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Eric Trump Defends Father’s Ignorant Comment on Sexual Harassment in Most Infuriating Way Possible

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In recent interviews, two of the Trump men — Donald himself, and his son Eric — each made comments regarding women and sexual harassment in the workplace that demonstrate how little they understand (or perhaps care) about the issue. Even worse, they used Ivanka Trump as an example to defend wholly anti-feminist rhetoric.

In an interview with Kirsten Powers at USA Today, when Donald Trump was asked about what he’d think if someone harassed his daughter Ivanka the way his friend Roger Ailes, former chief at Fox, has been accused of doing to female employees, Trump gave the most clueless of responses. He said, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”

No words about how gross the harassment itself is? No desired repercussions for the perpetrator of said harassment? M’kay.

According to Mediaite, in a later interview on CBS This Morning, Eric Trump defended his dad’s comment by sort-of denouncing sexual harassment saying, “Listen, we all run a company, my father runs a company, that is an absolute no-go anywhere, and that’s very much the case.” If you go over to Mediaite and watch the video of the interview, you’ll see that the middle Trump son is not really great with the whole Putting Words Into Sentences thing, so a part of the awkwardness of this can be chalked up to him just not speaking well.

But his words are “that is an absolute no-go anywhere,” and he stumbles and stutters for those words, clearly worried about answering this questions. “No-go” can mean anything. “No-go” as in that behavior is not tolerated, or just doesn’t happen. “No-go” as in “we’re not going to go there” (i.e., talk about it or address it in any way).

However, it’s the second part of his statement regarding his father’s comments about Ivanka that was even more problematic:

“Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, objected [sic] to it.”

Because she was a “strong person,” Eric said, she probably would go to human resources if it did happen. “At the same time, I don’t think she would allow herself to be subjected to that. I think that’s the point he was making and he did so well.”

Mister Trumps Plural, if you have the time to read this while going around pretending to be “regular guys,” allow me to fill you in on the main reasons why all of these comments are garbage:

  1. Sexual harassment is not something to which you “allow” or “don’t allow” yourself to be subjected (or objected…?). It’s not something that happens to a woman unless she’s “strong enough.” What you each are describing are results after-the-fact. Sure, Ivanka could quit her job and work somewhere else. Sure, she could probably stand up for herself in a “strong fashion.” Neither of those things does anything about the sexual harassment that has already taken place, and if a woman is sexually harassed, that doesn’t mean she’s not “strong.”  Your silence about and deflection from the actual act of sexual harassment and the people who perpetrate it is very telling.
  2. Not every woman is as privileged as Ivanka. Donald, when you were asked about Ivanka, it was in reference to a situation completely removed from you.  As a Presidential Candidate, you have to understand that even when you’re talking about personal stuff, it’s a window into your worldview and how you think things should be handled in general. Most women aren’t in a position to be able to quit their job without having another one lined up to fall back on. This is not a solution. But more importantly…
  3. THE ONUS SHOULD NOT BE ON WOMEN TO “DEAL WITH” HARASSMENT. No one should have to leave their job when someone else does something wrong. That just doesn’t make any sense. Basically, what you’re saying is, it’s to be expected that a man who harasses is going to keep his job, so if a woman wants to be safe, it’s she who has to move or leave? I don’t think so. It’s harassment that’s the problem, not harassment victims. Therefore, any discussion of sexual harassment needs to be focused on creating a harassment-free environment and consequences for harassers. Yes, women should report these incidents. Yes women should (if they can) stand up for themselves and not tolerate harassment. But she shouldn’t be placed in that position in the first place.

In an interview with People Magazine last month, Ivanka said, “I’m a daughter, not a clone. So of course daughters often disagree with things their fathers say. But I share my viewpoints with him privately, not publicly. I’m not the candidate.” While the decision to not participate in the public conversation on this issue is a questionable one for someone with her platform and influence (particularly one who supposedly champions #womenwhowork), here’s hoping that this is one of many topics that she talks to her father about in private.

She publicly praises her father’s “feminism,” citing the fact that he has many female executives in his companies. However, it takes more than thinking women capable of holding down a difficult job to be a feminist. Feminism is not just about #womenwhowork. It’s also about women who don’t work. It’s about women with money, and women without money. It’s about women of all races, religions, body types, and abilities. It’s about respecting all women as human beings who don’t deserve to be constantly situated at the lower end of a power dynamic (like what happens when a woman is sexually harassed) simply by virtue of their gender.

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.