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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dear Media: Rape Is A Thing

Fox has a right-wing cable channel with the word 'news' in its title and demands it has no political bias. This is laughable to every single person in the country who knows the definition of the word 'bias' (which obviously excludes their audience). The left has MSNBC. They never try to dismiss allegations that their commentary comes from the left, however they maintain credibility because they never contend to be something other than they are or make stories out of thin air to create and perpetuate hate or fear in their audience. For some reason, MSNBC feels the need to alienate their audience and offer us a regressive perspective for their morning show, Morning Joe. Its host, Joe Scarborough, is a former Congressman from Florida and his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, is supposed to offer us a perspective from the left.

Sadly, as with my previous condemnations of ABC, MSNBC has gone out of its way to offer American women an unhealthy representation of strong women. Brzezinski is adamant about being a leader for women. She recently wrote a book called "Know Your Value" and started a nationwide tour to teach American women just how to rise and be strong. Meanwhile, every morning she shows us a woman with no backbone who seems quite content with her place as the nodding head next to its superstar from the Regressive Party. She calls herself a feminist while giggling to the boys and literally defining women as the subordinate creatures we were meant to be in the 50s where the men on the show ignore her cutesy little remarks when she tries to speak about politics as if its adorable that she thinks she knows what is going on.

In July, in a long series of unsettling opportunities Brzezinski has taken to rally with the host and any guests about myriad unfounded (later proven to be untrue) rumors about Secretary Clinton, she gave a disgusted and dismissive start to a discussion about the recently released rape allegations against Donald Trump by the Daily Beast. She didn't want to hear about it.

The question of the rape, itself, was not relevant for discussion on Morning Joe. The story the crew offered us was about the reply from Trump's attorney where he literally said that "by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse." (I suppose in their dark world, when a man is married he can pretty much do whatever he wants to his wife and she has no say in it). He then threatened the author of the piece (a woman) in a manner so crude that no feminist or human being should consider lightly, and ended in a sentence which actually sounded like a threat of rape to her. The whole thing was ridiculous to Brzezinski. She passionately feigned disgust when the co-author and editor, Tim Mak of the Daily Beast, came on and then she rolled her eyes while shaking her head. Scarborough even pointed out that he would protect the editor from Mika, because she was so pissed about the fact that rape allegations would be offered about Trump.

Mak pointed out that the reply from Trumps attorney said that spousal rape isn't illegal and Brzezinski literally dismissed him and cut him off saying,"Great. Thank you." Hey Mika, kindly never tell your audience that you want women to know their value while you refuse to hear the story and refuse to take the opportunity to remind your audience that in fact, spousal rape is a thing. And that it is not only deplorable, but illegal. That discussion concluded with Scarborough explaining to America that the reason many good people don't run for political positions is because they are afraid of terrible lies like these coming out about them.

The Morning Joe team never even discussed the actual allegations of the story and why they are incredibly important for Americans to hear. Thankfully, MSNBC was good enough to offer its audience an interview with the author of the piece, Brandy Zadrozny, the night before where she explained the relevance of the story on The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell. O'Donnell was uncharacteristically offensive, however, because he was looking for reasons to remind his audience that the victim in the case, Ivana Trump, still has a friendship with Donald Trump all of these years later. He reminded us that when many marriages end the spouses can still get along for the sake of the children. Thanks for the reminder, Lawrence. That happens with a lot of survivors who are just glad to get out of the cross hairs of bullies. Trump has proudly offered us proof that he is a bully. He tells us that he goes out of his way to be nice to people who are nice to him. Exactly. Bullies often do that. They also, as Trump does, remind us about what happens when they are crossed. Trump makes sure we know that. He had a television show where the objective was for him to be a bully. No woman who left a man like that, with the status and power that he has, would dare speak out about him.

If Trump has shown us anything in the last several months it is that he will absolutely not abide any betrayal (either real or imagined) and if anyone spends a moment of their time thinking he wouldn't do whatever he could to bury this story, they are living in a world completely devoid of reality. Only the article, which no one seems interested in discussing, and O'Donnells show in July offered us insight into what that bully is capable of.

The only time that Ivana Trump testified under oath about the event she called it rape. The entire scene was violent. He yanked fistfuls of hair from her head. The testimony from her friends that O'Donnell couldn't even say on the air was "He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants. 'Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months.'" When she later recanted (through Trumps attorney) this was the statement:
“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me,” the Ivana Trump statement said. “[O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
As with terrorism when the actor is neither foreign nor a Muslim, the media is really desperate to find new words to define rape. Both the word rape in the initial testimony and the account above is offensive and demands further scrutiny. If no one can admit that this updated account sounds like an attempt to minimize rape, they have no business calling themselves a journalist whose sole responsibility is to inform their audience, regardless of who is going to get pissed after you do. Finally, the divorce was granted on the grounds of Donald Trump's "cruel and inhuman treatment' of Ivana. That should trigger someone into thinking deeply about both his respect for women and the possibility of his being their President.

After the divorce, when she was finally away from him and was under a gag order, she changed her story to say that it was an emotional rape. And no one wants to discuss the fact that every single thing she said the week that the story broke in July to defend Trump had to actually be approved by him because of the gag order. What moron believes he, or the attorney above who would be the one to review it, would allow a response that would put the bully in a negative light?

Is it any wonder that the women's movement has been so unsuccessful? Is it remotely curious that in 2015 we still have not been able to get the ERA passed?

We allow for those in our media culture to negate accusations of 40+ women who give undeniably similar stories about Bill Cosby raping them. We allow them to do so even though we have evidence of his having admitted under oath to drugging them beforehand. But we accept a noted celebrity, Whoopi Goldberg, condemning us for believing these women. We have a self-proclaimed feminist on MSNBC refusing to hear an accusation of rape in a desperate attempt to protect the reputation of the man accused, who we all know to be a bully.

Again, I remind my reader, (for whites) there are two laws in our country where it is absolutely justifiable, and maybe even expected, to first be skeptical or dismiss allegations and, in turn, accept that the victim is lying. Those two laws are, of course, rape and domestic violence. If our media can't be held accountable for offering us perspectives in the dismissal of women and their obvious subjugation in the most extreme cases, what type of society are we accepting?

This is where we are in our women's movement: We have a very serious chance of getting our first female President. All news outlets, including the one which is supposed to lean left, offer supposition for every rumor that comes up (they've been giving us rumors for over 20 years now, has no one yet determined they should vet their sources before reporting?), but when serious allegations come out about the rage and danger of a man who is running for the same office, those allegations are dismissed with obvious and extreme prejudice. And the discussion about the dangers of spousal rape are minimized in order to literally promote the character of a bully.

In short, I guess we are fucked. That's where we are. And the media refuses to see their complicity in that fact.


  1. Maggie Quiroga MainorJuly 29, 2015 at 5:25 PM

    Excellent article! More please. Myka makes me ill. Can't watch that show too often. You're right on point in every way. Ivana is the prime example of Trump subjugation. But she cleaned him out. A year later he had to file for bankruptcy.