Two more women say Donald Trump sexually assaulted them: “It was very random, very nonchalant”

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

On Friday, two more women accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting them, joining a list that has grown and grown since he told Anderson Cooper that he never sexually assaulted any woman during Sunday’s debate.

Photographer Kristin Anderson claimed that, when she was a model in the early 1990s, Trump sat next to her on a red velvet couch at a Manhattan nightclub and touched her vagina through her underwear. She said that, when she turned to see who had touched her, she immediately recognized Trump because “he was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows.”

Anderson’s story was confirmed by a friend who remembered being told about it a few days after the fact and by a fellow photographer who recalled hearing the story at a dinner in March 2007.

The Trump campaign denied Anderson’s claim. In a “Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous.”

Anderson made it clear to The Washington Post that she doesn’t have any political axe to grind and supports neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton in this election. Instead she came forward after reading a recent article from The New York Times that detailed other sexual assault allegations made against Trump. “It’s a sexual assault issue, and it’s something that I’ve kept quiet on my own,” Anderson said to the paper. “And I’ve always kept quiet. And why should I keep quiet? Actually, all of the women should speak up, and if you’re touched inappropriately, tell somebody and speak up about it. Actually go to the authorities and press some charges. It’s not okay.”

Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos also came forward Friday during a press conference that was carried live by MSNBC.

Zervos recalled a torturous evening in 2007 with Mr. Trump at a Los Angeles bungalow: “He put me in an embrace and I tried to push him away. I pushed his chest to put space between us and I said, ‘Come on man, get real.’ He repeated my words back to me, ‘Get real,’ as he began thrusting his genitals.”

Donald Trump: Sexual assault allegations are part of a Mexican billionaire’s conspiracy with The New York Times

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

Donald Trump is now attacking The New York Times for covering sexual assault allegations against him by bringing up the name of the “foreigner” who “rescued” the newspaper: a Mexican billionaire.

Carlos Slim is one of the world’s richest men. Last December  he was ranked fifth on Forbes’ list. Slim became the largest single investor in the Times in January 2015, when he exercised warrants that more than doubled his stake in the publishing company.

Slim and Trump have locked horns before. When Trump launched his presidential campaign with comments that suggested undocumented Mexican immigrants are more likely to be rapists, Slim cancelled a television project that one of his companies had been working on with Trump. One of Slim’s spokespeople characterized the comments as racist, while The Washington Post thoroughly debunked Trump’s claims.

Although there is no evidence that Slim’s motives were anything other than financial, Trump has a history of bringing up the ethnic background of powerful Mexicans and Mexican-Americans whom he views as threats. In June he accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — who will preside over a fraud case against Trump University — of having an “absolute conflict” because of his “Mexican heritage.” Trump has even gotten into trouble with members of the Hispanic community when he has tried to praise them, such as his controversial tweet in May proclaiming, “I love Hispanics!” while eating a taco salad (a hybrid dish probably invented in the States).

On Friday morning, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said that there will “be more evidence” coming out which would “call into question” the allegations.

Pence: “Before the day is out there will be more evidence that calls into question these [sexual assault] allegations.”

WATCH: Mike Pence avoids 11-year-old girl’s question about body image in the age of Donald Trump by pointing to ISIS

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

When confronted with an 11-year-old girl’s question about her body image and self-esteem issues, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responded with a seemingly tangential reply about foreign policy.

During a Thursday interview, WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio, asked Pence to respond to a statement initially written by an 11-year-old girl. Citing Donald Trump’s sexist rhetoric, the girl said, “When I hear those words and look in the mirror they make me feel bad about myself.”

This was Pence’s full response:

Well, I would say to any one of my kids and any children in this country that Donald Trump and I are committed to a safer and more prosperous future for their family. The weak and feckless foreign policy that Hillary Clinton promises to continue has literally caused wider areas of the world to spin apart, the rise of terrorist threats that have inspired violence here at home, and we’ve seen an erosion of law and order in our streets. And we’ve seen opportunities and jobs evaporate and even leave Ohio and leave this country. I would say to any of our kids that if Donald Trump and I have the chance to serve in the White House, that we’re going to work every day for a stronger, safer and more prosperous America.

