Whoa! What’s Going On Here?

Remember the notorious Access Hollywood video that surfaced in 2016, in which the former President and current Republican party cult leader joked about grabbing women inappropriately? Many of us naively thought that would automatically disqualify him. Alas!

We’ve learned of any number of alleged sexual improprieties by the former guy. As of 2020, 26 women had come forward with accusations against him.

Remember when the Democratic Senate leadership forced Senator Al Franken of Minnesota to resign in 2018 because several women accused him of groping or kissing them? I always thought that whether or not he should continue in office was a decision best left to Minnesota’s voters. We’ll never know how the state’s voters would have reacted if they’d known about these charges and his responses when Franken ran for office and was reelected.

But we will know–and we’re finding out–how the voters feel about a crop of Republican men who are running in 2022 despite charges that make Franken’s purported behavior seem kinda tame.

And I see them as quite significant in the climate of the Supreme Court’s apparent willingness to force women to carry their pregnancies to term—even in cases of rape or incest.

A chilling video appeared that shows a man in New York Fire Department garb and MAGA hat yelling at pro-choice protesters: “The court has decided. You lose. You have no choice. Not your choice. not your body. Your body is mine and you’re having my baby.”

The NYFD said he’s not an employee, and they’re investigating. But it’s the message, not the messenger: Women have no choice with regard to their own bodies.

I don’t think it’s stretching things to see a line between this guy and some of the characters running for prominent offices as Republicans—with Trump’s endorsement, of course:

—Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, who attended the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, has been accused of groping eight women. One of them is a very conservative Republican state senator. He’s been claiming to be the victim, saying it’s the Republican “establishment” (who knew there was still such a thing?) lying about him.

Now here’s something interesting and important: Herbster had been leading in the polls, but every single woman in Nebraska’s legislature—regardless of party—signed on to a letter opposing him because of those charges. Yesterday he lost.

—Missouri US Senate candidate Eric Greitens is the state’s former governor, who resigned in 2018. Why? A woman said he’d slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex on him, and had taken a nude photo of her without her permission that he said he’d publicize if she spoke about their affair. He denies the charges, but a state legislators committee found them “credible.” Now he’s back in politics, and he may well become a US Senator.

—Ohio’s 16th Congressional District candidate Max Miller won not only Trump’s endorsement, but also Don Jr’s fiancee as his campaign’s national chair. Trump’s former press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, stated that when she was dating Miller, he pushed her against a wall and slapped her. Though Miller denies he did so, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges concerning a 2007 assault (and “guilty” to a 2010 disorderly conduct charge.) Miller won the Republican primary yesterday.

—Georgia’s US Senate candidate Herschel Walker, a former football player endorsed by Trump, has been accused by both his ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend of threatening to kill them. His ex-wife received a protective order against him; she said he’d pointed a gun at her. He denies what the ex-girlfriend said, claims he doesn’t remember threatening his former wife. (He is said to suffer from brain injury.)

And here’s the nadir of awfulness:

—In Indiana, Andrew Wilhoite, in jail after confessing he killed his wife, who had breast cancer, and dumping her body in a creek, won a Republican primary for a seat on his township board. From his jail cell.

One bit of sanity arose with the candidate Trump had originally endorsed for Pennsylvania’s Senate race. Sean Parnell withdrew after his ex-wife testified in a custody trial that he had attempted to strangle her and hit their children. According to Slate, he said in 2019 that feminism had created “women tyrants” and “men don’t want to put up with the BS of high-maintenance narcissistic women.”

(Trump moved his Pennsylvania endorsement to Mehmet Oz, celebrity doc, who willingly spouts the Big Lie.)

What do we make of this development? I am not suggesting that all men who vote for Republicans would condone or demonstrate such behavior—or that Democratic-voting men are free of misogyny.

But what kind of pretzel-thinking makes it possible for women to vote for such neanderthals? Refusal to accept what they’re hearing? Yes, that’s been documented. Stockholm syndrome? Could be. Identification with the throwback views of the roles of men and women?

