We got it all wrong! The voice on the bus’s hot mike was not that of Donald Trump: it was Silvio Berlusconi’s:
Better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, 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 ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
Berlusconi was the billionaire Prime Minister of Italy. Corrupt to the core but also slippery as an eel lubricated with Vaseline, avoiding prosecution countless times. He was involved with the underage daughter of a good friend, but it was his dealings with an underage prostitute that came close to being his final undoing.
Berlusconi has said:
I have never paid a woman… I have never understood what satisfaction there is if the pleasure of conquest is absent.
Berlusconi admits no wrong.
But wait just a minute, maybe it was Roger Ailes whose voice was over-heard on the bus. Ailes was the CEO of FOXNews until the number of his sexual assault victims piled higher than his ego. His behaviour came into the lime light when anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson went public about her victimization. Fox settled with her, and subsequently it surfaced that the network had also settled many other instances of aberrant behaviour. In one case, Laurie Luhn had been blackmailed by Ailes into sexual servitude for some twenty years. It appears that Fox’s legal folks had regarded settling a string of sexual harassment claims against Ailes as merely the cost of doing business. Roger Ailes admits no wrong.
But, now I am thinking that the voice on the bus was neither Trump’s, nor Berlusconi’s, nor Ailes’, but is in fact was the voice of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He was the leader of the French Socialist Party, and only steps away from becoming President. But while on a visit to New York, he presumed that he could either force, buy, or charm his way into a sexual encounter with his hotel maid. The charges were dropped due to shaky testimony. Subsequently a French journalist, Tristane Banon, accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, but charges were never laid. He was subsequently charged with “aggravated pimping.” He escaped those charges as well. Strauss-Kahn admits no wrong.
Maybe those were the words of noted “horndog” former President Bill Clinton. Of all the various cases involving his sexual improprieties, perhaps the most troubling is that of Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused Clinton of rape. But let us not forget the other victims either:
- Paula Jones;
- Jennifer Flowers;
- Monica Lewinsky; and
- Kathleen Willey.
Bill Clinton has apologised for some of his his wrongs.
We ought not to forget the sexual misconducts of the Kennedy clan. The standards for journalism were different in the time of President John F. Kennedy (wink-wink), so his behaviour has probably not been completely documented.
[Mimi] Alford believes that Kennedy showed “his darker side … when we were among men he knew. That’s when he felt a need to display his power over me.” Kennedy didn’t just have a thing for Social Register girls; he had a thing for humiliating Social Register girls.
But the Chappaquiddick incident involving his brother Ted Kennedy, wherein 28 year-old assistant Mary Jo Kopechne drowned as a result of a car accident on the way to being bedded, attests to his proclivities. Then there is that Kennedy (nephew to Ted), William Kennedy Smith, implicated in a rape on a beach (acquitted). And then the Kennedy nephew (of Ethel, wife of RFK), Michael Skakel, charged in 2000 for the 1975 sexual murder of a 15-year-old girl (Skakel now free on bail pending a retrial).
My point is not to diminish Trump’s criminality – on the tape he boasted of sexual assault. Rather, I wonder how much wider these crimes go: when it comes to powerful men, is Trump’s behaviour merely the tip of an unsavoury iceberg? And what drives these men in their extreme abuse of power? A sense of entitlement? Insecurity? Misogyny?
And we could ask how far down the power ladder a perceived sense of entitlement might go. And, towards the bottom, what is the locker room talk? What kind of self-reinforcing chatter is there? As only one for instance, the entire University of Ottawa hockey team was disbanded for fifteen months because of a rape and what the Toronto Star referred to as “the problem of sexual violence in collegiate athletics and the broader issue of campus rape culture.”
Kelly Oxford tweeted on the Friday night that the hot-mike bus story broke:
Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.
By Monday afternoon, almost 27 million people have either visited her site or responded to her tweet (See here).
So let us be mindful of the possible breath and depth of the problem, which is that while men may have yielded the boardroom to women, they still want control in the bedroom. The locker room is their state of mind.
And let us be reminded of the idea originally made by Susan Brownmiller in her ground-breaking book Against our Will … : Rape is not about sex; it is about violence and about power.
Perhaps a secondary line of thought could be pursued and it relates to a story published in the New York Times on the same day as the Trump hot-mike tape: Op-ed columnist Nicholos Kristof tells how in the 1990s a business woman, Jill Harth, and her male associate sought a partnership with Donald Trump: they were repeated instances of sexual assault by Trump and yet the business relationship moved forward for several years.
Harth and her longtime boyfriend were in meetings with Trump to forge a business partnership. “He was relentless,” Harth recalled in an interview, describing how on Dec. 12, 1992, he took the couple to dinner and a club — and then situated himself beside Harth and ran his hands up her skirt, to her crotch.
Jill Harth eventually married her boyfriend and business associate, and after that relationship failed, she dated Donald Trump, her tormentor, for several months. Huh?
When you read concluding part of this story, it is painfully similar to the testimonies of the three victims of CBC host Jian Ghomeshi, whose tortured on-going relationships lead to the charges against him to fall apart. We are reminded again in Kristof’s NY Times story to never excuse the conduct of the aggressor because of inexplicable behaviour by the victim.
The title to this post is a riff of Prime Minister Trudeau’s rejoinder when asked why his cabinet was 50% female: “Because it’s 2015.”
During research for this post several tidbits emerged:
One Million Years BC was a fantasy/adventure film first shot in 1940 and then remade in 1966. It features cavemen and -women living contemporaneously with dinosaurs, a scientific inaccuracy that would certainly please “young-earth” creationist Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. The film might be best remembered for the starring role of Raquel Welch and the poster it generated.
In looking for an appropriate caveman illustration I discovered that the idea of the conquering caveman dragging the woman by the hair is probably misaligned. It is more likely that cavewomen were biologically programmed to be promiscuous and that no conquering would have been necessary.
Also, on the caveman topic, it is a racial (spec-ial?) slur of sorts to refer to slow or stupid people as Neanderthals. Their brain cavity was about 15% larger than modern humans. And they were hardly ape-like.
Tic Tac respects all women. We find the recent statements and behaviour completely inappropriate and unacceptable.
In Italy, prostitution is not illegal. In Italy it is legal to have sex with what North Americans would regard as a minor (as young as 14). However, it is illegal to have sex with a prostitute under the age of 18.
The case of Kennedy nephew Michael Skakel was dormant for almost 25 years. The murder investigation was rekindled in part because of the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith, but also due to a book published by Mark Fuhrman. He is to be remembered as the racist cop whose corrupted testimony contributed to the innocent verdict in the original O.J. Simpson trial. Fuhrman, like Trump, is a frequent guest of Sean Hannity at FOXNews.There: we have come full circle.
Illustration: licensed from iStock Copyright: Anton Brand