Trump has a long history of criticizing women based on their appearance, from referring to those he finds unattractive as “fat” and “pigs” to his notorious conversation with former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, in which he bragged about committing sexual assault. Trump has since referred to his insults based on women’s looks as “for the purpose of entertainment” and characterized his chat with Bush as “locker room talk.” He continues to struggle in gaining the support of female voters.

Donald Trump’s accusers are all coming forward with their sexual assault allegations

Published: Salon (October 13, 2016)

Even before he was caught on tape bragging that his fame allowed him to grab women “by the pussy,” a number of sexual assault and rape allegations had been made against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Here is a list of some notable women who have come forward, organized by when their allegations were made public:

Five teen beauty queens, Oct. 12-13: Five former teen beauty queens from Miss Teen USA 1997 have recalled an incident when Trump walked into their dressing room and announced, “Don’t worry ladies, I’ve seen it all before.” Mariah Billado (former Miss Vermont Teen USA) and three anonymous former pageant queens have claimed that he barged into the room where women as young as 15 were in a state of partial or complete undress. Victoria Hughes, the former Miss New Mexico Teen USA, subsequently confirmed this story after it was initially published by BuzzFeed.

Natasha Stoynoff, Oct. 12: As a reporter for People magazine in 2005, Stoynoff went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to interview him about his marriage to Melania. While there, she has alleged, Trump pushed her against a wall and forced his tongue down her throat, stopping only when they were interrupted by one of his butlers.

Jessica Leeds, Oct. 12: When she was sharing a flight with Trump in about 1980, Leeds has alleged, that Trump began groping her and tried to reach up her skirt. “His hands were everywhere,” she recalled in a subsequent interview.

Mindy McGillivray, Oct. 9: McGillivray has claimed that Trump grabbed her behindwhile she was backstage with her photographer boyfriend at a Ray Charles concert in 2003. She recalled exactly where he grabbed her (“pretty close to the center of my butt”) and that it startled her at the time.

Jill Harth, July: Harth has claimed that Trump sat next to her and ran his hands up her skirt during a business meeting in 1992. She also claimed that, the following year, Trump took her to his daughter’s bedroom, pushed her against a wall, and tried groping and kissing her. She alleged there were other incidents as well.

Cassandra Searles, June: Miss Washington 2013 wrote a Facebook post in June describing how Trump repeatedly groped her behind and invited her to his hotel room. According to her description, he treated his contestants like cattle.

Temple Taggart McDowell, May: While the Miss Teen USA contestants have not accused Trump of having unwanted physical contact with them, the same is not true for McDowell, a former Miss Utah and Miss USA contestant. She has alleged that during a rehearsal in Louisiana in 1997, he kissed her, along with several other girls, directly on the lips.

“Katie Johnson,” April: Johnson (whose real name has not been reported) has claimed that in 1994, when she was being held as a sex slave by infamous billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Trump attended a party and raped her. She was only 13 year old at the time.

Anonymous, 2010: A friend of CNN anchor Erin Burnett has alleged that Trump surprised her with an unexpected kiss in a boardroom at Trump Tower in 2010. The incident that was witnessed by another man. The woman has said that he later gave her his cell phone number and asked her to call him.

Rachel Crooks, 2005: Crooks has claimed that Trump kissed her on the lipsunsolicited when she worked as a receptionist at a real estate company in 2005. Crooks’ sister, Brianne Webb, has recalled that Cooks called her immediately after it happened and discussed how upset she was.

Ivana Trump, 1991: Perhaps Trump’s most famous accuser, ex-wife Ivana claimed during their divorce that he had raped her three years earlier while they were married. She has since claimed that she did not mean rape “in a literal or criminal sense” and that she thinks “he would make an incredible president.”

Here are all the defenses Donald Trump’s surrogates have used to explain his sexual assault claims

Published: Salon (October 13, 2016)

As more and more sexual assault allegations pile up against him, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s political team is in full damage control mode. Their approaches have been diverse, but the aim is clear: deflect attention from Trump’s allegedly sordid history.

We can start with some recent tweets by Trump himself:

The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on women. WATCH!

Why didn’t the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the “incident” in her story. Because it did not happen!

