The #MeToo Elephant in the Room During the 2018 State of the Union

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Posted in: Criminal Law

The #MeToo movement is about the oppression of women and children by the powerful, and usually powerful men. Neither women and children nor #MeToo played any part in the 2018 State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump. I know, I know. This is not surprising, but it needs to be noticed and preserved as part of the history of this administration and era.

Sometimes it is unfair to criticize a speech for not including a topic, but when #MeToo is the issue in 2018, it is more than fair—it’s mandatory. Victims of sex abuse, assault, and harassment have been pouring into the public square since Trump was elected president. To be sure, the trend of disclosure was rolling previously, but the pace undoubtedly sped up during the Trump administration. That may have been inevitable, but it also might have been in response to his despicable character on these issues.

He’s got a sordid history with women, including over a dozen women alleging sexual misconduct, disgusting statements on tape, and the payoff of a porn star to grease his way into the White House. He’s no better on children. He actually supported alleged pedophile Roy Moore for US Senate and strolled through the dressing room for beauty pageant contestants who were as young as 15.

The Headlines the Day After the SOTU: Back to #MeToo

Mere hours after Trump ended his speech with no acknowledgment of the epidemic of sex abuse, assault, and harassment, the headlines pivoted to the sentencing of serial pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar, who was accused of sexually abusing 265 young gymnasts. This was the man who a female judge forced to listen to 156 women for days as they read often lengthy and gut-wrenching victim impact statements. Strong, successful Olympic heroes were brought to tears telling him how he had destroyed them. The country has paid attention, closely.

Nassar was a man like Trump who believed that he could indefinitely deflect questions about sex assault. So did those around him. The USOC and USA Gymnastics have done nothing for these victims except utter empty and insincere truisms. USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University bought into Nassar’s diversions for years. The result of the disclosures—which is the least that needs to be done in both institutions—has been that heads have rolled.

Think about this contrast: the president of the United States pretends to be oblivious to the #MeToo movement because he is part of it, while the justice system spotlights and sanctions a serial sex abuser who attacked Olympic idols. Those two scenarios cannot exist simultaneously for long. And there is no putting the #MeToo genie back in the bottle.

The last thing a man like Trump is going to do is to honor the brave souls bearing witness to the ugly sexual misconduct underbelly of this culture. So it’s no surprise that the widely discussed sexual degradation of women and children played no role in his State of the Union. Like Nassar, he seems to believe that if he doesn’t acknowledge a problem, those around him will forget about it.

But wait, why is it that Trump can get away with his sexual misconduct in the very middle of the public square while Nassar cannot? Why was Nassar brought to account, but Trump can get a 75% positive rating for his SOTU that ignores one of the most important movements in the country right now? The answer is always the same: the people around the bad guy continue to have his back presumably because they believe that they won’t be held accountable either. For Trump, it’s because the Republicans and evangelicals are propping him up. The Republicans supported alleged pedophile Roy Moore, and the evangelicals have given Trump a pass on paying off a porn star. They are willing to be complicit in his sexual misconduct so long as he shapes the federal government into a mirror of their faith by granting them rights to discriminate against LGBT and creating barriers to women’s reproductive healthcare. In other words, he has bought their acquiescence into his sinful and immoral behavior.

If you haven’t read Alice in Wonderland recently, pick it up again. The Republicans are now officially on the other side of the looking glass. The party that used to stand for “family values” now delivers standing ovations to the antithesis of their values. They have made a deal with the devil. Like USA Gymnastics and MSU, they will be held to account, and forced to repent for their inaction.

Trump’s silence in the face of wrongdoing will become their wrongdoing. That is the core message of the #MeToo movement, which was the elephant in the House chamber this week.

  • G.N.M.

    What about Billy Clinton? He was a sexual abuser, got disbarred, got accused numerous times of abusing females and people still love him. Ho hum, can’t talk about Clinton or his spouse who always backed his sexual misadventures. LOL.

