A new climate
Even Steve Bannon says women are angry and ready to vote for change, and it’s hard to argue he’s wrong. In a new edition of Joshua Green’s book Devil’s Bargain, released last week, the bombastic Bannon says women are evolving into a political force that will “undo ten thousand years of recorded history.” Elaborating on his views in an interview on Bloomberg, he said he believes that women’s anger is “going to unfold like the Tea Party, only bigger. It’s not Me Too. It’s not just sexual harassment. It’s an anti-patriarchy movement.”
Right again, Mr. Bannon.
Every week seems to bring more high-profile cases of domestic violence, sexual harassment and behavior that goes far beyond the boorish “boys will be boys” attitude that our society has quietly condoned for decades. Powerful men who have bullied and intimidated and, in some cases, sexually assaulted women in pursuit of their demented need to prove their power are now experiencing mighty consequences, from public humiliation to a sudden loss of employment, status and wealth.
It’s deeply satisfying to watch these powerful men be confronted with their past actions, even though their stock response is to deny and project blame onto the women involved. But few seem to be buying their obfuscation and lies anymore. It’s unbelievably refreshing.
But it’s frustrating but not surprising that our very own liar-in-chief, President Trump, is still in denial about men behaving badly, especially because he has not been held accountable for his own actions despite plenty of evidence of wrong-doing.
After Rob Porter—a Harvard-educated lawyer working in a high-level White House staff job despite his inability to pass the required FBI background check due to credible accusations of domestic abuse by not one, but two ex-wives—was forced out of his job by the scandal, President Trump defended him because Porter said he didn’t do it. Trump told reporters, “It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.” Trump’s Chief-of-Staff, John Kelly, initially called Porter a “man of integrity and honor” but after photos of the physical abuse surfaced, he suddenly declared he was “shocked.”
After another White House employee, David Sorensen, also resigned when domestic abuse allegations by his wife were revealed, which of course he denied, Trump tweeted, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. … There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
The irony of his statement is completely lost on the president, who has made quiet payments to aggrieved women to cover up his transgressions. Trump’s denial of responsibility runs so deep in his pathology, he has suggested the famous tape of his obscene and vulgar commentary in the mini-bus with Billy Bush wasn’t really him, even though his image and corresponding voice were easily validated by the most casual viewer. And, indeed, we all saw and heard the appalling tape, over and over and over.
We know that domestic violence is rooted in power and control, and in this political climate, women have had more than enough. Even the grandiose Bannon understands that the tipping point has been reached, commenting “Time’s up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real.”
Trump and the GOP will know it’s real when women vote their indignation and outrage in November, elevating record numbers of women to elected office. Trump will never admit his own misogyny, but women can still punish him for it.