Time Person of the Year 2017: The silence breakers

Time reports: Discussions of sexual harassment in polite company tend to rely on euphemisms: harassment becomes “inappropriate behavior,” assault becomes “misconduct,” rape becomes “abuse.” We’re accustomed to hearing those softened words, which downplay the pain of the experience. That’s one of the reasons why the Access Hollywood tape that surfaced in October 2016 was such a jolt. The language used by the man who would become America’s 45th President, captured on a 2005 recording, was, by any standard, vulgar. He didn’t just say that he’d made a pass; he “moved on her like a bitch.” He didn’t just talk about fondling women; he bragged that he could “grab ’em by the pussy.”

That Donald Trump could express himself that way and still be elected President is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women’s March the day after his Inauguration. It’s why women seized on that crude word as the emblem of the protest that dwarfed Trump’s Inauguration crowd size. “All social movements have highly visible precipitating factors,” says Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “In this case, you had Harvey Weinstein, and before that you had Trump.”

Megyn Kelly, the NBC anchor who revealed in October that she had complained to Fox News executives about Bill O’Reilly’s treatment of women, and who was a target of Trump’s ire during the campaign, says the tape as well as the tenor of the election turned the political into the personal. “I have real doubts about whether we’d be going through this if Hillary Clinton had won, because I think that President Trump’s election in many ways was a setback for women,” says Kelly, who noted that not all women at the march were Clinton supporters. “But the overall message to us was that we don’t really matter.”

So it was not entirely surprising that 2017 began with women donning “pussy hats” and marching on the nation’s capital in a show of unity and fury. What was startling was the size of the protest. It was one of the largest in U.S. history and spawned satellite marches in all 50 states and more than 50 other countries.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, was one of roughly 20 women to accuse the President of sexual harassment. She filed a defamation suit against Trump days before his Inauguration after he disputed her claims by calling her a liar. A New York judge is expected to decide soon if the President is immune to civil suits while in office. No matter the outcome, the allegations added fuel to a growing fire. [Continue reading…]

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Twelve Senate Democrats call on Franken to resign amid further allegations of sexual harassment

The Washington Post reports: A dozen Senate Democrats called Wednesday for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment, raising the possibility he will become the second lawmaker to step aside over recent accusations of inappropriate behavior.

Franken’s office said he would make an announcement about his political future on Thursday. No other details were provided.

In a campaign started by Democratic women, nearly a dozen senators said Franken should leave Capitol Hill. Franken faces multiple accusations of inappropriate touching and unwanted advances. He has denied intentional wrongdoing and has apologized.

“Enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told reporters at a news conference. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable. We as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard, and we should fundamentally be valuing women. That is where this debate has to go.” [Continue reading…]

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Weinstein’s complicity machine

The New York Times reports: Harvey Weinstein built his complicity machine out of the witting, the unwitting and those in between. He commanded enablers, silencers and spies, warning others who discovered his secrets to say nothing. He courted those who could provide the money or prestige to enhance his reputation as well as his power to intimidate.

In the weeks and months before allegations of his methodical abuse of women were exposed in October, Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, pulled on all the levers of his carefully constructed apparatus.

He gathered ammunition, sometimes helped by the editor of The National Enquirer, who had dispatched reporters to find information that could undermine accusers. He turned to old allies, asking a partner in Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s premier talent shops, to broker a meeting with a C.A.A. client, Ronan Farrow, who was reporting on Mr. Weinstein. He tried to dispense favors: While seeking to stop the actress Rose McGowan from writing in a memoir that he had sexually assaulted her, he tried to arrange a $50,000 payment to her former manager and throw new business to a literary agent advising Ms. McGowan. The agent, Lacy Lynch, replied to him in an email: “No one understands smart, intellectual and commercial like HW.”

Mr. Weinstein’s final, failed round of manipulations shows how he operated for more than three decades: by trying to turn others into instruments or shields for his behavior, according to nearly 200 interviews, internal company records and previously undisclosed emails. Some aided his actions without realizing what he was doing. Many knew something or detected hints, though few understood the scale of his sexual misconduct. Almost everyone had incentives to look the other way or reasons to stay silent. Now, even as the tally of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds is still emerging, so is a debate about collective failure and the apportioning of blame. [Continue reading…]

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Trump may face a reckoning in case brought by female accuser

The Washington Post reports: In the weeks leading up to his election, Donald Trump went on a tear against a list of women who had accused him of touching them inappropriately. One was Summer Zervos, who had been a contestant on his reality television show.