The so-called NYFD dude in that video haunts me, as his sense of entitlement seems very similar to the language in the infamous Alito Supreme Court draft: If women didn’t have any rights when the founders drew up the Constitution, there’s no reason that they should have them now.

What’s more, the fact that Alito repeatedly cited 17th Century English jurist Sir Matthew Hale, who authored a treatise in support of marital rape—and had a couple of women burned at the stake—should tell us all we need to know about his thinking.

Not so far removed from that view is Amy Coney Barrett’s blasé comment that women who become pregnant against their will have nothing to worry about because after nine months, they can just drop off the baby somewhere without being punished.

These positions are the dehumanization of women–and I find them on a continuum with domestic violence.

Have Donald Trump and the court he made possible revealed, encouraged, or simply validated a toxic masculinity that’s playing out in men seeking elective office under the Republican banner?

The women in the red state of Nebraska give me hope. If we’re lucky—and by “we” I mean men, women, children, and our country—the gender gap will grow in our forthcoming elections, and Americans will reject this ugliness being foisted upon us based on amorphous minority views of religion, history, the Constitution, and men’s rights of dominance over the “weaker sex.”

Annie

40 thoughts on “Whoa! What’s Going On Here?

  1. Bravo Annie!!! This post is so important and well written. Sadly, men will always think they can dominate women and so, once again, its our job to set the record straight. I urge female lawmakers to DO THE RIGHT THING and support the right of women to control not only their bodies but their destinies.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I find it distressing that Al Franken was forced out of the Senate, while Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, Matt Gaetz, Clarence Thomas et al. continue to reign despite far worse conduct toward women. Most Republicans show no shame, while at the same time doing what they can to keep women barefoot and pregnant. It’s infuriating. And scary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think this is a significant time in two ways, Susie. We have not, in our lifetime, seen the Supreme Court remove a Constitutionally guaranteed right—using language that can so readily be applied to other rights as well.

      On the other hand, despite all the attempts at voter suppression, the difference that women have made when they are similarly aligned politically has been substantial. It may be even more so now.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. My jaw dropped to the ground reading this, Annie! Some, of course, I was aware of but much of it was news to me! Any woman who could vote for any of these abusers has no right calling herself a woman! We are truly stepping back into the dark ages!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi, Jill. Thanks for reblogging. Though the intention may be to send us back to a much darker time, an awakened cadre of women and their supporters can prevent that from happening. But we must find ways to help poor women, who are already/always bearing the brunt of these cruelties.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with all you say, but that awakened cadre of women is going to have to vote to ensure a majority in both chambers of Congress so that we can get something of import done, such as ending the filibuster, protecting voting rights for all, and if necessary, expanding the Court. Unless those things happen, we can protest in the streets forever and it won’t amount to a hill of beans. Voting … it’s our only real voice.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Rise up like women did in the 70s. Go on strike. Stop catering to men. Make them cook their own good, wash their own clothes, clean their own houses, care for their own kids, and change the shit-filled diapers. And then tell them to go to hell if they want sex. Don’t wait for the chance to vote. Act now, while you still have a chance to win! Once SCOTUS repeals Roe v Wade, the fight will be three times as hard to regain choice, if that is rven possible anymore.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I appreciate your comment, rawgod. Shades of Lysistrata (411 BC!), Aristophanes’ comedy in which the bearer of peace tells the women to withhold sex from their men in the hope of ending the Peloponnesian War. In this case, it would be the war against women.

        There’s not much time or chance to prevent the SC ruling. I just hope it’ll be announced in late June—and not timed to deflect attention from the January 6 Committee’s public hearings beginning June 9th. But the fight will go on, for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sex is just one part of my suggestion, and this morning I expanded it to a total General Strike. Women and men! Shut fown the wheels of production and government for a few days. Stay home, or take to the streets in PEACEFUL PROTEST! Either we win our rights back, or the wealthy show their real hand by beating our brains out and shooting us with comtemptuous bullets. The longer we play by THEIR RULES the more we are going to lose OUR RIGHTS!