Trump has had lots of support from his surrogates and other friends:

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Thursday: After saying he was “skeptical about the timing” of the claims made against Trump and even referring to them as an “October surprise,” Scarborough elaborated, “I’m talking about the timing of all of this dropping. Talk about an October surprise. There have been 1,000 triggering events that would’ve made sense. If I had been sexually harassed by this man, the Megyn Kelly story would’ve given me and opportunity.”

Later he also said: “There have been 1,000 reports of this already. I’m just asking why all the sudden this stuff is dropping in October. Perhaps it’s all innocent. Perhaps there’s no oppo drop. Perhaps it’s not coordinated.”

Katrina Pierson, Wednesday: Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson appeared on CNN to question a claim by Jessica Leeds that Trump had lifted an armrest on a flightso he could grope her. Because the alleged incident would have occurred in the early ’80s, Pierson insisted that Trump couldn’t have moved up the armrest as Leeds claimed.

“Back then you had planes — what, a DC-9, a DC-10, an MD-80, a 707, and maybe an L-1011,” she argued. “But she said specifically that this was to New York. This is important, so we can X out the DC-10 and the L-1011. Guess what? First-class seats have fixed armrests. So what I can tell you about her story, if she was groped on a plane, it wasn’t by Donald Trump and it certainly wasn’t in first class.”

Ben Carson, Tuesday: The former Republican presidential candidate has taken perhaps the most conspiratorial line in defending Trump. “There’s an atmosphere that’s been created by The New York Times and others that says, Look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we’ll give you fame; we’ll give you whatever you need,” Carson told the assembled hosts of “Fox and Friends,” before adding, “What a bunch of crap.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold, Tuesday: During an appearance on MSNBC, Rep. Farentholddismissed Trump’s comments as “locker room talk” and added “until he does something so bad to make him worse than Hillary [Clinton], I’m still in.”

He later apologized for what some perceived as his cavalier attitude toward rape, saying, “During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor’s use of a hypothetical question. I do not and have not ever condoned rape or violence against women. That is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be.”

Kellyanne Conway, Sunday: Trump’s campaign manager has defended the Republican nominee by using the same tactic he employed repeatedly during the second debate — namely, drawing attention to the infidelity and rape allegations made against former president Bill Clinton.

“We never want to talk to the women shamed and blamed by Hillary Clinton because they had sexual contact with her husband,” Conway proclaimed to CNN host Brianna Keilar, arguing that the media has been biased by focusing so much on Trump without doing the same thing for the Clintons.

Rudy Giuliani, Sunday: “Talk and action are two different things,” insisted the former New York City mayor on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He also claimed that Trump had provided “a full and complete apology” for his remarks.

Gender stereotypes have made us horrible at recognizing autism in women and girls

Published: Quartz (October 12, 2016)

In August, the National Autistic Society called on medical professionals to change the way they diagnose women and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ever since the term autism was first coined by Hans Asperger in 1944, it has remained predominantly, if anecdotally, associated with men and boys. As a result, women with the condition may be being overlooked, even as the public becomes increasingly aware of its existence.

I know this from firsthand experience. As someone who was diagnosed with ASD as a child and has written about it extensively, the majority of other people I’ve met with official diagnoses were male like myself.

“I believe that my experiences as an autistic person has definitely been affected by my gender and race,” says Morenike Giwa Onaiwu of the Autism Women’s Network. “Many characteristics that I possess that are clearly autistic were instead attributed to my race or gender. As a result, not only was I deprived of supports that would have been helpful, I was misunderstood and also, at times, mistreated.”

It’s hard to say with certainty whether ASD has become more prevalent in recent years or if diagnoses are simply becoming more common, but either way the number of documented cases has gone way, way up. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, roughly 1 in 68 children in this country have been diagnosed with ASD; males are 4.5 more likely to be diagnosed than females. In total, approximately 3.5 million Americans are estimated to be living with some sort of ASD diagnosis.

Onaiwus’ experiences were echoed by those of several other women I spoke with as well. Whereas autistic men like myself are often identified early on, women report that their symptoms are dismissed, sometimes for many years, due to stereotypes about their gender and race.

