New accusations from Trump accusers are coming fast now, separate accusations being published Wednesday in the Palm Beach Post and the New York Times. If not for confidentiality agreements routinely used to gag contestants and staffers, more accusations of criminal behavior would have been leveled at Trump by now, and there is still three weeks to go.
The outpouring of stories has an effect beyond the election. Women are expressing gratitude for the women coming forward because these stories are revealing deeper truths about the powerlessness women experience. The assault is momentary and in many cases women can prevent the incident from escalating. What they can’t do often is to report it, speak up about it, out the attacker. A young woman subjected to aggressive sexual behavior often is told directly that “it never happened” or that if she speaks of it, she will be punished. Her career derailed.
In anti-discrimination law, this is a hostile working environment. These claims are especially tough to make when it’s caused or endorsed by the big boss. Young women in new or first jobs are given the Hobson’s Choice of calling out a powerful man and facing retaliation and ostracism, or remaining silent, which most of the traumatized women choose to do.
Keeping silent is an extension of the feeling of powerlessness. There is no release from that feeling, so it takes hold psychically. The feeling of powerlessness becomes deeply ingrained and has a negative impact beyond the workplace.
The Trump scandals, like the Clinton scandals before them, have presented opportunities to teach boys and girls, adolescents and young adults, that predatory sexual behavior often is criminal. Its victims no longer need to be resigned to shame, silence and a feeling of being ineffectual. Boys learn that a parent, sibling, friend or lover may have been victimized and that they may have experienced life-altering consequences.