“False stories. All made up. Lies. Lies. No witnesses. No nothing. All big lies,” Trump declared at a rally after the Californian made a statement alleging that Trump kissed and groped her in a 2007 encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“Total fabrication,” he told a cheering crowd in Gettysburg, Pa. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

As the nation wrestles with a historic shift in how to address old charges of sexual misbehavior, allegations against Trump, which date to his days as a New York developer, have become part of the public debate. Trump has repeatedly said the accusations against him are groundless. But by turning personal and branding the women liars, Trump has perhaps unwittingly played into a cutting-edge strategy in the legal pursuit of sexual misconduct — claims of defamation such as those used against comedian Bill Cosby and in a lesser-known New York case, argued by two lawyers who are now representing Zervos.

The defamation suit filed in January in New York State Supreme Court by Zervos, a short-lived contestant on “The Apprentice,” has reached a critical point, with oral arguments over Trump’s motion to dismiss scheduled for Tuesday, after which the judge is expected to rule on whether the case may move forward.

If it proceeds, Zervos’s attorneys could gather and make public incidents from Trump’s past and Trump could be called to testify, with the unwelcome specter of a former president looming over him: It was Bill Clinton’s misleading sworn testimony — not the repeated allegations of sexual harassment against him — that eventually led to his impeachment. [Continue reading…]

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Billy Bush: Trump’s revisionist history has reopened the wounds of the women he is said to have sexually assaulted

Billy Bush writes: He said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

We now know better.

Recently I sat down and read an article dating from October of 2016; it was published days after my departure from NBC, a time when I wasn’t processing anything productively. In it, the author reviewed the various firsthand accounts about Mr. Trump that, at that point, had come from 20 women.

Some of what Natasha Stoynoff, Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Jill Harth alleged involved forceful kissing. Ms. Harth said he pushed her up against a wall, with his hands all over her, trying to kiss her.

“He was relentless,” she said. “I didn’t know how to handle it.” Her story makes the whole “better use some Tic Tacs” and “just start kissing them” routine real. I believe her.

Kristin Anderson said that Mr. Trump reached under her skirt and “touched her vagina through her underwear” while they were at a New York nightclub in the 1990s. That makes the “grab ’em by the pussy” routine real. I believe her.

President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his. This has hit a raw nerve in me.

I can only imagine how it has reopened the wounds of the women who came forward with their stories about him, and did not receive enough attention. [Continue reading…]

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The men who cost Clinton the election

Jill Filipovic writes: Matt Lauer, like Charlie Rose and Mark Halperin before him, is a journalist out of a job after his employer fired him for sexually harassing female colleagues. It’s good news that real penalties are now leveled on men who harass — after centuries of the costs mostly befalling the women who endure harassment. But the deep cultural rot that has corroded nearly all of our institutions and every corner of our culture is not just about a few badly behaved men. Sexual harassment, and the sexism it’s predicated on, involves more than the harassers and the harassed; when the harassers are men with loud microphones, their private misogyny has wide-reaching public consequences. One of the most significant: the 2016 election.

Many of the male journalists who stand accused of sexual harassment were on the forefront of covering the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Matt Lauer interviewed Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump in an official “commander-in-chief forum” for NBC. He notoriously peppered and interrupted Mrs. Clinton with cold, aggressive, condescending questions hyper-focused on her emails, only to pitch softballs at Mr. Trump and treat him with gentle collegiality a half-hour later. Mark Halperin and Charlie Rose set much of the televised political discourse on the race, interviewing other pundits, opining themselves and obsessing over the electoral play-by-play. Mr. Rose, after the election, took a tone similar to Mr. Lauer’s with Mrs. Clinton — talking down to her, interrupting her, portraying her as untrustworthy. Mr. Halperin was a harsh critic of Mrs. Clinton, painting her as ruthless and corrupt, while going surprisingly easy on Mr. Trump. The reporter Glenn Thrush, currently on leave from The New York Times because of sexual harassment allegations, covered Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign when he was at Newsday and continued to write about her over the next eight years for Politico.

