Weinstein, Trump, and the Conservative Contempt for Women

Peggy taught high school math and science in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, in the mid-seventies. She was 22 and diminutive with a trim figure, brown eyes, and long brown hair. She looked so young that, on the first day of school, another teacher mistook her for a student and scolded her for being in the teachers' lounge. Mississippi teachers still paddled at the time, but the only kids who needed disciplining were boys who were much bigger than Peggy, and who laughed at her paddlings. One day as she leaving school, three boys met her in hallway. Two of them penned her arms behind her, and the third held a knife in her face. Peggy struggled, and the knife nicked her. The boys immediately let her go.

She told her principal of the incident, but heard nothing back. When she asked him about it, he told her that the matter had been "handled." When she demanded to know what "handled" meant, he said he had spanked the boys. It was the same same punishment he would have given for throwing spitballs. Peggy appealed the matter to the school board, and I went with her to the meeting. Peggy, the boys, their parents, and I were left in an outer room until the board got to her appeal. One of the mothers screamed at Peggy for "getting my boy into trouble," and then shoved her. I stood between the woman and Peggy, and warned the woman to back off. The board wouldn't let me into the meeting, so I remained with the boys and their parents. I told them that I hoped Peggy would file a criminal complaint. 

 The boys told the board that they hadn't meant to harm Peggy, and that she wouldn't have been cut had she not struggled. The board informed Peggy that these were "good kids." Its members then demanded to know what Peggy had worn that day; why she had remained at school after the final bell; and what she had done to make the boys think they could get away with treating her as they did. They quickly decided that the principal's punishment had been adequate. Instead of going to work the next morning, Peggy and I went to a lawyer. He wrote to the board saying that because they had failed to follow their own rules (which called for expulsion as the punishment for assaulting a teacher), as well as the laws of the State of Mississippi, Peggy no longer felt safe in her person or her property, and was unwilling to return to work.

The principal expressed dismay that she had become so upset over such a "trivial issue," told her that she was a fine teacher, and implored her to stay. The students got up a petition and, when she still refused to stay, bought her a going away present. She then went to nursing school, and finished her career life as a registered nurse. As I look back, I think she did right in not pressing charges because she would have surely been as victimized by the court as she had been by the school board.

I remembered this incident when I heard the news of Harvey Weinstein being called to task after decades of sexually demeaning and assaulting women. I further reflected upon the fact that, what Weinstein did and lied about, our president boasted of doing. As he put it: “Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” 

Why, then, did 52% of the women who voted in the last presidential election vote for Donald Trump? While Weinstein gave money to liberal politicians, liberal women have never, to my knowledge, intentionally voted for a sexual predator for president, nor were the politicians who took Weinstein's money aware of what an asshole he was. So what makes liberal women different from conservative women, and why is a president who exemplifies none of the virtues of Christ so popular among the sort of men who sat on Peggy's school board, by which I mean white evangelical Christians? Perhaps you can show me a way to shake off my conviction that conservative politics and conservative religion are diseased to the core, and that their cancer doesn't stop with their contempt for the rights of women, but rather extends to the support of policies that harm all classes of marginalized people--the very people that Jesus championed. 

Organized Christianity is already on the wane in America, and I can but hope that both it and America's political conservatives have firmly set their feet on the banana skin to hell by having aligned themselves with a party and a candidate who prove that all of their talk about love and brotherhood--as well as their claims of respect for women--is utter bullshit. I have long been accustomed to blatant Christian hypocrisy, but nothing has made me loathe religion more than the ongoing Christian support for Trump. In the minds of many, if not most, conservative Christians, nothing that a liberal does can meet with their high moral expectations, while nothing that a conservative does can disappoint them.


Anonymous said...

Everything said here is how I feel

Snowbrush said...

"Everything said here is how I feel."

It feels good to know I'm not alone. I often hear how terrible it is that Americans are so alienated from one another, and I think that, well, when you elect a man like Trump, what did you expect. It's one thing to be tolerant of differences, but the only person who can be tolerant of unconscionable evil is the person who holds nothing sacred.

Elephant's Child said...

It isn't limited to your country either. Sadly, the behaviour when we (briefly) had a female Prime Minister was appalling. And one of our noisily christian Liberal politicians (probably the party closest to your Republicans) appointed himself Minister for Women when he became Prime Minister and could only find two women he considered qualified for Ministerial roles.

kylie said...

Conservative Christianity seems to be code for "I'm backwards and proud of it and I'm going to judge you if you are not"
These are the people who use Christianity as a drawcard for their business or their political position or some other abusable position of power.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Sadly you are so, so right about the utter hypocrisy of the 'religious' right.
In Southeast Michigan, we have a large Chaldean population (Christian Iraqis) whose church leaders urged them to vote for Trump. Guess who got deported (But we voted for him).

