Trump, Biden and Sexual Harassment
Let me say this right at the top, men can be pigs. In our #MeToo environment, more people have opened their eyes to the horror of sexual misbehavior that has existed for many years. Some men have attempted to avoid public shame by denying their actions, but the partisan politics will drive whether you believe the man, these days. Yes, things worked that way in the business world from the day women were invited into the club, but it continues today in every aspect of life. It’s the sadistic power of one person used over another as an assumptive permission to take a physical or sexual action.
In the 1981 award winning TV show Hill Street Blues, we saw the characters played by Daniel J. Travanti and Veronica Hamel having an ongoing sexual relationship. The character Joyce Davenport was a public defender and her boyfriend, precinct Captain Frances Furillo, called her “Counselor,” but they kept the relationship secret until the third season. We all know that many relationships are kindled at work, but in this TV cop show the two people appear to be on equal footing. This is an important ingredient in judging harassment.
Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump gained much of their power in the 1960s. It was a time when medical technology, in the form of birth control pills, pushed men and women together. The so-called “free love” era was running on all cylinders, until the early 1980s when the Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) hit the world. This virus, jumping from chimpanzee to humans, has been around for a hundred years and we still don’t have a vaccine for it. Google it. Now, back to Joe Biden.
While Joe was gaining power in Congress and Donald was dominating the crappy gossip columns of New York newspapers, many American men and women became more sexually aggressive. I found it curious when, during a recent interview, President Trump defended Joe Biden who is being accused of sexual harassment or assault. I guess it stands to reason that Trump, who has been charged of the same crime by thirty women, would defend another man who is being “wrongfully” accused.
We know that power hungry, self-serving men in politics will swat away any accusation that makes them look bad. When a child is confronted with, “Who opened the cookie jar?” he or she will typically blame a sibling to avoid the pain of punishment. Should this work, they will carry forward the habit of lying when confronted. Most men and women will indeed lie when it comes to their personal sexual histories, even to their wives and husbands.
I am sure there have been times when Joe Biden and Donald Trump misread signs of women they encountered. We have all experienced uncomfortable positions. When I worked in a theater box office, a male theatrical director approached me with inappropriate sexual overtones. I was brave enough to tell him to back off, but I wonder how many naïve people trying to make it in their industry will not properly read the signs, or worse, kowtow to the desires of the harasser. I know this happened, but I am not about to out the man by publishing his name. He probably doesn’t remember it.
When men with less than youthful faculties are asked about something that happened decades ago, they often say they don’t remember. One could understand but not necessarily believe such an answer. When guesting on the Howard Stern radio show, Donald Trump admitted to womanizing and his use of power to exploit women. When talking to Billy Bush about women in a conversation recorded by Access Hollywood, Trump spoke of his male dominance, saying, “When you are famous, they let you do it…” I don’t expect Donald Trump to comprehend that “fame” is “power” and many women are attracted to it, but that doesn’t mean that every instance of assault or harassment can be excused as “the woman wanting it.”
When asked by a reporter why she had sex with Trump, Stormy Daniels openly confessed that she aspired to be on his reality TV show The Apprentice. So, there was a porn star using her looks and sexuality to get what she wanted. Interestingly, Trump was having an ongoing affair with a Playboy bunny, Karen McDougal, at the same time. She said his fame was part of the attraction. During her interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, McDougal said, “After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me, and I actually didn’t know how to take that.” Would that have made the Playboy bunny an employee and would she have been allowed to apply for bailout money?
Trump has denied that either affair happened, even though he paid a quarter of a million dollars to keep what “didn’t happen” from public knowledge during an election year.
Joe Biden is more than a gaff-meister. Aside from his stuttering challenge and propensity to mutter unfortunate things near open microphones, Biden’s dismissive evaluation of what happened when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991 shows that he lives in a retro 1950s view of how things work. Yes, some people liked it when, during a tense argument over guns, Biden recently told a factory worker, “You’re full of shit,” but he is running for President and the leader of the free world is supposed to listen to its citizens. Sure, Joe Biden owns a gun, but that doesn’t give him a license to be like Trump.
The circumstances surrounding the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination show that Biden failed to use the power of the chair to conduct a judicious and thorough inquiry into Hill’s allegations. He has since apologized to Dr. Hill, but that cannot reverse what happened. The United States got a terrible Justice and the process set the stage for Bret Kavanagh, another bad judge on the high court.
Is there a paper trail? If there is a written sexual harassment claim filed by Tara Reade, the former Senate employee who claims Biden sexually assaulted her, I am sure, like many other complaints on Capitol Hill, it has been destroyed. That is the way the men in power who represent us operate. But over the weekend, Ms. Reade was probed by reporters and she says now, that the words “sexual assault” nor “sexual harassment” were not part of the complaint she filed. This is another “she said, he said” situation that we have seen played out in Congressional hearings.
Tara Reade, Dr. Anita Hill and Professor Christine Blasey Ford claim they remember incidents much more clearly than the men they’ve accused. Who holds men accountable when they say, “It never happened?” Who are these women who would change the course of their lives and indict a public figure of such terrible behavior? I’m sure they didn’t want the publicity, the on-going harassment and certainly not the death threats. Who would? So, will this incident hurt Joe Biden’s chance of becoming president? It takes a special person to admit they are wrong.
One of the innovations that show creator Steven Bochco brought to Hill Street Blues was shooting longer scenes with only one camera. It gave the viewer a feeling of reality because real life unfolds without pause. Politics is not seamless, but we often jump from one historical moment to the next seeing repetition of the same dirt. One of the things l liked about Hill Street Blues was that each show had a story, but the character arcs carried through future episodes. What James Madison did to avoid the War of 1812, could teach a current president lessons of leadership, but the president we have now will never follow the advice of history.
In the end, it won’t matter that twenty women have accused Trump of touching them, or one-woman accused Joe Biden of something he doesn’t remember. If people cared about women’s rights and their testimony against men, Harvey Weinstein would have been stopped years ago. If women had been listened to more, it wouldn’t have taken them 144 years to gain the right to vote. If more women were in power, the Equal Rights Amendment would have been passed years ago. Women, scream louder! Men still believe they are fully and solely in control and you must hold them accountable for their actions.
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