These past three essays have discussed the ongoing accusations of sexual harassment against President Donald Trump. To summarize: nineteen (19) separate women have come forward and accused the highest elected official in our land of having kissed, groped, grabbed, and spoken to them in sexually demeaning ways against their wishes. For his part, Trump has denied every single accusation, calling the women liars and even going so far as to insist he’s never met any of them.
The original question I started out with was this: 19 women accuse the President of sexual harassment, but he insists they’re all wrong: one of these is lying: who is it?
I suppose that entire premise is, at best, a rhetorical device, because unless you’ve had your spine medically altered to allow your head to reside inside your ass, you already know it’s Trump who’s lying. He lies 69% of the time, and that only takes into account his public statements. He lies about everything, including how much he lies, so what would merit this to be an exception?
I wrote in an earlier essay about moral calculuses—specifically, is receiving desired electoral outcomes a worthwhile or justifiable exchange for electing creeps like Trump? I’m no moral puritan, and rarely do I hold people to behavioral extremes I myself could not obtain. One virtue of being all too aware of my own shortcomings and failings is that I have a reasonable understanding and space for others’. I’ll even acknowledge that when I criticize conservatives for holding their noses and supporting Trump, I did the exact same thing, albeit to a far less odious degree, when I voted for Hillary Clinton last fall. But where, to acknowledge the quote from Richard Shelby above, is the tipping point?
What is the acceptable number of sexual assaults Trump can commit before his supporters abandon him? Clearly 19 is acceptable, but what about 21? 37? Would the accepted number be higher in a leader like Trump than an average guy like myself, because a leader has more stress, demands and opportunities? That is, could I sexually assault only 3 women because I work as a bartender, but the President, by virtue of his (or her) position be permitted to assault 19?
I won’t carry that thought further out of fear of sounding glib. Rest assured I’m far from it: numbers are symbolic abstractions, but people are real tangible beings, and 19 of us have all too credibly accused the current President of sexually harassing them. I encourage you to read that last sentence aloud. There’s absolutely nothing glib or funny about any of this.
Conservatives—I get it. You want certain outcomes and you’re willing to overlook certain misdeeds to get them. I’m no different than you, whether we’re talking about my political choices, my consumer choices, my eating choices, my environmental choices, etc. But to echo Senator Shelby, where’s the tipping point? Specifically, does sexual harassment rise to a different level of calculation? And if it does not—and for over 48% of Alabamans, which is roughly the same percentage of all Americans who supported Donald Trump, it clearly does not—then at what cost, to you as an individual and us as a society?
I’m going to quote one of my favorite passages of the Bible below. I’m quoting it from the KJV because I think it’s beautiful. I’m quoting it because in addition to being a beautiful passage it’s an insanely powerful and transformative way of living. I’m quoting it because on this issue St Paul was spot-on correct. And I’m quoting it because conservatives, this is your book. These are the words you claim to live by. This is the standard to which you appeal.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
— 1 Corinthians 12
I want to end by repeating something I’ve written in this space many times in the past—social reality is what we make of it. There is no law outside us that demands we have a President who acts like this. There is no rule dictating that we keep people in power who hurt and abuse others, or that we accept those who support and cover-up bad actors. We are not required to find any of this acceptable. If you’ve reached your tipping point and no longer want to be a people who live in this manner, it’s up to each of us to alter the worlds of tomorrow.
Despite the fact that politics often feel beyond our abilities to change or even impact, our leaders are only there because we put them there. If you’re not happy with this world—or, if you’re frustrated by it or ashamed by it or sickened by it—there’s plenty you can do: call your representatives, vote, get involved politically, disrupt the status quo, question your leaders, and support women in all walks of life.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a way of acting that’s very specific to these essays, you can donate to the National Sexual Violence Research Center here.