The story about Peggy's assault was heart breaking. I too was assaulted as a first year teacher (it was my last year too) though I was trying to save a girl who was being beat up by her boyfriend in the hall (outside the class I was teaching).

I do appreciate the time and thought you have put into your last two posts. I was a bit taken back by you being comfortable only around fellow European derived folk. Though I have only Northern European ancestors, my family is a mix of Jews, Arabs, African-Americans and Asian.

Strayer said...

I wonder how churches get nonprofit status when most discriminate so openly against women. The statement made, that these are good boys, hit a chord with me. When I lived in Corvallis, I would go to the postal outlet in the true Value hardware store. I chatted with the clerks and having no life then, being in the mental system, it was a big deal to have people I thought were friendly. The store was owned by a local county commissioner. One day I stand in line at the postal outlet and the guy selling stamps suddenly comes around from behind the counter with urgency in his face, saying he had to ask me something, but out behind the store. Even then I was helping cats, and figured it would be something about cats. He was furtive and looked like crap. Out back, he said he needed a favor. He said he was having a military reunion and needed a woman to take photos of him in the nude, but not as his place, since he lived with his mother, out, way way out, by a rural lake, after dark. Inside, I fell immediately, knowing this was a ploy to rape me or worse and that in his mind, knowing I was in the mental system, I could be talked into this and if something horrible happened to me, nobody would care. I stormed out of the store, but came right back, loudly declaring what he had asked of me. The manager, the commissioners' son, ushered me into his office, said it would be taken care. Later he called me, and told me my fear of his employee was a mental health issue, that Daryl "was a good man", and that he'd talked to the chief of police, a woman then, about me, and she had assured me I was just a mental case. They did nothing but humiliate me. The employee faced no consequences. I had celebration when that store went out of business and another when the commissioner recently lost a bid for re election. My response to him way back then, when he said the employee was a good man was that good men don't behave that way.

Snowbrush said...

"It isn't limited to your country either."

Or to conservatives, although they are especially prominent when it comes to sexism and sex crimes. Because America's conservatives embrace a religion that is sexually repressive, their sexuality often takes more sinister forms, and if this is true of America's Christians, it is ten times more true of conservative members of some of the world's other religions--just look at the many parts of the world in which a lone woman can't even venture into public without being groped if not gang-raped. Muslims seem to be the worst, but things aren't good for Mexico Catholic's or India's Hindus either. Before our current president boasted of sexually touching women without their consent, I can only think of two presidents who, during my lifetime, were guilty of sexual indiscretion--Kennedy and Clinton, both of whom were liberals. When it comes to Congress, it's another matter, with the very people who are most adamant about "family values" being the people who are most likely to be caught in sexual indiscretions. The most recent example was married Congressman and outspoken anti-abortionist, Tim Murphy, who resigned after being caught encouraging his mistress to have an abortion. I am a member of a freethought group. In its monthly newsletter, it lists three large pages of "crimes of the clergy." These stories are taken from local newspapers, and are condensed in small font. Any crime you can think of is included, although sex crimes constitute about 90% of the list. Of these crimes, nearly all of them are on the part of Catholics and evangelicals. This is one of the things that led me to conclude while writing this post that the problem with utter wickedness and hypocrisy on the part of conservative religious people is systemic. In other words, it's not a case of bad people joining a good politco-religious system, but of a bad politico-religious people making ordinary people bad. Nothing has made this more clear to me than the endorsement of Trump by evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Catholics. Trump is a man who goes out of his way to let everyone know exactly how wicked he is, but instead of abandoning him in droves, the religious community clings to him ever more tightly. I heard a conservative talk show host say that when he told his Sunday school class that he wouldn't be voting for Trump, one of the women in the class said that she wanted to plant her fist in his face. This is how deeply aligned American Christians have become to conservative politics, and I can't imagine but what it's not going to be disastrous to them in the longrun. When a non-religious person in America thinks about Christianity, it's probably not Christ who first comes to mind but Trump because the most common face of American Christianity has come to look less to God for salvation as to man, specifically to one man, Donald Trump.

Snowbrush said...

