The story of Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's alleged physical assault of reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign event has gotten stranger and more disturbing by the day.
Despite video and eyewitness testimony to the contrary, Lewandowski, other Trump aides, and Trump himself have all furiously denied that anything happened and have attacked Fields's character. Meanwhile, Lewandowski was charged with battery Tuesday and has turned himself in to the authorities. And Trump is still standing by his campaign manager. Aggressively.
Trump's remarks to reporters on Tuesday afternoon were a 60-second master class in victim blaming, including lines like, "How do you know those bruises weren't there before?" and assurances that "no jury" would "destroy a man's life" over this.
For some victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and for people who have listened to their stories, Trump's comments were excruciating to listen to. And Fusion staff writer Kelsey McKinney perfectly summed up why:
Think just for a second about the narrative around the abuse of a woman:— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
-she didn't yell
-she made up the story
-she had bruises already
And this is for an assault on a woman that took place in public, has witnesses, and was caught on tape from a man running for president.— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
You don't understand why women don't report assault. Here's your fucking answer.— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
This isn't trump being "funny" or "maniacal" or "insane."— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
This is trump enabling, dismissing, and then covering up the abuse of women
The fact that a majority of Americans believe him over her terrifies me. But it's not surprising. Ask ANY woman who's ever reported abuse.— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
You want women to scream? Okay. Well here I am!— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) March 29, 2016
This is not okay.
This is assault.
This is open misogyny.
This is enough.
Victims are reluctant to report abuse precisely because society is so eager to blame them and deflect responsibility from their abusers — especially if their abusers are powerful men.
The incident with Fields was a physical assault — Lewandowski allegedly grabbed her arm hard enough to bruise it and almost knock her over when she tried to ask Trump a question. But the denial and deflection of blame from Trump here is indistinguishable from the kind that countless victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse experience when people are trying to discredit them.
It's also just one more symptom of a larger problem for Trump. His "open misogyny," as McKinney put it, has been a theme of the campaign since Trump started a feud with Fox News's Megyn Kelly and suggested she had been on her period while asking him tough questions at a debate.
But it's been a theme in Trump's life for a lot longer than that, Franklin Foer argues at Slate. Trump has asserted his dominance by boasting about sex since he was a teenager, and still does today. He "relishes judging women on the basis of their looks," and humiliating them by calling them ugly is "almost recreational pastime" for him. He's said so many misogynistic things in public that all one anti-Trump ad had to do was feature women repeating them.
And somehow, he keeps getting away with it.