The Trump administration has been salacious from the very beginning. This “started” (as much as something that’s always existed can “begin”) when a tape surfaced of Trump talking about he can’t control himself around women and “grabs” their vaginas, it was pretty obvious that his presidency was going to be unlike anything we’d ever seen in our lifetimes. On top of 19 sexual assault allegations against him, the president often makes comments about female reporters’ looks and presents himself as a sort of playboy, and has recently been accused of paying a sex worker over a million dollars to stay quiet about an encounter he allegedly had with her while married to Melania. So, when people started to accuse Trump of sleeping with his female staffers, it wasn’t much of a surprise, but it might be best to ignore them as much as you can.
In Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, the author speculates that he is a hundred percent sure that Trump is having an affair with someone but didn’t specify who. After a close read of the book, people on social media believed it was U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, due to a line about her and Trump spending a lot of time on Air Force One together. There are also rumors that he is sleeping with communications director Hope Hicks and his advisor Kellyanne Conway.
But as much as we might disagree with Trump and the women who are complicit in letting his administration do and say awful things, these rumors are really sexist and totally miss the point when it comes to “what’s wrong with Trump.”
Haley told Politico that the rumors were “disgusting.” She added:
Remember, Haley was critical of Trump during the campaign and he attacked her on Twitter, calling her an “embarrassment.” She accepted a job in his administration, which some of us might find reprehensible, but she’s earned her place there. She added in her statement:
Assuming that she, or Hicks, whom the president reportedly called the “best piece of tail” in his White House, is having an affair with the president is really unfair. Especially when you consider that Haley herself admits to not being alone in a room with him. Friends and family members reportedly told Wolff that Hicks is being run down in the office as well, and they worry about her needing “therapy” when all of this is over. We might not like that Haley and Hicks took a job to work with him and his mostly male team, but they’re there, so it makes sense to be a little worried about what their work environment might be like.
Who knows whether Wolff’s book is accurate, but the insinuations say a lot about how we view Trump and his attitudes towards women. Forcing Haley and Hicks to defend themselves and make statements about how they definitely didn’t get their job because they slept with the president means that we’re ignoring the actual allegations of Trump harassing and assaulting women that he’s worked with professionally. The rumors of these “affairs” are likely a welcome distraction for the president’s other issues, which is the creepiest part about them.
Given the president’s statements on tape to both Billy Bush at Access Hollywood and to Howard Stern about getting away with forcing himself on women (whether it’s by touching them or kissing them, or strolling into Miss Universe locker rooms simply because he was the owner of the production), it’s clear that Trump seems to think that how he treats women is totally acceptable. Voters and journalists have let him get away with it for so long that we’re more focused on silly rumors about a woman who doesn’t even want to be alone on Air Force One with her boss than our president’s actual misogyny.
It’s so sadly predictable and shows that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to managing toxic masculinity. Instead of actually investigating the 19 sexual assault allegations against the president, holding Trump accountable for his open support for other alleged sexual predators, or demanding that the president himself address the terrible way he talks about women and treats them, we’re talking about the U.N. Ambassador sleeping with her boss. Really? This is a guy who’s called working women “dangerous,” accused Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand of “doing anything” for votes, and tells female reporters that they have pretty smiles. When he doesn’t find a woman attractive, he calls them “pigs” and “dogs.”
Again, we’re joking that the few women hired into the administration didn’t get their job based on merit and rolling our eyes about how that’s “just how he is.”
We’re strong believers in the idea that the marriages and sex lives of presidents should be private matters, as long as they’re consensual and don’t get in the way of governing the country. But Trump’s misogyny, which he has worn proudly throughout the course of his career, has made how he (and his supporters) treats women news. But instead of going low and trying to figure out what woman he’s trying to seduce in the Oval Office, maybe we should actually do something about all the other, much more serious allegations against the president.