It’s not just Donnie and Harve, folks
I haven’t written much about the Weinstein charges, mostly because I’m terrified that we are about to start nuclear war and I only have so much bandwidth. But since I worked in the Indie film business for a couple of decades, people have asked me what I think.
I think Weinstein is a pig and a criminal, of course. Worse than many other criminal pigs in this town in some respects but really it’s only a matter of degree. Treating women like sex slaves and sado-masochistic playthings is common in Hollywood although I certainly experienced it in other jobs too. It is an everyday aspect of the workplace for women regardless of field although the entertainment, media and politics businesses are arguably worse because the opportunities are so much rarer. If you say something you’d better be prepared to change careers.
Anyway, the election made me realize that I had assumed things had gotten demonstrably better than when I was young and that I was wrong about that. We have made little progress in this regard. So, the Weinstein allegations are not shocking to me and I don’t imagine it’s going to change much. After all, 63 million people just voted for a president who admitted to sexually assaulting women and nearly a dozen came forward to say that he had done it to them. Many more were rumored to have decided that taking on the GOP nominee for president of the United States was too risky. (Imagine that.)
Anyway, on the morning after the election I was sitting on my couch, shellshocked and crying, and I said to my husband, “I can’t believe they hate us so much.” He asked what I meant and I said, “women — they hate women.”
Later that day I read this piece by Michelle Goldberg and realized that I wasn’t the only woman in America who had that reaction:
Forty-six years ago, Germaine Greer wrote in The Female Eunuch, “Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.” Well, now we do.
On Tuesday, faced with a choice between a highly competent if uncharismatic female candidate and the deranged distillation of the angry white male id, America chose the latter. (Or, at least, the Americans whose votes count most in the Electoral College chose the latter: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.) We don’t yet have a full picture of the electorate, but according to exit polls published by the New York Times, 54 percent of women voted for Clinton while 53 percent of men chose Donald Trump. Men—joined by white women, a majority of whom voted for Trump—banded together to award the presidency to the most shamelessly misogynist candidate in modern history. They’ve given us a kakistrocracy because they couldn’t bear the sound of Clinton’s voice.
The fact that white women displayed so little gender solidarity is not that surprising; many women have always identified more with their race or religion than their sex. Near Trump Tower in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, I saw a vendor selling buttons that read “Hot Chicks Vote Republican.” Women at Trump rallies donned shirts emblazoned with “Adorable Deplorable.” Given what our society values in women, it’s understandable that large numbers of women wouldn’t want to see themselves in someone reviled as shrill and unfuckable. Writing in the Atlantic earlier this year, Peter Beinart surveyed some of the academic literature on the anxieties that powerful women provoke in both genders. “A 2010 study by Victoria L. Brescoll and Tyler G. Okimoto found that people’s views of a fictional male state senator did not change when they were told he was ambitious,” he wrote. “When told that a fictional female state senator was ambitious, however, men and women alike ‘experienced feelings of moral outrage,’ such as contempt, anger, and disgust.” The rage is more aggressive in men, but it’s there in women, too.
As those of us opposed to Trump and Trumpism absorb the trauma of what happened in America on Tuesday night, there are going to be vicious recriminations on the left. I don’t begrudge any Bernie Sanders supporters the consolation of thinking that their man could have saved us from this calamity. All of us are grieving, trying to make sense of the worst thing to happen to our country in modern history. All I can say is that I’ve been to Trump rallies in the Midwest, South, and Northeast, and I never saw a single sign or T-shirt about free trade. I never heard chants about NAFTA or TPP. What I heard was “Trump That Bitch” and “Build That Wall.” When Clinton delivered her heart-shredding concession speech, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange reportedly booed and chanted “Lock her up!” They know Trump’s victory was no rebellion against Wall Street.
Over the summer, University of Michigan researchers Carly Wayne, Nicholas Valentino, and Marzia Oceno surveyed 700 citizens, asking them whether they agreed or disagreed with statements such as, “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.” As they wrote in the Washington Post, the researchers found that “sexism was strongly and significantly correlated with support for Trump, even after accounting for party identification, ideology, authoritarianism and ethnocentrism.” It’s striking that Zephyr Teachout, perhaps the congressional candidate most closely aligned with Sanders’ ideology, lost her upstate New York House race by a significant margin. Maybe Sanders could have won the general election—but not because his politics were better than Clinton’s, even though they were.
Had Clinton won, she would have done more than shatter the glass ceiling. For 25 years, she has been a synecdoche for unseemly female ambition. (In 1996, a 4,000-word Weekly Standard essay titled “The Feminization of America” ended with these words: “To put it more simply, Hillary is welcoming men to their new role as the second sex.”) Clinton ran for president on an explicitly feminist platform and promised a half-female Cabinet. Her victory would have been a sign that the gender hierarchy that has always been fundamental to our society—that has always been fundamental to most societies—was starting to crumble. It would have meant that men no longer rule. We have to come to terms with the fact that a majority of men would rather burn this country to the ground than let that happen.
