Pussy Priorities

How news outlets fumbled the early moments of Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” scandal and how they continue to push a false equivalency with emails & hacking.

When the story broke yesterday, the content warnings mentioned a crude discussion of adultery. Instead of knowing that Donald Trump was going to be talking about grabbing the crotch of a woman or kissing women he’s just met without their permission, we we warned that a married and as-yet-unnamed person, Nancy O’Dell, was pursued by Donald Trump, who had also gotten remarried eight months earlier. We weren’t warned that Billy Bush was going to be giggling like an amused toddler over descriptions of harassing and assaulting behavior. No, the big story was a married man pursuing a married woman and used foul language to do so. The media continued to bury the lede until activists, pundits, and sexual assault victims started describing it as what it was: sexual assault.

This is probably where I should make some pithy comment about how this is an example of rape culture. (It is.) But I can’t bring myself to be so pithy over what happened.

I’m horrified that some people missed the importance of what was being said.

Ana Navarro didn’t miss its importance as other pundits criticized her use of the word “pussy” when she was challenging their support for Trump. If you thought the word “pussy” was the offensive part of the quote, I’m assuming you didn’t pay attention to the first part of the statement. When he said you have to grab women by the pussy, while talking about his pickup artist antics, he wasn’t talking about grabbing their attention. He was talking about forcing himself on them.

“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.
“Whoa,” another voice said.
“I did try and f — - her. She was married,” Trump says.
Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.
“Your girl’s hot as s — -, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.
“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

This isn’t a conversation about adultery. It isn’t boys being boys. It isn’t boys simply being vulgar. It’s objectification and discussing sexually abusive behavior — and priding one another on that behavior. If we frame it as a story about anything else, we are missing the point and reinforcing beliefs some have that this behavior is acceptable.

What’s also infuriating is that some outlets, including NBC, have pushed the story as being equal to that of Hillary Clinton’s emails and supposed content gained from the hacks of email accounts of prominent Democrats. These are nowhere near the same league. Hillary’s email server was a bit of a personal & professional fuck-up; something she admitted long ago. The supposed emails from hacked accounts are products of a crime committed by a third-party. The sexual assault jokes are a description of criminal behavior by Donald Trump that he has been accused of multiple times in court documents, and that he continues to view as no big deal. They are not the same. We aren’t doing anyone a favor by pretending that they are. In fact, we are probably making things worse by doing so.

The media needs to stop trying to push the idea that anything in the emails is the equivalent to what this man has done, unless there was actually something in the emails that involved the same sort of crime. Even then, if Hillary wasn’t the one committing said crime, then it still would not be a reflection on her personal character like this is on his. Pushing them as the same does a disservice to rape victims and is a disgusting twist on facts. The press must face the facts and admit that this is one case where you can’t give “equal time” to two scandals. The person who has committed the more egregious act, Donald Trump, deserves to have his dirty laundry in this sordid tale aired.

Donald’s choice to follow-up his claims of sexual assault with threats to attack Hillary with her husband’s past infidelities show just how much of a disgusting, victim-blaming, woman-hating person he is. And that’s what the press should be focused on. Don’t play into his “but Hillary is bad too” shtick. That teaches him that nothing will be done to stop him from harming women, even if he’s caught on tape bragging about harming them. That strengthens his resolve and teaches victims that their suffering doesn’t matter, that their desires are unimportant. It reinforces the rape culture that we so desperately need to rid ourselves of.

Force him to deal with his words and his deeds in public without allowing him to hide behind anyone or anything else. Hold him accountable. That’s the just thing to do.


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