man has not said any of this, as in not a peep. His response to a question on affordable childcare? “I love children!”, shortly following by a very belittling “it’s a big subject, darling”.
So, this week he broke new ground for the Trump campaign – he actually spoke about women in the workplace. If you’re having a momentary “Maybe the Wizard of Oz gave Trump a brain and all is not as lost as it seems,” hold your horses. When asked by USA Today how he would feel if Ivanka faced sexual harassment in the workplace his response was infuriating, even by our numbed Trump standards.
“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company
if that was the case.”
Just let that settle in. His daughter – who looks to be his pride and joy, an extremely successful businesswoman who has fought for gender equality in the workplace and who is easily the most articulate person in his entire campaign – ought to just pick another career if she were to have men inappropriately hitting on her, wolf-whistling, making lewd gestures or sexual jokes in her direction?
Before we even had time to simmer down after such ridiculous remarks – does he even know how few women would actually still be in the workplace if they walked away every time that happened? – his son piped up. Eric Trump told CNBC’s John Harwood that a “strong, powerful woman” like his sister wouldn’t “allow such harassment to occur” in the first place, so the question is essentially moot.
“Allow”? ALLOW?! There are so many layers of misogyny, arrogance, willful ignorance and blatant victim-blaming here that’s difficult to pinpoint just one thing that’s wrong with these statements.
First off, Trump’s suggestion that she move job, aside from the fact that most people don’t have financial capabilities to just walk away from their career, implies that if Ivanka is incapable of handling sexual harassment then she’s not deserving of her current role. That the onus is on the woman to ‘rise above’ these experiences, as opposed to men being taught not to make unwanted and inappropriate comments about their female colleagues? He’s essentially telling his own daughter that her career is more important than her workplace safety, job satisfaction, and mental health. Switch “sexual harassment” for “workplace accident caused by the negligence of a co-worker” and you’ve got a solid case for legal action.
And what Trump Jr said only adds to the sheer chauvinism of it all. He’s not even implying, he’s actually SAYING that Ivanka is so “strong” that it wouldn’t happen to her. Therefore, only weak, pathetic women, who crave the attention for their male co-workers are the ones who might experience sexual harassment, and let’s be honest, they were kind of asking for it.
God, that sentence makes me gag.
Being quote-unquote “powerful” does not exempt you from sexual harassment, abuse or assault of any nature. Strength and power come from how you react to it, as a victim, a human, a member of a community and society as a whole. That might mean you need to curl up and protect yourself in order to recover, or you simply can’t afford to report it right now, or, like the Standford swimmer victim, you use your pain to make clear injustices you’ve suffered, hope that your honesty will remove the guilt and shame from future victims and help future courts understand the full emotional and physiological extent of it.
Whatever the situation, your own survival and desire to thrive is your strength.
And for the love of all that is true and just, if you can, vote Hillary.