“Social awkwardness? Of course not; apparently I’m just rude—like all the stereotypes of ‘sassy’ black women rolling their heads and necks in a circle while firing off some retort,” Onaiwu says. “Lack of eye contact? Apparently I’m a ‘shy girl’ or ‘playing hard to get’ or ‘shifty.’ Or maybe I’m just being respectful and docile because I’m African and direct eye contact might be a faux pas. Sensory overload, or maybe a meltdown? Nope, more like aggression or being a drama queen. Anything but what it really is—an Autistic person being Autistic who happens to be black and happens to be a woman.”

According to Sharon daVanport, who identifies as autistic and serves as president of Autism Women’s Network, these types of gendered expectations can be very difficult to navigate. For instance, “an eight-year old boy might have an intense interest in collecting maps,” leading his parents to worry that his desire to remain inside all the time is a signal that something might be wrong. “In contrast, a young girl who spends hours upon hours researching her intense interest will be considered quiet, polite, lady-like, and all the other gender-based labels which society assigns to girls before they’re even born,” she said.

It’s not just children who may suffer as a result of this type of ignorance. When I spoke to Kayla Schierbecker, a transgender autistic woman and college undergraduate, she explained that aspects of her personality made it more difficult for her to be accepted as a woman. This, she believes, was due in part to the way her autism presented itself. “Some of my hyper-masculine traits are going to be a barrier toward transitioning,” she says. “I have a fixation on things that are stereotypically thought of as men’s interests: technology, the military, sports.”
Carolyn Mallon is a nurse who was recently diagnosed with ASD with support from her therapist and neuropsychologis. “The symptoms, the diagnostic criteria are simply based on studies that were done on men only,” she explains, which in turn makes it more difficult for some doctors to understand the different ways ASD may present in female patients like herself.

The problem doesn’t begin and end with diagnosis. Indeed, a case could be made that autistic men benefit from gender privilege in the way that society responds to their condition.

“Some of the behaviors displayed by those on the autism spectrum scale seem to be the way many men in patriarchal societies (like ours) conduct themselves,” explains Esther Nelson, an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth College. Nelson, who believes her husband’s symptoms are consistent with an ASD diagnosis, has written about the intersection between autism and feminism, especially in terms of relationships. For example, Nelson notes that men who seem “rigid,” aggressive or lacking in empathy may not stand out in the way that women exhibiting the same behavior might. Even people who are aware of autism and are educated to some degree are more inclined to give her spouse a pass for certain negative behaviors.

Clearly, advocates for the autistic community (including myself) need to be much more cognizant of the way gender informs the experiences of our community. This needs to happen for clinical reasons, definitely—women and girls are missing out potentially years of treatment and support. At the same time, scientists are also realizing that ASD affects girls differently than boys, revealing holes in our understanding of ASD generally.

And on a more personal level, my activism on behalf of and as a part of the autistic community will never be complete if it is not intersectional. Indeed, I would say that it’s impossible to be an effective advocate for autistic individuals without incorporating a feminist perspective. When you fail to account for how gender roles shape every aspect of our social life, how can you effectively capture the experiences of women whose neurological typology impairs their social functioning?

I am reminded of the words of a woman who wrote a web comic about her experiences living with ASD. When describing how other people write about autistic individuals online, she noted that “the stories I read often describe people who cannot speak for themselves. These voiceless humans are treated as objects of inspiration and burden—objects, not people.” The process of humanizing the autistic community is difficult and ongoing, but

it must begin with a pivot away from the discussion’s male-centric focus.

“Seeing Is Believing” – An interview about women as film directors.

Published: The Good Men Project (October 11, 2016)

While Cady McClain and I first met as potential (and then actual) collaborators, I’m happy to say that I now consider her to be a good friend. With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to also say that I was genuinely thrilled to hear about the new documentary she has coming out, “Seeing Is Believer: Women Direct.”