        Like

      3. That is not something I would advocate, rawgod. I am eager to see the winning 2018 coalition that included suburban Republican women—only larger enough to give the Democrats the opportunity to make real, transformative changes that will reverse the exploitation of the past 40 years—and not only save our chances of preserving the democracy we have but also move it closer to the ideal.

        Like

  4. There’s no such thing as the ‘Weaker sex’, ONLY THE ‘GENTLER SEX’ and often in the face of violence the ‘It’s better to keep the peace sex’. Women like Nancy Pelosi prove that Women are strong and can achieve stature in a male dominated world where it’s usually only the male opinion of themselves that holds sway. I think it’s often fear that brings these males scuttling out in support of each other. Fear that females may show they can do the job better than their male counterparts. I personally have always wanted more Women in politics because I always doubt there’d be as many wars with a reluctance to send their children off to kill other children overseas. They would look for paths to peace, not through weakness but for the sake of preservation of the family. I say children because there were many less than 18 years old in Vietnam.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you! Nancy Pelosi is a personal hero, often vilified by people who don’t know how much good she’s done and continues to do (and those on the other side who know all too well!).

      I agree with you about women leaders. You may be interested in a post I wrote last March about why women leaders were most effective combating Covid.

      https://annieasksyou.com/tag/women-leaders/

      (Of course, there are also the Indira Gandhis and Margaret Thatchers, but in general…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m afraid in my country Margaret Thatcher’s name is not much honoured though I personally liked some of her policies. She was not the warmest of people and didn’t brook criticism but maybe that’s where she found her strength.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I meant no offense. But one of the points you made—which meshed with the findings I cited in my post about these successful women leaders—is that women can manage to be both strong and humane. They also listened well and placed a high value on being good communicators.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Annie. Two things stand out to me in Alito’s ruling. He is driven by his religious beliefs to rule based on his religious feelings / dictates more than the rule of law, and he reached back to a time when the church mostly created the rules / laws people lived under to justify that ruling. Over the last decade Alito has been very open about his hard turn to push his Catholic religion in every ruling no matter if he is assenting or dissenting, all his rulings follow his religion. If his religion conflicts with the law, the law loses and his religion wins. He gives speches and is known to frequent the well-known Catholic school / groups. He has said that the worst threat to the nation is the liberals posed a growing threat to religious liberty. So he had to reach back to a time when his religion made the laws and was the dominant religion among the Europeans of the time. Alito belongs to the secret Opus Dei’s group that operates in secret within the church system and is charged with gaining power and money for the church. To this aim they target powerful people in the world, military leaders, wealthy businessmen, members of government, and of course judges.

    My apologies for such a long quote below. I thought it was important to show how many interconnected highly driven religious people of this group are in position of power and control in the US. Please edit the quote / comment as you wish. But when you look at the regression of civil rights in the last decade, these secret religious groups are the driving force behind it. It scares me that these people view the Handmaid’s Tale as an instruction manual.

    “It’s widely known that Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas belong to Opus Dei – and that Chief Justice John Roberts may also be a member,” stated Matthew Fox, a former priest, progressive theologian and author of more than 23 books.

    The 2017-2018 Washington D.C. Fellows include those employed in the federal government: White House, State Department, the House of Representatives, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, prestigious law firms, conservative think tanks, higher education and medicine.

    As an example of “military personnel,” veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh “claimed that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Vice Admiral William McRaven and others in the JSOC were members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei.” JSOC is “the elite Special Ops force” who killed Osama bin Laden. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals … This is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally,” Hersh reported. “He added that members of these societies have developed a secret set of insignias that represent ‘the whole notion that this is a culture war’ between religions.”

    In government, Larry Kudlow is Trump’s director of the National Economic Council. Plutocracy is “just what America needs,” Kudlow wrote in December 2016. “Putting the incredibly wealthy in charge of the U.S. government” is described as Kudlow’s great idea.

    Kudlow is one of Fr. John McCloskey’s notable converts to Catholicism. McCloskey was director of Catholic Information Center from 1998-2002.