One optimistic assumption undergirding the Clinton campaign was that we were moving toward a world in which gender would become less and less of a fetter on the shape of our lives. In such a world, women would have as much claim to leadership and full citizenship as men. Two weeks before the election, I went to a rally that Clinton and Michelle Obama held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They were introduced by women: former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Democratic Senate candidate Deborah Ross. “Little girls hear the ugly things that have been said about women in this campaign, and it makes them feel terrible and doubt themselves,” Clinton said, and it struck me as unusual for a politician to speak about little girls’ feelings as a matter of political significance. For one afternoon, the rally offered a vision of what political stagecraft might look like if it were practiced by women and for women. Looking around, I thought, Maybe this is how politics feel for men all the time. And then I thought, No wonder they don’t want to give it up.
Still, I thought we were going to get there. I thought my daughter was not going to be consigned to a lesser life than my son. I no longer do. We are going to lose Roe v. Wade. There will be no push for paid leave (whatever Ivanka Trump might promise) or a higher minimum wage. If Trump’s campaign is any indication, our new administration will be a priapic junta. Roger Ailes was too toxic to remain at Fox News but not too toxic to be a close Trump adviser. Campaign CEO Steve Bannon has been charged with domestic violence and accused of sexual harassment. As Indiana governor, Vice President–elect Mike Pence signed a cruel law mandating the burial or cremation of miscarried fetuses. Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed a female reporter so hard he left bruises on her arm, then tried to smear her as “delusional.” Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller took journalists to a strip club the night before the Las Vegas debate. “Women, you have to treat them like shit,” Trump once said. It might be America’s new unofficial motto.
That’s the way it is. All you have to do is look at CNN’s coverage of this issue, dogging Hillary Clinton for comment and then insisting that it wasn’t good enough (of course) to understand why I think all the handwringing over Weinstein is actually just another bit of kabuki to pretend like something is changing when in reality it will just end up denying women career opportunities because men won’t hire them (and their insurance companies will tell them not to.)
Women will pay the price for Harvey’s sins again and for a long time to come, just you wait.
Here are just few quotes on the subject by the man who is sitting in the White House in 2016:
“I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?” Trump is quoted as saying of his then-wife in a 1990 Vanity Fair piece.
“Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.” Trump 101: The Way to Success
“It’s certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on ‘The Apprentice’ were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal.” — How To Get Rich
“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” — from an interview with Esquire
“I mean, we could say politically correct that look doesn’t matter, but the look obviously matters,” Trump said to a female reporter in a clip featured on “Last Week Tonight.” “Like you wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t beautiful.”
“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” — Twitter, 2015
“The most difficult aspect of the prenuptial agreement is informing your future wife (or husband): I love you very much, but just in case things don’t work out, this is what you will get in the divorce. There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else. The other is the calculating woman who refuses to sign the prenuptial agreement because she is expecting to take advantage of the poor, unsuspecting sucker she’s got in her grasp. There is also the woman who will openly and quickly sign a prenuptial agreement in order to make a quick hit and take the money given to her.” —Trump: The Art of the Comeback
“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” — Trump: The Art of the Comeback.
“[Angelina Jolie’s] been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby… And, I just don’t even find her attractive,” he said in an interview with Larry King in 2006.
“My favorite part [of ‘Pulp Fiction’] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bitch to be cool. Say: ‘Bitch be cool.’ I love those lines.” — TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, 2005
New York Times columnist Gail Collins recalled: “During one down period, I referred to him in print as a ‘financially embattled thousandaire’ and he sent me a copy of the column with my picture circled and ‘The Face of a Dog!’ written over it.”
“Cher is an average talent who’s out of touch with reality,” he said in a 2012 Fox News interview. “Cher is somewhat of a loser. She’s lonely. She’s unhappy. She’s very miserable.”
“Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred,” Trump said about himself one time. “Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money.”
“All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me — consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” — How To Get Rich, 2004
And then there was this, of course:
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. 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. You can do anything.”
Yes, he can.
All that was on the record before he won the election. And since it was settled the media has has spent most of their time blaming the woman who ran against him for failing to apologize for her alleged failings. You’ll have to forgive me for not spending a lot of time fulminating about a piggish movie producer when we have an unfit demagogic moron in the White House who’s threatening to incinerate the planet largely because too many people voted for this documented sexual predator over a qualified woman. The problem runs a lot deeper than Hollywood.