  • Brett

    Where, Ms. Hamilton, is your disgust for a president who wasn’t alleged of abusing women, like Mr. Trump, but for whom there is solid evidence of the abuse, Bill Clinton? Where is your disgust for his wife who vilified Mr. Clinton’s victims? Where is your disgust for Ms. Clinton’s recently-surfaced protection of someone in her 2008 presidential campaign whom her campaign manager believes abused a woman? And where is your disgust for all of the liberals in Hollywood who have abused women, or for Al Franken, who abused women? To try to put all of the abuse on Republicans based on allegations when there are Democrats and liberals where there is evidence of abuse certainly misses the mark, to say the least.

  • [RJAB]

    Wow marci, this is a terrible piece. Couple examples:
    -Moore has not been found guilty
    -Trump has been more vocal than literally any other president on “acknowledging” the issue
    -Which seriously damages your (already questionable because ad-hom/conjecture etc) statements about what “a man like” Trump would or wouldn’t do.
    -Your answer to the question why trump can walk and nassar can’t is the TOTAL DIFFERENCE IN BOTH SITUATIONS.
    -Not dropping the hashtag is a very long ways away from “the antithesis of (republican) family values”.
    And i could go on and on and on, english second language speaker here but your story is too bogus even for me to swallow. Jezus fucking christ you are stupid.
    But wait! Are you really? Your totally out-of-place reference to alice in wonderland may seem like plain old poor writing-skills, but there is more than meets the eye. #metoo related in fact. Dead. Fucking. Give. Away. Alice in wonderland is pretty much the “anthem” for child-rapists, and Lewis Carrol (the gigantic, self-proclaimed pedophile) is their patron saint. But you know that don’t you Marci.

    tagged for monitoring, see you on the day of the rope.

  • Robert Imgrat

    Interesting article, although some people claim that Roy Moore is not a pedophile. Rachel Hope Cleves and Nicholas L. Syrett in their article titled ‘Roy Moore is not a pedophile’ and published in the Washington Post on November 19, 2017 supply evidence in support of their opinion. But what remains is long lasting suffering of victims in their memories.

  • Frank Willa

    Professor, thank you for pointing out this glaring omission in the State of the Union. It is the complicity of so many that allows the predators free reign. In my view, not only the Republican politicians and the Evangelicals are part of those that must be held to account; but the media, and specifically the beltway media. Nowhere did I see this omission raised as an observation on any of the talk shows after the speech. Yes, they noted the victims of crimes and misdeeds that were part of the speech; but none asked where were the victims of sexual predators. My take on this is that to make America a more perfect union the MeToo movement must be a part of public policies, and the politicians should take a leading role. It would seem that the social fabric, that is how we treat each other, is an important part of a great nation. I would concur that Trump can not play any part in leading the nation in this direction.
    As I write this I see 3 comments posted and would observe that not one of them acknowledges what Trump has done- e.g. the Access Hollywood tape, etc. and deal with that, but seek to change the subject. They fail to get that you have not held back as regards any sexual predator, as far as I have read what you have written in your commentaries. And most glaring in my view, they do not express any support or sympathy for the victims of sexual misconduct that the MeToo movement represents. My take on this is that this is the same omission the Trump made.

  • Megan Conover

    I am disappointed by the blatant political bias of this expert on child abuse, and am concerned it undermines her other important work in this area.

    I discovered Professor Hamilton’s articles about sex abuse in the Harvey Weinstein aftermath when I was sorting through my own trauma from being a victim over 30 years ago of a married older family friend who enticed me into a sexual relationship when I was a teenager. I appreciate her work on statues of limitations (although I remain barred from criminal action under old PA laws). So after watching ALL the Nassar victims’ testimony I looked for whether Professor Hamilton, the expert, would have anything to say about his case.

    Instead, I find this article where she states “Nassar was a man like Trump…” among many other conflations between the two men. Really? Nassar sexually molested over 250 girls and women and the expert compares this to Trump (even conceding all of his sexual misconduct)? She could have made the point that powerful politicians in both parties who are not held accountable are undermining real social and cultural change. Rather than having a politically neutral expert opinion, she makes assertions about what she believes Trump and Republicans think about the issue, with the typical liberal bias of assuming they are evil hypocrites.

    Not only does her political bias undermine her credibility as an expert, but it calls into question her advocacy agenda.