October 28th, 2020


Trump's bad, but he's no woman-beater

Christine M. Flowers

By Christine M. Flowers

Published April 4, 2016

Itís no secret I detest Donald Trump. I donít particularly hate the man himself, because it takes too much energy and effort to become enraged at people I donít know personally and will likely never meet when there are more than enough humans in my immediate orbit who fit the bill. He isnít evil, he isnít Hitler, he isnít the Angel of Death.

The thing that repels me about Trump is the arrogance and bellicosity he inspires in his followers. Itís hardly unprecedented, given our hardscrabble political history. We lived through Adams-Jefferson, Lincoln-Douglas, Nixon-Kennedy and the violence of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. But this year has been particularly vicious, distasteful and garbage-strewn given the added narcissism fueled by social media.

It stinks.

That said, not everything bad can be laid at The Donaldís Ferragamo-clad feet. Some events have been blown out of proportion precisely because the GOP front-runner has created such a toxic environment that people jump at the opportunity to paint him and his campaign in the worst light (not that he needs any additional help).

And because heís fomented such toxicity, itís poetic justice that, when he really hasnít done anything horrible or criminal, people think he has.

Which brings me to Corey Lewandowski. Trumpís campaign director was indicted this week on misdemeanor charges of battery in Florida after he allegedly manhandled a reporter at a Trump press conference. Michelle Fields, formerly with the Breitbart organization, claimed to have been grabbed by the arm and pushed away from the candidate when she tried to ask him a question. Later that day, she tweeted photos of a bruise on her arm.

Initially, Lewandowski denied knowing Fields, much less assaulting her. The Trump campaign called her a liar. Then, video was released (by the Trump campaign) that clearly showed Lewandowski grabbing Fields and pushing her back. She didnít fall but that was only because of her great reflexes, not any chivalry from Trump.

Now, Lewandowski has lawyered up, and Trump is defending his guy. Because, you know, Trump is loyal. He also refused to apologize, which is straight from the bully playbook.

I find all of this to be distasteful. But hang on — you might be surprised where this is going.

Even though Iím disgusted with Trumpís brand of politicking, the thing that is beginning to really anger me is the attempt to frame what happened to Fields as violence against women instead of a regular, albeit unacceptable, political street brawl.

Almost immediately after Fields tweeted her bruise, commentators started conflating Trumpís established misogyny (a full-throated, old fashioned, anti-metrosexual strain) with abuse. Conservative female commentators, not the kind youíd expect to be whiners, came out with a manifesto demanding that Trump fire Lewandowski.

Now, Iím no fan of the macho swagger displayed by Trump, but I also donít like the reflexive ďwoe is me for being a womanĒ in evidence whenever a woman is not treated like a Faberge egg.

Let me be very clear: I condemn any use of violence against innocent victims, be they women, children or men. I am also acutely aware of the scourge of domestic violence both in the U.S. and in the world, having experienced it personally as well as in my immigration practice. I defend abused women against deportation. I am close to women who have been abused. I know, intimately, about broken bones and bruises.

But itís wrong to conflate what happened to Fields, something that has happened to me when trying to squeeze on a train at rush hour, with actual abuse. It politicizes a very serious subject, and trivializes it for greater entertainment value when it should be treated gingerly and with respect.

I knew the minute I saw the tweeted bruise and the fact that the alleged victim was a woman that this would last throughout several news cycles. I mean, if making gross attacks on Megyn Kellyís propensity to bleed became a weeklong headline, it was inevitable that a case of actual, physical contact between a male Trump supporter and a woman would be a cause celebre. And while Trump deserves all the criticism in the world for his buffoonery, boorishness and arrogance, it doesnít mean he should be painted as some political Bluebeard. Itís lazy opportunism and harms a worthy cause.

Itís the same thing thatís been happening with this ridiculous crusade against date rape and the so-called rape culture on campuses. To equate a bad date and mixed signals with the real violence of rape leads to cases like that of Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia, and false accusations. Itís wrong, itís dangerous, and it dishonors real victims.

Thatís why Iím angry about this attempt to frame what happened to Fields as abuse. She was pushed, she was pulled, she was probably, under the law assaulted. But she should not be an example of domestic violence or proof positive that the Trump campaign supports beating up on women.

Trump is a lot of things, but heís not Stanley Kowalski. This just doesnít pass the smell test. And thatís saying a lot, for such a foul-smelling campaign.

Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia Daily News

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Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.