Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes
After a shitstorm of Melaniac proportions like that of this week’s RNC speech fumble (ya know, wherein Melania Trump recited a speech that directly lifted lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech?) it’s tempting to throw her all of our collective, liberal criticism (i.e. 'classic white woman taking from a black woman’s mouth and giving her no credit') and the collective misogynistic criticism (i.e. 'classic bimbo model mucking up her husband’s campaign and not recognizing the mistakes that she is making') etc. etc. yawn, yawn, yawn. Obviously, one of those is valid and the other isn't. But in our current cultural moment, we need to step back and refocus our attention; it isn’t that she doesn’t deserve our hearty criticism, because she must. However, in case you hadn’t noticed, there are bigger fish to fry; particularly the fish--burnt to a crisp inedibility--standing off in the wings, unaffectionately known as her husband.
We’re doomed if we let these hiccups--albeit offensive hiccups--distract us from or receive more attention than the actual issue at hand: that issue being how an orange-haired, bigoted, violently inclined, alleged serial rapist and abuser is leading one of our two major political parties in the race for the presidency. Wait, what was that last thing? Yeah. He’s been accused by at least three separate women of sexual abuse in a variety of highly disturbing forms. And in a country where college students are more easily expelled for cheating and plagiarizing than they are for committing sexual assault, this behavior is not funny anymore. As makers and consumers of the media, we must refuse to be the university that expels Melania for plagiarism and lets abusive Donald stay so he can finish his degree. If we’re going to be up in arms about Melania’s speech fumble, then we sure as hell better be up in equally if-not-more-aggressive arms about Donald Trump’s history of psychological abuse and alleged sexual abuse.
This damning HuffPost article highlights just how deep Donald Trump’s sexual history is buried, as he’s bought and sold his innocence and his alleged victims’ voices as though they’re building contracts over the years. Journalists have been ignoring these stories for decades now, allowing for Donald to build an empire and buy as much influence as it takes to abuse without consequences. It would be bad enough if this man never decided to run for president; if he stuck to his TV gigs and celebrity lifestyle. But now that he has assumed a position as a “politician” and potential “leader,” this man has half of America in the palm of his destructive hand, eager to overlook his blatant misogyny and abusive temperament. I for one am pissed that we saw more news coverage of Melania’s speech disastré than we’ve seen of Donald Trump’s criminally misogynistic past in his entire career as a public figure. If journalists and lawyers and activists alike banded together to solve these cases of alleged sexual abuse and potentially put Donald Trump away for his crimes, the American people would be learning an essential lesson about power, money, extreme sexism, and abuse. Even if we aren’t able to lock him up and get him out of our figurative faces, the mere gesture and spectacle of delving into his past with the intent of seeking justice for the alleged survivors of his attacks would still send a message to the people of this country who aren’t used to seeing such effort to believe women when they say they’ve been hurt.
So maybe this is a call--a plea!--to journalists everywhere to cover the stories that really matter in this election as much as you’re covering side stories about things like Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and Melania Trump’s plagiaristic speech. You know that old saying, Donald: if ya can’t take the heat, don’t treat women like meat.