"Conservative Christianity seems to be code for "I'm backwards and proud of it and I'm going to judge you if you are not'"

It's like the South of my segregationist childhood in that the more it's loathed by "outsiders" the tighter it circles the wagons, confident in the Bible verse that proclaims that, when God is on your side, the world will hate you. There is no longer a distinction between evangelical Christianity and conservative politics, by which I mean that, if you belong to the one, you almost certainly belong to the other. Even if I believed in the saving power of Christ, I would not be welcome in an evangelical church if I didn't also believe in the saving power of the Republican Party. John Kennedy made a famous speech to a large group of evangelical Christians in which he sought to allay concerns about his Catholicism by saying, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute" (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16920600). Evangelicals cheered him then, but now, one of their prominent leaders, Rick Santorum, said that Kennedy's words made him "want to throw-up" (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/santorum-throw-up-jfk-kennedy-speech_n_1307214.html).

Clearly, if you're an enemy of Donald Trump, you are, by default, an enemy of America's dominant conservative religion (i.e. evangelical, fundamentalist, and much of American Catholicism) because conservative religion won't let you be anything else. It's one coin with two sides, and its proclamation of loving the Baby Jesus and all he stands for doesn't even pass the straight-face test because it would hold that, if a stable was the best place that his mother and stepfather could afford for his birth, then his mother and step-father were lazy bums who should be taken off the public dole. What I'm telling you about the animus that America's conservative Christians hold for the poor has been consistently borne out by polls, for example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/03/christians-are-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-blame-a-persons-poverty-on-lack-of-effort/?utm_term=.c680672fa877 .

Snowbrush said...

"I too was assaulted as a first year teacher"

Peggy was doomed by her youth and appearance. She was shy and soft-spoken, and had no meaningful support in dealing with the challenges of large boys who saw her as someone they wanted to date rather than someone they respected as an authority figure (it was no secret that a male teacher in this same school was dating a student, a student that he married her after she graduated).

"I was a bit taken back by you being comfortable only around fellow European derived folk. Though I have only Northern European ancestors, my family is a mix of Jews, Arabs, African-Americans and Asian."

I can but thank my lucky stars that you still want to be friends. According to 23andMe (who service I highly recommend) I too have black ancestors (specifically West African) and even some Neanderthal blood. I don't know if I'm sufficiently non-Aryan to give a neo-Nazi group pause if I applied for membership, but I am UTTERLY DELIGHTED that I have ancestors who weren't Northern European or even Homo Sapiens, and I can but wish that I also had the American Indian blood that I grew-up being told that I had. What I was talking about wasn't racial purity as such but cultural homogeneity, and putting forth my belief that the one follows the other. That said, I'm certainly racist in ways. For example, I don't know if Jews are inherently smarter than other groups, but they sure stand out for their intellectual contributions and also (to my surprise and delight given how they've suffered) to humor. Because I want to have religion in my life but don't believe in a personal deity, I've often yearned to join a Reformed synagogue. When I lived in Mississippi, I sometimes visited such a synagogue in Jackson (both the synagogue and the rabbi's home had been dynamited by the Klan because it was active in the Civil Rights movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_Beth_Israel_(Jackson,_Mississippi). Eastern Asian Americans also excel intellectually beyond the percentage they constitute of the population. Of course, this doesn't PROVE that they--or Jews--have more innate intelligence, it certainly being the case that they commonly place a greater cultural emphasis on mental achievement.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I was 22 and had long blond hair when I taught. I was often mistaken for a student though I never have been petite (I am 5'*8). I could have pressed charges though the girl who was beaten up should have, I didn't.

I am glad that you cleared up the statement about being most comfortable with people of European heritage. I too am much more comfortable with people who have the same politics as I regardless of their ethnic background. I do believe also that excelling in school is a cultural value that many Jewish and Asian people have. I went to a high school in which 50% of the students were Jewish but in the Advanced Placement classes, I was often the only shiksa. And in science and math classes, one of very few girls.I did have a last name common to Jewish people (though in my case, it is Scottish) and often told I really don't look Jewish. That's because I am not Jewish.
One of my grandaughter's other grandmother was quite proud of her alleged native American heritage. I had this granddaughter tested (ancestry) No Native blood showed up but she is from all parts of Africa, not just the West equatorial regions that I assumed most African-Americans are from.

Emma Springfield said...