A pervasive theme of all of these men’s coverage of Mrs. Clinton was that she was dishonest and unlikable. These recent harassment allegations suggest that perhaps the problem wasn’t that Mrs. Clinton was untruthful or inherently hard to connect with, but that these particular men hold deep biases against women who seek power instead of sticking to acquiescent sex-object status.

A month ago, Rebecca Traister wrote in New York magazine that with the flood of sexual harassment charges, “we see that the men who have had the power to abuse women’s bodies and psyches throughout their careers are in many cases also the ones in charge of our political and cultural stories.” With the Lauer accusations, this observation has come into sharper focus on one particular picture: the media sexism that contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss.

The 2016 presidential race was so close that any of a half-dozen factors surely influenced the outcome: James Comey, racial politics, Clinton family baggage, the contentious Democratic primary, third-party spoilers, Russian interference, fake news. But when one of the best-qualified candidates for the presidency in American history and the first woman to get close to the Oval Office loses to an opponent who had not dedicated a nanosecond of his life to public service and ran a blatantly misogynist campaign, it’s hard to conclude that gender didn’t play a role. [Continue reading…]

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I’m not ready for the redemption of men

Amber Tamblyn writes: Recently, I was sitting on my couch between two influential, Emmy-winning writers, one a man and one a woman. We were talking about consequences. The comedian Louis C.K.’s entire life seemed to have been canceled overnight. His movie wasn’t being released, and his representatives dropped him after five women accused him of sexual harassment, behavior he then admitted. In just the past week, more famous and admired men have lost their jobs for such behaviors. Enter Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer right behind him and then Garrison Keillor.

The man on the couch next to me was disconcerted, making an argument that while Louis C.K.’s actions certainly merited serious consequences, what he did and what Harvey Weinstein did are two very different things. We shouldn’t lump them all together, he insisted. The woman was firm with her response: “Yes, we can and we will. Choosing consequences doesn’t belong to you anymore.”

The man balked with frustration. “What do you want,” he asked her. “What’s the ultimate thing you would want to happen to him, for what he did? That he never works in this business again?” The woman said, simply: “Yes. That’s the price you pay.” The man was quiet for a moment, thinking, until he found the question he’d been looking for the entire conversation. “Tell me something: Do you believe in redemption?”

It’s a valid question. But it’s also a question that makes me deeply suspicious of its timing. Why do we need to talk about the redemption of men when we are right in the middle of the salvation of women? Not even the middle, but the very beginning? Why are we obligated to care about salvaging male careers when we have just begun to tell the stories that have plagued us for lifetimes? It seems some men like a revolution only when it’s their kind of war. [Continue reading…]

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Republicans offer a sham defense of Roy Moore

William Saletan writes: The battle within the Republican Party has come down to this: Is it OK for a 32-year-old man to seduce a 14-year-old girl?

On one side are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They have disowned Roy Moore, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, over allegations that he targeted, and in some cases molested, minors and other teen girls. On the other side are social conservatives, including Alabama’s state auditor, who argue that courtship between an older man and a teenage girl is consensual, biblical, good for the girl, and grounded in the natural attraction of a godly man to the “purity of a young woman.” Alongside the purity camp is the tolerance camp, led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. These Republicans don’t deny the allegations or endorse Moore’s conduct, but they support him anyway, reasoning that other issues are more important.

Many Republicans are afraid to take sides in this debate. They want to stick with the GOP nominee, or at least avoid antagonizing voters who support him. But they don’t want to defend the sexual exploitation of minors. So they’ve staked out a neutral position: Moore is innocent until proven guilty. President Trump adopted this position on Tuesday, urging voters not to elect Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. A reporter asked Trump: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat?” The president replied: “Well, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”

This position sounds reasonable, but it’s a sham. Moore’s denials are designed to provide cover for Trump, Sean Hannity, Alabama’s Republican congressmen, and others who don’t want to acknowledge Moore’s sins. But factually, the denials have already collapsed. It’s time to sweep them out of the way.

