Donald and Eric Trump’s victim-blaming responses to questions about sexual harassment were condemned in the media, but they echoed right-wing media’s long history of putting the onus on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have suggested that being a sexual assault survivor is a “coveted status,” that victims should “make better decisions,” and that “women need to take some responsibility.”
Donald And Eric Trump Weigh In On Hypothetical Workplace Sexual Harassment
Donald Trump Suggests Women “Find Another Career Or Find Another Company” If They Are Sexually Harassed In The Workplace. In a phone interview with USA Today columnist and Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was asked about the allegations of sexual harassment against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. When Powers questioned “What if someone had treated [Trump’s daughter] Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?,” Trump replied “I would like think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.” From the August 1 USA Today column:
Donald Trump thinks it’s “very sad” that women at Fox News are “complaining” about being sexually harassed by former Fox chief Roger Ailes.
As allegations against his old friend piled up, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 24 that, “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them…And when they write books….and say wonderful things about him….[N]ow, all of a sudden, they're saying these horrible things about him.”
What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?
His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said. [USA Today, 8/1/16]
Eric Trump: Ivanka “Wouldn’t Allow Herself To Be” Subjected To Sexual Harassment. During an interview on CBS This Morning, Eric Trump called his sister Ivanka “a strong, powerful woman” and claimed “she wouldn’t allow herself to be” subjected to sexual harassment, according to CNN. From the August 2 report:
Eric Trump said Tuesday his sister, Ivanka, is “strong” and “powerful” and would never allow herself to be sexually harassed by her boss.
“Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman, she wouldn't allow herself to be [subjected] to it, and by the way, you should take it up with Human Resources, and I think she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don't think she would allow herself to be subjected to that,” he told CBS's Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning” while discussing former Fox News head Roger Ailes alleged sexual harassment of women employees. [CNN.com, 8/2/16]
Media Condemn Trumps’ Responses For “Victim Blaming”
ThinkProgress’ Laurel Raymond: “The Trump Family’s Reactions Place The Blame For The Harassment Squarely On The Victim’s Shoulders.” ThinkProgress reporter Laurel Raymond highlighted how Donald and Eric Trump “are implying that if sexual advances are made to a woman against her will, it’s her fault.” Raymond explained that the comments “perpetuate the very culture that prevents women from coming forward and ending their harassment.” From an August 2 article:
If a woman is sexually harassed at work, Donald Trump says she should leave and find a new job. Eric Trump thinks it means she allowed it to happen to her.
The Trump family’s reactions place the blame for the harassment squarely on the victim’s shoulders — and perpetuate the very culture that prevents women from coming forward and ending their harassment.
Taken together, father and son are implying that if sexual advances are made to a woman against her will, it’s her fault. The onus is on the victim to change her behavior and sacrifice her career, not the person who was actually acting illegally. [ThinkProgress, 8/2/16]
Vox’s Emily Crockett: Donald And Eric Trump “Made Appalling, Victim-Blaming Comments” About Sexual Harassment In The Workplace. Vox’s Emily Crockett called Donald and Eric Trumps’ reactions “appalling” and “victim-blaming.” Crockett wrote that it was “dismaying” that in their responses, neither Donald nor Eric Trump “could bring himself to place blame on the actual person doing the harassing,” instead suggesting that women would “shoulder the burden of dealing with the problem, or preventing it from happening in the first place.” From the August 2 article:
Add sexual harassment to the list of topics Donald Trump doesn’t understand too well. Both the Republican presidential nominee and his son Eric made appalling, victim-blaming comments in the past 24 hours when asked how they would feel if Ivanka Trump were sexually harassed at work.
[I]t’s dismaying that even if the victim were his own daughter or sister, neither man could bring himself to place blame on the actual person doing the harassing. Ivanka alone would shoulder the burden of dealing with the problem, or preventing it from happening in the first place. [Vox, 8/2/16]
NY Magazine’s Claire Landsbaum: Donald Trump “Continued His Pattern Of Victim-Blaming” New York magazine staff writer Claire Landsbaum wrote that Trump “continued his pattern of victim-blaming” when discussing sexual harassment, adding that his “stance on workplace harassment runs in the family” as “Eric Trump backed him up.” From the August 2 article:
On Monday, Donald Trump continued his pattern of victim-blaming when he told USA Today that, should his daughter — Ivanka Trump — be sexually harassed at work, he would, “like to think she would find another career or find another company.” That was in response to a question about whether he still stands behind ex–Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who's been accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment, and whom Trump recently called a “very, very good person.”
And apparently Trump's stance on workplace harassment runs in the family — on Tuesday his son Eric Trump backed him up during an interview with CBS. [New York, 8/2/16]
Yahoo’s Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy: Donald And Eric Trump’s “Victim Blaming” Helps To “Further Penalize” Victims. Yahoo News contributing writer Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy explained that Donald and Eric Trump chose “to engage in victim blaming” in their answers. Uffalussy noted that victim blaming can “further penalize those victims who have already lost the ability to feel safe in their own place of employment” and called the remarks “utterly tone-deaf” and “damaging to the continued plight of women to be treated equitably in the labor market.” From the August 2 article:
Remarks like this are not only utterly tone-deaf, but downright damaging to the continued plight of women to be treated equitably in the labor market. If the men doing the hiring think a woman is to blame for her own harassment and that it’s up to her to not only prevent it from happening to begin with, but to find a safer work environment should she unduly experience something of this nature, doubly penalizes the women who are already fighting systemic cultural stereotypes that make it harder to not only get a foot in the door for employment, but to be compensated fairly for the work they do.
