Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 18, 2016
A lifetime of misogyny catches up with Trump
Back in the spring, Jill Harth didn’t want to talk. Neither did a number of the other women who had crossed paths with Donald Trump. But few of them had documented their encounters so thoroughly as Harth, whose 1997 lawsuit alleging “attempted rape” against Trump is a matter of public record.
It wasn’t surprising that having kept quiet on the matter for almost 20 years, she wasn’t jumping at the chance to respond to a reporter’s phone call.
But a few months later, her lawyer got in touch. The impetus, as Harth put it in an emotional hour-long interview at the Guardian’s New York office, was Trump’s repeated insistence that any woman alleging misbehaviour on his part was lying. His eldest daughter Ivanka’s widely aired insistence that “my dad is not a groper” pushed her over the edge. “What did she know?” Harth asked. “She was 10 years old.”
A former Trump business associate from his early beauty pageant industry days, Harth said that the tycoon behaved inappropriately with her from the day she met him. The first presentation she gave with her boyfriend and business partner George Houraney back in December 1992 marked not just the beginning of their partnership with Trump, which Harth described as the professional “highlight” of their career, but also, the beginning of a steady stream of unwanted sexual advances, culminating in the alleged assault in one of the children’s bedrooms at Mar-a-Lago, his ostentatious Florida mansion.
Woman who sued Trump over alleged sexual assault speaks out pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again,” Harth recalled, “and I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’ It was a shocking thing to have him do this because he knew I was with George.” If she had known Trump a bit better at the time, she might not have been so shocked.
Today, the examples of Trump’s misogyny, casual and calculated alike, are as well-rehearsed as they are reprehensible. But something has changed again. Last week, the tape of his conversation with Billy Bush brought them front and centre in the American conversation; this week, further testimony from two women who spoke to the New York Times, alleging that his claims back then were more than mere words, have ensured that the spotlight will not shift. His unguarded phrase, “grab them by the pussy”, has stuck because it chimed with the testimony of Jill Harth, and so many other women who have spoken out about their experience with Trump. As a former Miss Utah, Temple Taggart, put it to the New York Times when remembering how he had introduced himself by kissing her on the lips: “It was like, ‘Thank you.’ Now no one can say I made this up,” she said. In this context, the stories of the women who spoke up about Trump have taken on fresh weight: now undeniable as a map to his values and treatment of women for more than 40 years. (Continued: The Guardian)