Let’s start with the premise of the innocence argument: that voters should discount the allegations until they’re proven in court. That sounds fair, but it’s impossible. The alleged offenses took place decades ago, well outside Alabama’s statute of limitations. Moore can’t be charged or sued. His accusers will never get their day in court, unless he agrees to testify under oath, which could subject him to prosecution for perjury. Naturally, he has declined this challenge. So anyone who tells you to ignore the allegations until they’re validated in court is telling you, in effect, to ignore them forever. [Continue reading…]

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The unexamined brutality of male sexuality

Stephen Marche writes: After weeks of continuously unfolding abuse scandals, men have become, quite literally, unbelievable. What any given man might say about gender politics and how he treats women are separate and unrelated phenomena. Liberal or conservative, feminist or chauvinist, woke or benighted, young or old, found on Fox News or in The New Republic, a man’s stated opinions have next to no relationship to behavior.

Through sheer bulk, the string of revelations about men from Bill Cosby to Roger Ailes to Harvey Weinstein to Louis C.K. to Al Franken and, this week, to Charlie Rose and John Lasseter, have forced men to confront what they hate to think about most: the nature of men in general. This time the accusations aren’t against some freak geography teacher, some frat running amok in a Southern college town. They’re against men of all different varieties, in different industries, with different sensibilities, bound together, solely, by the grotesquerie of their sexuality.

Men arrive at this moment of reckoning woefully unprepared. Most are shocked by the reality of women’s lived experience. Almost all are uninterested or unwilling to grapple with the problem at the heart of all this: the often ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido.

For most of history, we’ve taken for granted the implicit brutality of male sexuality. In 1976, the radical feminist and pornography opponent Andrea Dworkin said that the only sex between a man and a woman that could be undertaken without violence was sex with a flaccid penis: “I think that men will have to give up their precious erections,” she wrote. In the third century A.D., it is widely believed, the great Catholic theologian Origen, working on roughly the same principle, castrated himself.

Fear of the male libido has been the subject of myth and of fairy tale from the beginning of literature: What else were the stories of Little Red Riding Hood or Bluebeard’s Castle about? A vampire is an ancient and powerful man with an insatiable hunger for young flesh. Werewolves are men who regularly lose control of their bestial nature. Get the point? There is a line, obviously, between desire and realization, and some cross it and some don’t. But a line is there for every man. And until we collectively confront this reality, the post-Weinstein public discussion — where men and women go from here — will begin from a place of silence and dishonesty. [Continue reading…]

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‘Somebody had to tell these stories’: An Iraqi woman’s ordeal as an ISIS sex slave

The Washington Post reports: Islamic State militants have lost the last of their strongholds, but for Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, a new battle is just beginning.

Three years after escaping militants in northern Iraq, Murad is unveiling a harrowing memoir, “The Last Girl,” about her ordeal as a sex slave.

Murad’s disturbing personal account is part of her effort, represented by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, to bring Islamic State members to justice for war crimes and genocide against the Yazidi people.

“This is not something I chose,” Murad, 24, said in an interview in the lounge of a posh London hotel. “Somebody had to tell these stories. It’s not easy.”

When the Islamic State swept into northern Iraq in 2014, thousands of Yazidis were killed and thousands more were kidnapped, including women and girls who were taken as sex slaves. U.N. officials have said the violence committed against the minority sect constituted a genocide, and the U.N. Security Council has created a task force to collect evidence of atrocities in Iraq. [Continue reading…]

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President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

The Washington Post reports: Many of the women have produced witnesses who say they heard about these incidents when they happened — long before Trump’s political aspirations were known. Three have produced at least two witnesses.

Such contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chance that a person is making up a story for political purposes. In the case of sexual allegations, such accounts can help bolster the credibility of the “she said” side of the equation. Often, a sexual assault will occur behind closed doors. The contemporary corroborators can explain what they heard at the time and whether the story being told now is consistent with how the story was told years earlier. This does not necessarily mean an allegation is true, but it does give journalistic organizations more confidence to report on the allegation.

The Fact Checker first detailed some of the accusations against Trump during the 2016 campaign. That fact check also detailed the witnesses who backed up claims of sexual accusations against former president Bill Clinton — who, like Trump, insisted the women accusing him were not telling the truth.

Here’s a list of 13 women who have publicly come forward with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. We did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn. [Continue reading…]

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Sebelius: The Clinton White House doubled down on ‘abusive behavior’ and it’s fair to criticize Hillary Clinton

CNN reports: As a wave of stories unfold about sexual harassment and assault by men in power, a senior Democratic leader says her party should reflect on how it handled such charges when they were leveled against former President Bill Clinton.

