First, a quick moment to celebrate. Let me say that when I heard that TIME had awarded a crew of whistleblowing women the title of “Person of the Year,” I felt warm with inspiration. Slumped on mass transit, having just left my sick baby at home to be tended by her sleep-deprived father, I appreciated the defiant faces staring directly at me. You will have no eyelash-batting from these ladies (and one man), and no coy expressions, either.
Some of the faces were recognizable, especially for those following the allegations aimed at Harvey Weinstein: actors and activists Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, and Alyssa Milano. Others were less familiar: Sandra Pezqueda, a 37-year-old dishwasher, Juana Melara, a 52-year-old housekeeper, and Blaise Godbe Lipman, a 28-year-old director. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with their stories, and, unsurprisingly, they took a backseat to the celebrity experiences.
As bold and beautiful as the images are, the message is a murky one. After the authors describe what President Donald Trump said in the Access Hollywood tape as “vulgar,” an insufficient description for unequivocally bragging about sexual assault, I decided to search for two words on the web page: “patriarchy” or “misogyny.” Zero results. So in the end it took three journalists, who knows how many editors and other staff, and more than a dozen sources to provide no context whatsoever.
It’s disappointing, to say the least, but the #MeToo movement has been deeply flawed, anyway. Actor, writer, and white feminist Lena Dunham recently came under fire for excluding women of color from her activism. Last month, she released a statement excusing a male writer on her show, Girls, from being accused of sexual assault by a woman of color, saying that the alleged victim represented “the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.” It diverged from this comment she had made shortly before: “Things women don’t lie about: rape.” This is the ugly side of white feminism: invisible privilege and covert racism lurking in massive blind spots.
This is a complicated movement, and one that naturally, and essentially, dredges up all kinds of inconvenient human contradictions.
This week, two more accusers have come out against Democratic Sen. Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live comic. Franken was recently defended in a letter written by a host of SNL female comics, although his behavior was not denied, as in the Dunham case. But I don’t see why any emotionally progressive woman—not necessarily politically progressive—would feel moved to draft and sign a letter giving alternate testimony to a politically powerful man being investigated for “sexual misconduct.” Survivors of harassment and abuse represent the political minority, and they don’t need any extra barriers to justice, especially a portrait of Franken as “a devoted and dedicated family man.”
What makes it even easier to critique the TIME coverage of “silence breakers” is this simple fact: In 80 years, no American woman has won TIME’s “Person of the Year” by herself.
According to the Washington Post, in the past 91 years the magazine has selected only one American woman—Wallis Simpson, “who earned the title in 1936 thanks to her relationship with King Edward VIII, a relationship which eventually led to his giving up his throne.” Evidently, TIME uses a calculus that makes dozens of women equivalent to one Trump.
Then there’s this. TIME ends its story with Megyn Kelly, who, predictably, reveals some internalized misogyny. Her call to survivors of sexual harassment and assault? ““What if we did complain?’ proposes Megyn Kelly. “What if we didn’t whine, but we spoke our truth in our strongest voices and insisted that those around us did better?’” It is a tone-deaf choice in the context of this movement to grant the closing reflections to a former Fox News anchor who has been widely criticized for targeting Black activist groups and shaming women for plastic surgery.
So don’t go congratulating yourself yet for this so-called groundbreaking choice, TIME editors and publishers. But maybe, as our society is, you’re growing —slowly, excruciatingly slowly—toward wider understanding.
Did Trump know Robert Hyde was stalking Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch?
Robert Hyde is a businessman and former marine who's running against Democrat Jahana Hayes for the 5th Congressional seat in Connecticut. He’s the newest entry into the dramatis personae of the Trump-Ukraine saga. Text messages released by the House suggest Hyde was stalking Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Lev Parnas, who turned over the messages, says he never took Hyde seriously. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Parnas maligned Hyde’s character, saying he never saw him when he was not drunk. Parnas is one of Rudy Giuliani’s goons. In one way or another, he has been at the center of the president’s conspiracy to smear Joe Biden and rewrite the history of 2016 so that Ukraine, not Russia, is the enemy. Parnas is now under indictment for violating campaign-finance laws. He’s coming forward with what he knows about Donald Trump in an apparent bid for leniency.
Here’s the bizarre truth about the power of Donald Trump’s toilet obsession
For Donald Trump, the personal certainly is the political.
He has shown himself to be a malignant narcissist. He is an egomaniac. Trump's personal obsessions drive most if not all of his behavior. He has no conception, care or concern for most other people.
Trump's personal and political brand is grievance-mongering and a false narrative of white victimhood. This won Donald Trump the White House and remains the bedrock of his political cult and popularity.
Lev Parnas spins wild tales of Trumpian corruption — and we know most of them are true
Following the rules of an anachronistic 18th-century ritual, the House managers walked in formation to the Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment on Thursday. The sergeant at arms informed the senators that if they speak during the trial they could be imprisoned, and then the chief justice arrived in his robes accompanied by four senators. He then administered the constitutionally prescribed oath to deliver impartial justice to the assembled senators, after which, one by one, they signed their names to a book. The only thing missing was the white wigs.