    Another McCloskey convert is former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, now Trump’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

    Mick Mulvaney will serve as Trump’s acting White House Chief of Staff, beginning in 2019. He remains as director of Trump’s White House Office of Management and Budget and interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney “has reportedly met with a long list of lobbyists, corporate executives and wealthy people with business interests before the government.” His meeting with Opus Dei’s Jeff Bell, architect of Reaganomics, covered “religious and political matters.”

    Trump appointed C-Fam (formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute), the “intensely anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ group” headed by Opus Dei’s Austin Ruse, to the U.S. delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

    As to members who “control a large number of banks and financial institutions,” Pope Francis has appointed many of them to the Vatican.

    http://churchandstate.org.uk/2019/03/opus-deis-influence-on-the-u-s-judiciary/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Scottie—
      I drafted a response that seems to have been swallowed up. So again:

      Now I don’t have to put together a post about Alito!😉

      I think it’s worth pointing out that Opus Dei—while overwhelmingly powerful—is at the far right, and many people who consider themselves Catholic support abortion, despite the teachings of their church.

      And even more important in this regard is knowing about Leonard Leo, who’s probably more responsible for creating this radical Supreme Court than anyone else. I’m linking to a Daily Beast article that has a quotation I think every American who wonders how we reached this point should know. A colleague of Leo’s called him a “visionary” who realized 20 years ago that “conservatives” (my quotation marks; they ain’t conserving) would lose if they relied on public opinion re: abortion, contraception, gay marriage. (They knew even their own “flock” wasn’t with them.) So their only way to impose their beliefs on our nation was to “stack the courts.” He’s done it on the lower courts and the SC.

      https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-secrets-of-leonard-leo-the-man-behind-trumps-supreme-court-pick

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s worth remembering that there’s actually not much difference between men and women in attitudes about abortion — that is, there are about as many anti-choice women as anti-choice men. So this isn’t a men-vs-women thing, it’s pro-freedom vs anti-freedom. I can well believe that more women than men take sexual assaults very seriously, especially in conservative areas, but there’s not going to be a universal rallying of women to support abortion rights, when just as many women as men oppose them.

    A majority of Americans support the right to abortion in most cases, so there’s a good chance that the coming new prohibitions can be resisted effectively, but trying to turn it into a men-vs-women thing would be just another example of an effective response to a problem being stymied by identity politics.

    As an aside, the main accusation against Franken was that he grabbed a woman and forced his tongue into her mouth — a penetrative sexual assault, which is not trivial. He deserved to be forced out of office.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Infidel, I regret that in the comments, we moved closer to a “we/they” position that is substantially different from my focus in the piece: the radical Republican men running for office and the radical Supreme Court minority usurping our rights.

      But I stand by my emphasis on the gender gap in voting. While men and women’s views on abortion are closely aligned, I don’t see how the passion women feel about this violation can be found in even the most empathetic men. I say that knowing you have literally put yourself on the line to help women on this issue. That’s huge. I just take issue with your depicting this as identity politics.

      The voting gender gap is real and has been documented since the US Census first began tracking it. It led to a substantial win in 2018 but a drop in 2020. I’m hoping that a coalition with disaffected Republican women can be recaptured and expanded.

      With regard to Al Franken, I was suspicious when the primary accuser you referred to, a pro-trump birther, surfaced just as the effective Franken took trump on. Some of the other women later said they regretted their accusations. I’ve appended a transcript from an interview that Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air did with Jane Mayer, a relentless investigative reporter and self-identifying “me-too” woman, about Franken and his accusers. It’s long, so I’m summarizing the key points.

      Mayer found lots of holes in that first accuser’s story. She interviewed all the women and found that in some cases he’d done things like kissing them without asking that could be deemed offensive. But he was a touchy-feely guy who was in a milieu where he was also often touched—in the days of SNL, etc.

      The important point to me was that all incidents occurred before 2007. At some point, someone close to him said some people could find his behavior offensive and he should stop doing it. He was surprised, but he stopped—and never did it again.