“Not only did people look the other way, but they went after the women who came forward and accused him,” says Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas governor. “And so it doubled down on not only bad behavior but abusive behavior. And then people attacked the victims.”

Sebelius extended her criticism to Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton White House for what she called a strategy of dismissing and besmirching the women who stepped forward—a pattern she said is being repeated today by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—saying that the criticism of the former first lady and Secretary of State was “absolutely” fair. Sebelius noted that the Clinton Administration’s response was being imitated, adding that “you can watch that same pattern repeat. It needs to end. It needs to be over.” [Continue reading…]

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Male rape and sexual torture in the Syrian war: ‘It is everywhere’

Sarah Chynoweth writes: Last year I agreed to undertake a fact-finding mission for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on sexual violence against men and boys in the Syrian crisis. We knew that many women and girls were being targeted for rape and other sexualised violence, but we didn’t know much about what was happening to men and boys. Drawing on a few existing reports, I assumed some boys were being victimised, as well as some men in detention centres, but that sexual violence against males was not common. I worried that few refugees would have heard of any accounts and that they wouldn’t talk to me about such a taboo topic anyway. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In October 2016, I landed in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where more than 200,000 Syrian refugees had fled. The UNHCR arranged for a translator and discussions with refugees at a nearby camp. I met with the first group, eight Syrian men who had fled the war. I asked them about their lives in the camp, how they were getting by, and what their main concerns were. Once we had established some rapport, I tentatively probed whether they had heard of any reports of sexual violence against men or boys in Syria. They looked at me incredulously, as if they couldn’t believe that I was asking such a basic question, saying: “Yes, of course. It is everywhere. It is happening [from] all sides.”

I was surprised at their response and their candour. I was also sceptical: rumours are rampant in war zones. Had they heard any accounts from someone they knew personally? Again, resounding replies of “yes” from the men. As I met with more and more refugees – almost 200 across Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan and Lebanon [Continue reading…]

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Naturally, Trump identifies more easily with an accused child molester than with the victims of sexual abuse

Politico reports: President Donald Trump’s near-endorsement of Alabama Republican Roy Moore followed days of behind-the-scenes talks in which he vented about Moore’s accusers and expressed skepticism about their accounts.

During animated conversations with senior Republicans and White House aides, the president said he doubted the stories presented by Moore’s accusers and questioned why they were emerging now, just weeks before the election, according to two White House advisers and two other people familiar with the talks.

The White House advisers said the president drew parallels between Moore’s predicament and the one he faced just over a year ago when, during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Trump confronted a long line of women who accused him of harassment. He adamantly denied the claims.

The president’s private sentiments broke into the open Tuesday when Trump all but declared he believed Moore’s denials.

“Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it,” Trump told reporters. Moore, 70, who has been accused of sexually pursuing — and in some cases assaulting — teenagers or young women when he was in his 30s. [Continue reading…]

James Downie writes: Donald Trump just can’t help himself. For almost two weeks, he kept largely silent about allegations that Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, molested underage women when he was in his 30s. But on Tuesday, the president came out against Moore’s Democratic opponent Doug Jones, arguing that “we don’t need a liberal person in [the Senate seat], a Democrat.” And besides, Trump told reporters, “He says it didn’t happen and you have to listen to him, also.”

It’s bad enough that the president is backing an accused child molester for the Senate. We’ll find out whether Alabama voters agree with him in a few weeks. In the meantime, Trump’s words are also a reminder that, in the national conversation about sexual harassers, the president’s own record needs to be at the center. And yes, that means investigations.

The evidence against Trump is damning. Seventeen different women have accused Trump of sexual harassment. He admitted on tape that he would grope women without their consent because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” He confessed to repeatedly entering pageant rooms when contestants were naked. He told two 14-year-olds (after they informed him of their age) that “in a couple years I’ll be dating you.” He said of a young girl on a Trump Tower escalator, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years.” [Continue reading…]

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Once again, Trump displays ‘a psychopath’s inability to accept that social norms apply to him’

The New York Times reports: Last fall, Donald J. Trump inadvertently touched off a national conversation about sexual harassment when a recording of him boasting about groping women was made public at the same time a succession of women came forward to assert that groping was something he did more than talk about.

A year later, after a wave of harassment claims against powerful men in entertainment, politics, the arts and the news media, the discussion has come full circle with President Trump criticizing the latest politician exposed for sexual misconduct even as he continues to deny any of the accusations against him.

