Donald Trump Mansplains Sexual Harassment

donald trump

by Lucy Vine |
Published on

If you chose to leave the house this morning, you were basically asking for it, says columnist Lucy Vine...

Are you a Strong Woman? How Strong Woman are you? Are you sure you’re Strong Woman-y enough though? Because, as we all know, only the Strong Womans of the world are Strong enough to survive sexual harassment.

I’ve lost you.

This week the Trump men came out in force to mansplain the issue of sexual harassment of women in the workplace (we are so lucky to have you, Trumps). Potential President of the United States of America – important we keep saying that out loud so we don’t forget this is not a joke – Donald Trump opened up the debate on Monday, saying that if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed, it would be on her to abandon the position she’s worked for her entire adult life. ‘I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,’ he said, missing the point just beautifully. So far, so eyeroll. The following day he piped up again, once more pushing the responsibility of harassment not onto – oh I don’t know – the actual person doing the harrassing, or indeed the employer, but again onto the victim. He said, ‘There may be a better alternative; then there may not. If there’s not a better alternative, then you stay. But it could be there’s a better alternative where you’re taken care of better.’ Only the victim is examined in this. On no level does it occur to Trump to look to anyone else.

Then his delightful son, Eric joined in. And he didn’t just victim blame, but also pulled out the Strong Woman card (see: my confusing opener), suggesting that men are not to blame, but the women who ‘allow’ themselves to be harassed. Speaking about his sister on CBS This Morning, he said, ‘Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.’

SHE WOULDN’T ALLOW HERSELF TO BE SUBJECTED TO IT. Because the 1 in 3 women who are sexually harassed at work are allowing themselves to be harassed. We are not Strong Woman enough to repel it. You chose to wear that outfit, didn’t you? You chose to have breasts, didn’t you? You chose to be a woman. You chose to leave the house today. What did you expect?

What’s funny, too, is that I’m pretty sure Donald Trump very much dislikes Strong Women. He has been very very very very vocal about his aversion to them. Hillary Clinton, for example, who this week alone he’s called ‘the devil’ and (this is my favourite) ‘the founder of ISIS.’ Classic Trump bantz. See here for more of the lovely, demeaning, belittling things he’s said about women who step out of line. By which I mean speak out loud or wear trousers.

The message to women is, yet again, that it is our fault. It doesn’t even occur to men like the Trumps that workplace policies need to be reviewed, or that employers need to be held accountable. Or that those who do want to proceed with complaints are put off by a prohibitively expensive (up to £1200!) and convoluted tribunal process. A recent survey from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau found that four out of five people are put off making a claim because of it, but really, those people should’ve just listened to Trump and popped off to start a new career, yeah?

It is never as simple as ‘just leave your job’, or ‘be a Strong Woman’. Surely it’s obvious that most people aren’t able to walk away from what might be their dream job, or the only way they have of feeding their children. Most of us are afraid of complaining – afraid of consequences like losing our job, or of demotions or sidelining. Or even just the inevitable nasty office gossip. That doesn’t make us weak, and it isn’t the signing of a permission slip to harassers.

It’s tricky, isn’t it? In Donald Trump’s chorus of offensive, racist, bigoted drivel, sometimes seemingly lesser things like this get lost. It’s tempting to sigh and shrug it off because he says hideous things all the time. He has normalised hate speak. And with something like sexual harassment, much like his hate speech, it’s become so commonplace, we barely notice it anymore. But that’s exactly why it’s so important that we do keep noticing and speaking out.

I guess in one way Trump is correct; it is up to the individual. But not one individual – all of the individuals. We all need to challenge sexual harassment – in the workplace and everywhere else. And no individual needs to take more responsibility than the GODDAMN PERSON WHO IS DOING THE HARASSING. Hopefully Donald and Eric Trump are Strong Man enough to hear that.

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