I began screaming in my mind as soon as I began reading your post. You said many of the same things I have been saying for years. Harvey Weinstein is a cancer as is the other predator you mentioned. I remember reading about a teenage girl who was raped at school. The judge did not convict the rapists because "she was dressed provocatively" and they could not control their desires because of that. She was wearing sweat pants and a bulky sweat shirt. In another ase a two-year-old girl seduced the guy who raped her. And there are countless woen in their 80's and 90's whose wiles forced young men into raping them. All too often when a female is raped and tried to get justice she is the one put on trial. I keep hoping for the day that all these "good" boys have to pay for their actions. Then perhaps their parents will think before allowing the boys free reign. And then there are the bullies like those who attacked (yes attacked) Peggy. I am so sorry she had to endure that crap. And you were more or less helpless to protect her because after all they were "just boys being boys". A huge percentage of us have tales of sexual assault in one degree or another. And now men are coming forward to say that they have had problems too. And who would they tell? With a female she is supposed to blame herself for being so seductive. Men are made to feel less manly. When will it be the fault of the predator? I am glad you wrote about this. Now I must go work off some of my anger so my brain will stop screaming.

angela said...

I s, do sorry peg had to go through all that. Times were bad for women and with all the idiots in power, and the idiots giving them that power, it feel like nothing is ever going to change

Kranhu said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It is outrageous what happened to Peggy!
Back during my college days, my friends and I worked at Fred Meyer candy kitchen. While standing in front of a conveyor belt packing candy, one of the fellows would come back to say hello to the gals, patting them on their behinds. He didnt try that with my friends(summer help) but the full time employees were targets and of course they giggled.”Oh, Sam!”
Is treatment of women All About Eve? The temptress in the Garden of Eden, men cant help themselves?

Snowbrush said...

"I wonder how churches get nonprofit status when most discriminate so openly against women."

I know. They also, commonly, openly violate the terms of their nonprofit status (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_Amendment) by political campaigning (for several years, many churches sent tapes to the IRS in which their preachers did this). This year, Trump boasted that he had "gotten rid of the Johnson Amendment," but he had no power to do so. Unlike the rest of us, preachers can also claim a tax exemption on money they spend on housing.

"knowing I was in the mental system, I could be talked into this and if something horrible happened to me, nobody would care."

"This American Life" had a segment yesterday about disabled women in general being way more likely to be raped than other women. I hadn't really thought about this except when it comes to blind people, who are obviously vulnerable to all kinds of horrors.

"I was often mistaken for a student though I never have been petite (I am 5'*8)"

Peggy is 5'3".

"I do believe also that excelling in school is a cultural value that many Jewish and Asian people have."

The question is one of why they hold this value. I don't think that our society, at least, will ever be open to researching the differences regarding race and ethnicity because we're too afraid of what we might find. It's surely obviously that the number of black men who excel in contact sports suggests that they possess a racial superiority in those sports, so, by the same token, might there not be things in which other groups excel by virtue of some innate ability?

Snowbrush said...

"The judge did not convict the rapists because 'she was dressed provocatively'"

I've heard that Middle Eastern students who come to American universities often assume that American women must be immoral based upon the fact that they don't completely cover themselves, and this was the kind of thinking that the judge was engaging in. Still, if I had a daughter who, unlike the girl you wrote about, intentionally dressed provocatively, I would be horrified. While I would hate to think a judge would allow such thoughts to influence the severity of the sentence he imposes, I also believe that stupidity has consequences. For example, while I wouldn't deserve to be mugged if I walked through a slum at midnight, prudence would demand that I not walk through a slum at midnight. Likewise, I shouldn't flip people off in traffic. I saw a man with a cap that read, "Fuck you." While I don't believe that anyone should be assaulted for what they wear, that man might reasonably expect to be assaulted. The question then becomes whether it's appropriate to feel greater pity for some victims of a crime than for other victims of the same crime. I found the way that Peggy was treated to be so utterly abhorrent partially based upon my knowledge of her as a modest and respectable woman. If I had thought that she had been giving off mixed signals to those boys (through her body language and the way she dressed), I would have still felt horribly aggrieved, but somewhat less horribly aggrieved because I would have been disappointed in her. As it was, I interpreted her victimization as having been complete in that it came upon a fine woman who was completely innocent of all provocation except for the fact that she was young and pretty. What, if any, standards of dress does society have a right to impose. For example, I don't think that man's obscene cap qualified as protected speech, so if we can agree about this, then about the other ways in which one might dress?

Snowbrush said...

"In another case a two-year-old girl seduced the guy who raped her."

Sexual predators commonly blame their victims, as do those who abet them. I've had two good friends from whom I pulled away when I realized that, if they weren't molesters, they certainly wanted to be. One of them told me that a four year old who had acted flirtatiously around him was "asking for it," and I'm sure that the other man would have molested a young family member if I hadn't been there. These events occurred close together when I was in my upper-twenties, and they provided my first glimpse into how child molesters think. So far as I'm aware, there's no way to redeem molesters, and so I strongly favor putting them to death. because they're predators pure and simple, and society has the right to be free of them. That said, the more severe the penalty, the less likely it is that the crime will be reported, especially if the criminal is a close member of the victim's family.