In this case, Mr. Trump focused his Twitter-fueled mockery on a Democratic senator while largely avoiding a similar condemnation of a Republican Senate candidate facing far more allegations. The turn in the political dialogue threatened to transform a moment of cleansing debate about sexual harassment into another weapon in the war between the political parties, led by the president himself.

Indeed, Republicans on Friday were more than happy to talk about Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who apologized this week after a radio newscaster said he forcibly kissed her and posed for a photograph a decade ago appearing to fondle her breasts while she was sleeping. Democrats, for their part, sought to keep the focus on Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama who has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct by multiple women going back even further, including one who was 14 at the time.

But the notion that Mr. Trump himself would weigh in given his own history of crude talk about women and the multiple allegations against him surprised many in Washington who thought he could not surprise them anymore. A typical politician with Mr. Trump’s history would stay far away from discussing someone else’s behavior lest it dredge his own back into the spotlight. But as Mr. Trump has shown repeatedly during his 10-month presidency, he is rarely deterred by conventional political wisdom even as he leaves it to his staff to fend off the cries of hypocrisy.

“Like everything else Trump touches, he hijacks it with his chronic dishonesty and childishness,” said Mark Salter, a longtime adviser to Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “The intense, angry and largely ignorant tribalism afflicting our politics predates Trump’s arrival on the scene. But he has infused it with a psychopath’s inability to accept that social norms apply to him.” [Continue reading…]

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17 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. It’s time to revisit those stories

Elisabeth Ponsot and Sarah Slobin write: After a fifth woman accused Roy Moore of sexual misbehavior or assault, US senate majority leader and fellow Republican Mitch McConnell urged the Alabama senate nominee to withdraw, saying, “I believe the women.”

His visible and vocal stance regarding Moore sharply contrasts with how supporters of Donald Trump have responded to at least 17 women who have accused him of various degrees of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and assault. Their claims against the US president span three decades. During his campaign, Trump vociferously denied each accusation, adding in one instance that the woman in question “would not have been my first choice.”

Republican leaders spoke out against Trump in October 2016, when an Access Hollywood tape emerged in which Trump can be heard bragging that he could “grab [women] by the pussy.” But they did not defend the women who came forward with assault allegations against Trump, nor did they suggest their claims were credible.

As the calendar ticked forward to the presidential vote, GOP figures who had briefly distanced themselves from Trump got behind him again. His accusers’ stories faded to the background. The media moved on to other things. Trump was elected.

Now that he has sided with Moore’s accusers, McConnell was asked on Nov. 15 if he believes the women who similarly accused Trump. He would not answer. “Look, we’re talking about the situation in Alabama,” he told reporters. “And I’d be happy to address that if there are any further questions.” [Continue reading…]

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As we rethink old harassers, let’s talk about Clarence Thomas

Joy-Ann Reid writes: Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

“The discussion” in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing “Christianity” that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Party’s radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile “groping” picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the “I just kiss beautiful women and grab ’em by the pussy” un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, we’d be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later. [Continue reading…]

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Low-wage workers have been fighting sexual harassment for years

HuffPost reports: Cecilia was working as a minibar attendant at a Chicago hotel when she knocked on the guest’s door and announced herself. The man’s response was quick and unequivocal: “You can come in.”

When she opened the door, “He was at the computer, masturbating,” Cecilia recalled. She was overcome with shock and embarrassment. Judging from the satisfied look on the man’s face, that was the whole idea.

“I felt nasty,” recalled Cecilia, who asked that her last name and the hotel not be identified. “You’d expect that to happen to people in a jail but not in regular work. I felt like crying.”

It wasn’t the only time Cecilia had dealt with extreme forms of sexual harassment in her three decades working in downtown hotels. A male guest once answered her knock by opening the door naked. Just a month and a half ago, a younger colleague confided to Cecilia that a male guest had tried to embrace her while she was in his room. Cecilia escorted the shaken housekeeper to the hotel’s security team to report the incident.

Since the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein were first revealed last month, more and more women have stepped forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault at work. Their bravery in speaking out has toppled powerful men’s careers in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington. But much less attention has been paid to the rampant harassment in blue-collar workplaces, particularly the hotel industry. [Continue reading…]

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