By Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, with Helen A. Berger, PhD, resident scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and author of A Community of Witches.
No nostalgia for us for the Mad Men workplace -- it wasn't nice and it wasn't pretty. We lived it and we know. Recently, the New York Times ran a front-page story about Trump's complicated relationship with women he worked with in both real estate and the beauty pageant business. Much of the behavior reported in that article reminds us of the bad old days -- at least for a woman, when her boss could comment on her looks, touch her inappropriately, and create a very sexualized work environment.
The article praises Trump for at least promoting women, even against his father's wishes. Sure, he promoted women: he thought they were good workers. The unasked question is, did he pay them as much as he would've had to pay a man for the same quality work? Or, was this simply yet another one of his good deals. You know, the kind where he wins and someone else pays the cost.
Republican national committee head, Reince Priebus, repeatedly wavering in his estimation of Trump's character, called the stories ''planted'' and suggested that critics are unfit to judge the presumptive GOP nominee.
''As Christians, judging each other, I think, is problematic,'' he said on ABC's This Week."It's when people live in glass houses and throw stones that people get in trouble. ... It's not necessarily that people make mistakes or have regrets or seek forgiveness. It's whether or not the person launching the charge is authentic in their own life and can actually be pure enough to make such a charge.''
So does Priebus, or the rest of us, think that Trump is "pure enough" to throw stones? Because that is what he is doing to Hillary, for something that her husband did in the 1990s. Trump himself, when called on his behavior in the 1990s, said it was too long ago to be of importance. How is it that he gets away with this? Why is he comfortable with the double standard? And why do we let him get away with it?
More importantly, why are we so willing to permit women blaming. Donald Trump wants to frame Hillary Clinton as an enabler -- the person responsible for what her husband did. It's an interesting strategy, particularly by a man who dated his second wife while still married to his first, and has been quite open about the sheer number of women he has slept with. Why should Hillary be called into account for what her husband did, particularly by a man who not only had affairs, but was -- if these reports are correct -- sexually inappropriate? When does the psychology of enabling become a tool to move the responsibility from the perpetrator to other women in his life?
Teflon Trump will probably get away with this, after all he's feeling lots of people's sexual fantasies. And sex sells. And his promise to 'Make America Great Again' is an implied promise to return us to the 1950s, the Mad Men era, when economic distribution was less skewed toward the top 1% , but which wasn't so great for minorities or women. Nothing Trump tells us he is going to do will reinstate the relative well-being for the American working class -- particularly white working class -- of the post WWII era but he is clearly signaling that he will return us to an era of secretaries with little hope for promotion unless they put up with their boss's sexual aggressions.
If nothing else, Trump is a great salesman. He is also very good at deflecting our attention from what he is doing, has done, or doesn't know. Instead of talking policy he talks dirt. We saw in the GOP primary that he dragged his opponents into the gutter with him. They began talking penis size instead of policy. Is the presidential election really about selling sex or is it about governing the country and our place in the world? Only we can decide if we will continue to be seduced by Trump's latest escapades. Let's demand real analysis in our news broadcasts.