"it feel like nothing is ever going to change"

I think that public awareness has changed a good bit, but of course, there will always be predators.

"one of the fellows would come back to say hello to the gals, patting them on their behinds...the full time employees were targets and of course they giggled.”Oh, Sam!'”

It's sad that women feel that their own defense is to use humor as a deflection, but the fact is that when women complain, they often end up in the position of Peggy who, by complaining, opened herself to further and even more malignant, victimization on the part of her school board. The board made it clear that she could either live with the possibility of more abuse, or she could quit, yet when she quit, the principal, at least, was horrified. That alone said volumes about the prevalent regard for the rights of women. So far as I'm aware, she got no support from anyone other than myself. (she's gone for the weekend, or I would ask her). Today (here in urban Oregon at least), the story might even make the local news, and the union would be all over it, but in rural Mississippi in the mid-seventies, it was more like what you described at Fred Meyers. When Peggy read this post, she reminded me that one of the three boys was black, and that he was briefly suspended, supposedly because he had recently gotten into other trouble. This was early on in integration in that area, and it was a sad situation all the way around.

Snowbrush said...


Marion said...

Hmmm, seems to me that liberal, democratic, left-leaning Hollyweird is full of pedophiles, rapists and misogynistic assholes. Yet the media mainly focuses on imaginary attacks on Conservatives. Seriously, Snow, are you blind? I'm not defending anyone, just stating the facts. The hypocrisy of the left is mind-boggling. Hope you're feeling better. xo

Snowbrush said...

"Snow, are you blind?"

How might I answer that question since, if I were "blind," I presumably wouldn't know it?

"Hmmm, seems to me that liberal, democratic, left-leaning Hollyweird is full of pedophiles, rapists and misogynistic assholes."

When you argue that the media is overly devoted to the character assassination of conservatives, aren't you overlooking the fact that Weinstein is a liberal, yet he and others among Hollywood's (presumably liberal) powerful have been talked about on NPR many times a day everyday since the scandal broke, and that they're featured on the national network news every evening. I would also point out that, no matter how immoral people in Hollywood might be, immorality in government is surely a far greater threat to the nation, and that the one has nothing to do with the other.

"Yet the media mainly focuses on imaginary attacks on Conservatives."

What attacks do you consider imaginary? If you're of the opinion that I too am accusing conservatives falsely, tell me who you're referring to. If it's what I wrote aboutJeff Kruse, the Oregon state senator who has been accused by multiple women of groping women senators and lobbyists (as well as regularly smoking in the capitol building), he doesn't deny putting his hands on women without their consent; he simply insists that they shouldn't have been offended. (you might not have heard that the president of the Senate has ordered that Kruse's office door be removed (https://patch.com/oregon/portland/oregon-senate-president-kruse-women-do-not-want-you-touch-them). If you're not referring to the Kruse case as an "imaginary attack," maybe you meant what I wrote about anti-abortion Congressman (Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania), asking his mistress to have an abortion. Murphy left a text trail.

What I would say about Republican debate in general is that, when accused of misdeeds, a common response is to deflect against the accusation with an irrelevant counterattack. The tactic is referred to as whataboutism. For example, if you say that I kicked your dog, I might respond, "Well, what about what your sister did to my cat?" It is unintentionally humorous when the deflector goes far afield. For instance, when Trump was accused of groping women, he responded by asking, whatabout what Bill Clinton did?

Well, what about what Bill Clinton did? He might have groped every third woman on the planet, but his mistreatment of women is unrelated to Donald Trump's mistreatment of women. Whataboutism constitutes a race to the bottom if not a tacit acceptance of guilt because, at the very least, it implies that one person's wrongdoing can be mitigated by someone else's, wrongdoing. For example, even if your sister flayed my cat, her action in no way excuses my action.

I wonder how you feel about this common defense, and how you feel about the four Republican legislators who, while supporting Trump on the issues, oppose him on moral grounds. All that I remember you saying in favor of Trump was that the stock market is going up, but the stock market has been going up for nine years, so it's unclear to what extent Trump is responsible for its rise over the past nine months. Furthermore, now the Republicans are planning to drastically lower what you can contribute to your retirement accounts, it's unlikely that you will benefit as much from the rise as you did under Obama. When I listen to what Trump says and I consider his cruel, illogical, and capricious behavior, I wonder if, in the view of the evangelical Christians who elected him, he is thought to be (according to their interpretation of the Bible) a rational and moral man who takes the high road in his dealings with others, or if they just don't care.