      Mayer’s conclusion was that this is not the behavior of a predator. She said some of the strongest me-too proponents expressed concern that failing to distinguish between Franken and a Harvey Weinstein could be damaging to this movement’s important message of the need for women to be listened to.

      Franken never got a chance to defend himself. I think everyone deserves such a chance.

      https://www.npr.org/2019/07/25/745232345/journalist-jane-mayer-on-the-many-mysteries-in-the-accusations-against-al-franke

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Annie, excellent posting. As always, in depth, accurate and provoking me further on in the thought of the discussion you have structured so well.

    So now, a week later, I see more of what disturbed me so much of the facts in your posting. We all know of the dangers of those who want and see a need to control others rights, privacy, their lives and maybe in the end their life

    Payton S. Gendron and Max Bernegger have something in common. They both stated their violent intent on controlling others rights but one went further and took it into his own hands and killed 10 injuring more.

    White. Feeling privileged. Stating a fear they have of being out of control. One sounding violent and the other acting so. In this country this is business as usual. I keep feeling we have been here so many times before and never move on and just so I make myself clear, we will never move on. Those that take power into their own hands will always do so.

    Since the Columbine HS massacre we know that these young men, teens and those barely along into their 20’s, know how to plan and execute to a moment their desire to kill and maim as many as possible. They do it for the purpose of controlling others and strike fear.

    They are cowards all. They live behind their lies to themselves. They state lies to justify their actions. They take and give nothing. They do not learn but teach. They teach others how they can make a difference and still others that fear is a powerful motivator. Their fears motivate them and our fear of them have created a new industries to try to keep them in check at schools, airports, hospitals, work places, public locations. However, we know that with all of the tech we have to do so, they have the lies that spur themselves on.

    I do not know much of Payton S. Gendron who is now in custody and will spend every day of his life as such. I do not need more. His actions speak to all I will ever need to know.

    The ‘Staples HS young republican’ anti choice moron acting Max Bernegger from the disturbing video was arrested when he was 18 and charged in an earlier situation back in 2020 during the presidential election. See CT NEWS story ‘Westport police make arrests in threatening signs case’. Found or maybe pleading guilty, fined and probably not jailed for any of his juvenile antics and disgusting behavior, will he ever grow up or be a future Stephen Miller, Bret Kavenaugh or any number of disturbing men that need to control others and reduce individual rights while living a lie and propagating fear in our society?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Charles, I’m pleased that my post gets you thinking. And your comment got me thinking, which is always my goal here: we learn from each other. In linking the obvious killer and the hate-filled dopey agent-provocateur trumpie with Stephen Miller and Brett Kavanaugh, you are linking a person who was directly responsible for people’s deaths/injuries with another who might or might not follow that dreadful path–and two others who put in place policies/rulings that have been and will be harmful to vast numbers of human beings but seem to be beyond the reach of laws and insulated from voters. So we need to be talking about a vast number of issues. Gun control. First amendment rights. Regulation of social network platforms. Better education of teachers, school administrators, police officers. etc, etc.

      And if anything has shown how important it is to address the evils of racism directly, the horror one young terrorist wreaked on Black Americans shopping for groceries should become a symbol.

      Lots to chew on here, but some of these issues–such as the right to have an abortion and gun control–are not beyond voters: a majority of Americans support them. We have a voice.

      Like

  8. BTW. In addition to my comment yesterday. There is nothing new here. Between the slaughter of innocent people from the African American community in Buffalo NY to the halls of the legislative procedures in states and the federal level to deny women their fundamental health and privacy rights; it has been going on for the 500 years this country in its various forms has existed. It is business as usual and all suffer for its demoralizing effects of decay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still have hope in the younger generation in general, who are more likely to be accepting of others. I do see this trump-revealed violence and its Republican shills as the last gasp of a dying old America. If we get past these next two elections with our democratic promise intact, we will emerge as a strong multicultural democracy. That would be huge.

      Like

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