When men like Donald and Eric Trump — a man who seeks to hold the highest office in the land and his son, who holds [an] executive position at his father’s company — essentially choose to engage in victim blaming, they not only further penalize those victims who have already lost the ability to feel safe in their own place of employment, they seek to solidify the exemption from any responsibility when employees face workplace environments that have the potential to cause emotional, psychological, and economic harm. The buck clearly stops with anyone but them. [Yahoo, 8/2/16]
Former Fox Host Gretchen Carlson: “Sad In 2016 We’re Still Victim Blaming Women.”
Right-Wing Media Have A Long History Of Blaming Victims Of Sexual Harassment And Assault
Wash. Post's George Will: Being A Sexual Assault Victim Is A “Coveted Status.” Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will dismissed the epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses in a 2014 op-ed, implying that individuals were pretending to be victims because colleges have made victimhood a “coveted status.” From the June 7, 2014, column:
Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating.
They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. [The Washington Post, 6/7/14]
Fox's Andrea Tantaros: Women Concerned About Sexual Assault On College Campuses Can Be Either “Strong” Or “Victims.” Fox News host Andrea Tantaros suggested that women who were concerned about sexual assaults on college campuses “need to decide” whether they’re “strong” and “capable of taking care of ourselves” or “victims who need a special set of rules and regulations and protections" [Fox News, Outnumbered, 10/1/14]
Fox's Tucker Carlson: Reporting Statutory Rape Is “Whiny.” Fox host Tucker Carlson called a student who reported a statutory rape “whiny,” adding that the student “went and tattled to the police." [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/5/14]
Fox Host Dana Perino Advised Women Who Were Victims Of Violence To “Make Better Decisions.” Fox News host Dana Perino stated that “women are victims of violence all the time.” When co-host Greg Gutfeld responded that "[t]hey should have guns," Perino replied, “Or make better decisions.” [Fox News, The Five, 12/5/12]
Fox's Stacey Dash: Some Campus Sexual Assault Victims Are “Bad Girls ... Who Like To Be Naughty.” Fox contributor Stacey Dash said some women who are “bad girls … who like to be naughty, might go out and play and get hurt” at frat parties. Dash also criticized people who blame alcohol instead of those who got out to drink, adding “alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, you get yourself drunk.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/30/15]
National Review: Sexual Assaults Usually Involve “A Large Degree Of Voluntary Behavior” From Women. National Review's Heather Mac Donald claimed that sexual assault often involves “mixed signals, ambiguity, and a large degree of voluntary behavior” from victims. From the May 8, 2014 article:
But the main reason “survivors” don't demand to bring their cases to criminal court is that they know that what they have experienced is something far more complex and compromised than criminal sexual assault, almost invariably involving mixed signals, ambiguity, and a large degree of voluntary behavior on their part.
Girls often drink themselves blotto both before and during parties precisely to lower their sexual inhibitions.
The alleged campus-rape epidemic could be stopped overnight if women's advocates sent a simple message to girls: Don't get drunk and get into bed with a guy whom you barely know. Keep your clothes on and go home to your own bed at night. And most controversially: Demand that any boy court you long enough to reveal his character and his respect for yours before you even think about having sex with him. [National Review, 5/8/14, via Media Matters]
WSJ Editor: Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims Are Just As Guilty As Their Attackers. Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto wrote, “What is called the problem of ‘sexual assault’ on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike.” Taranto also claimed that if women and men are both intoxicated while having sex, “women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol” when in fact both parties are equally guilty. [Wall Street Journal, 2/10/14, via Media Matters]
Tantaros On Alleged Sexual Harassment Victims: “At What Point Do Women Need To Take Some Responsibility?” In a 2011 New York Daily News column defending then-GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain against allegations of sexual harassment, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros argued that “This scandal should have every woman asking: At what point do women need to take some responsibility?" Tantaros added, “Why have dinner and drinks with a married man in the first place? Why not meet him in his office if your purpose is strictly professional?” [New York Daily News, 11/10/11, via Media Matters]
Hannity Attacks Sexual Harassment Accuser For “Staying In The Car” After The Alleged Harassment. Fox host Sean Hannity interviewed Gloria Allred, the attorney for one of Cain's alleged sexual harassment victims. Hannity repeatedly questioned why the woman didn't immediately leave the vehicle after the alleged crime: ”Why would one -- if that happened, and it was so traumatic, and it was so bad, why would she stay in the car with him?" [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/11]
Fox's Greg Gutfeld: Many Sexual Harassment Allegations Are “Inherently Meaningless.” ” In the midst of the allegations against Cain, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said “We're beginning to understand the ubiquitousness of sexual harassment claims and how because they're happening so often and they're everywhere and many of them are inherently meaningless -- they're done to safeguard future reputation-damaging things, and you might not be guilty.” [Fox News, The Five, 11/1/11]
Fox's Brit Hume: Superiors In The Workplace Are Now “At An Equal Or Greater Disadvantage” Than Their Employees. Fox News’ Brit Hume expressed concern that "[y]ears ago, subordinate employees were at a terrible disadvantage when subjected to unwanted sexual advances by their superiors. Today, those superiors are at an equal or greater disadvantage. Not only are unwanted advances now against the law, but so is conduct that may be found to create, quote, 'an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.' " Hume went on, “The problem is that what is intimidating, hostile, or offensive to some may not be to others. Innocently intended compliments may be welcome to one person but may give offense to another.” [Fox News, Special Report, 11/1/11]