My interview with her makes up the bulk of this article, but before we get to that I’d like to offer a few words that are entirely my own. It seems to me that we are living at a seminal moment in the history of American gender relations. The most obvious reason is the impending election of America’s first female president, Hillary Clinton, although I’d argue the unprecedented and blatant misogyny displayed by her chief opponent Donald Trump is equally momentous (albeit in a negative way). That said, we’re also seeing a cresting in Third Wave feminism, one that is drawing attention to diverse issues from rape on college campuses to the intersection of race and other social justice issues with the feminist cause. Naturally, this trickles into our entertainment and artistic cultures as well, which explains why I thought it was important to draw attention to the issues that McClain discusses below. Because it would be presumptuous to insert my own perspective excessively into an experience that is manifestly not my own, I allow her words to speak for themselves. Aside from correcting a few typos, the transcript is completely unedited.


1. What inspired you to make this documentary (in terms of your own career?)

So many moments. It’s kind of a culmination of them that all came to a head one day.

I studied directing in the early ’90’s with the artistic director of EST (Ensemble Studio Theater) in NYC. It was revelatory. I loved it so much I went to my mom and said, “Mom, I want to quit acting and direct. I really love it.” I recall the moment clearly. We were sitting on the lawn, and looking out at a little lake in the distance. She took a moment, then said, “Please don’t. I’m dying.”

Now she really had me with that one. What could I say? She was struggling with cancer, after all, and the income from my work on soaps was what was paying the bills. Still, it was crushing. I was 23 years old and had quit high school to take care of us up until then. Clearly, my life would not be my own until she passed.

After she died (I was 25) I wrote a play. I was going to co-direct it with a female friend of mine, but I got shy and decided it would seem too much to be acting, writing, directing, AND producing it. So I gave her the directing credit. She did NOT direct the piece alone, mind you. The entire concept was mine. About six months after we closed I discovered she had taken the concept and got a grant to do her version of the piece. This just crushed me. A friend, a female friend at that, had taken advantage of me in a deep and painful way. It turned me away from directing and writing for a while. A long while.

Almost 20 years later, the man who became my husband and some friends started pushing me to direct a short film I had written. The script was something that just tickled me. I wasn’t working as much as an actor and I love to make myself laugh. When I got this idea, it felt so right. So I did it. I produced and directed what was to become Flip Fantasia. I remember distinctly sitting at a cafe in SOHO after a days shoot in the streets and saying to my husband, “THIS is what I was meant to do. THIS is where my talents lie. I love this more than any other kind of work I have ever done.”

On the plane ride home, to Los Angeles, I immediately started writing another script. I drew it, actually, in storyboards. It was a short film with almost no dialogue about a man who falls in love with a balloon. We shot it three months later, back in NYC. I was thrilled and on a roll.

When I finished editing “Flip” I was told “THIS is a festival film. They are going to LOVE it!” My hopes were high. The reality was, the festivals didn’t love it. It was too long, too weird, too surreal. The one festival it played at, Macon, had the audiences roaring with laughter. THEY got it. I couldn’t figure it out. What was going on?

Billy Bush likely out at “Today”: Reports say suspension over lewd Donald Trump conversation about to be permanent

Published: Salon (October 11, 2016)

According to a new report, it seems as if Billy Bush’s suspension from “Today” is likely to be permanent. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bush and the network are negotiating his exit, which could be official as early as this week.

Bush’s ouster from the show doesn’t come as a huge shock, since there was alreadytalk of a mutiny from NBC employees outraged over how he conducted himself during a now-infamous episode on the “Access Hollywood” set. Donald Trump may have been the one bragging about sexually assaulting women on video, but Bush’s fawning admiration and frat-boy camaraderie were pretty repulsive in their own right.

Ironically, Bush had reportedly bragged about the existence of this tape to network colleagues while in Rio covering the Olympic Games this summer, even though he apparently didn’t disclose its existence when joining “Today.” An unnamed NBC insider tells Page Six this almost certainly constitutes a violation of the “morality clause” of his contract with the network, especially since Bush’s brags apparently focused on how he had caught Trump “being a real dog.” That was what prompted “Access Hollywood” to seek out the footage in the first place.

It’s often mentioned as a fun fact that Billy Bush is a cousin of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whom Trump bested in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year. While Jeb may have been humiliated by Trump at the ballot box, though, his cousin’s disgrace is far deeper. He wasn’t merely defeated by Trump; Billy Bush allowed Donald to drag him down to his level.