Like a vampire, Trump gets stronger when you say his name. That’s why he’s been swelling visibly lately, like a moldy sponge just soaking up all that attention. I’d feel guilty about adding to the torrent of words about him, but fortunately my readership is too small to make a difference.
When I saw the poll that 70% of American women hate him, I immediately asked: what’s wrong with the other 30%? Anyway, hate is not quite the right emotion. “Hate” is what I
feel towards the jerk who looks me in the eye while the elevator door slams in my face. “Hate” is what I feel towards the career criminals who sucked a bunch of money out of my parents’ bank account. What I feel for Trump is more akin to the shock and revulsion with which I greeted, in the heart of a steamed artichoke, something YUGE, green, and boneless. The mind reels. You just don’t expect to see a steamed caterpillar that size on
your dinner plate. Did it hatch in there? I used to think they were so cute in books for kids! I had to throw everything in the trash and lie down for a bit.
But here’s the truth about Trump. He’s not unique. Trumps were a dime a dozen in corporate America for decades until lawsuits started flying around in the mid-1990s and put the fear into corporate law departments. Slowly, the tables started turning. Corporations started losing harassment lawsuits, and managers who practiced “business as usual” got the boot. As a spokesman for one of the many companies who are revoking their sponsorship for the upcoming Republican National Convention, “if any employee of a major Fortune 500 company went to work and said what Trump says, they’d be fired.”
This was a shock to the many, many Trumps of the world. Before that turning point in history, the only recourse women had was to suffer in silence, or quit your job and hope your next boss was a decent guy. I was a quitter. Here are some Trumps I’ve worked with, in the bad old days.
Irv the Perv. Irv was the editor of a magazine, and I had a job at another magazine in the same group. It was standard practice, when coming across a new employee in the
women’s room, to inquire if she knew about Irv. If not…well, a friendly warning that he would grope you in the elevator was a word to the wise. And he would, too. He didn’t grope me, but that’s because I had learned to use public shame in front of his peers to keep the lid on his bad behavior. That, and the staircase. Irv he was never fired, and I’m guessing he retired with a nice nest egg. When Trump says things like “it would be a pretty picture to see you on your knees”, well, Irv said stuff like that all the time. When he told me that I had a “lovely, lithe body. We should have lunch some time”, I told him “if you ever touch me in an elevator or anywhere else, I’ll break all your delicate little fingers.” His shocked reply? “I thought you were a nice girl!” No Irv, I was a killer. Nice girls were the ones that didn’t say anything when you groped them in an elevator.
Peter the Great. Peter was a producer, and actually a brilliant guy. For the most part, I liked and respected him. However, if things went wrong or he didn’t get his way? Move
the glassware, because it was time for a knock-down tantrum, complete with throbbing neck veins, frothing at the mouth, throwing small objects off the desk, and yelling and screaming that could be heard in offices across the land. When Trump wears his red hat and goes on a rampage, I’m not impressed. I’ve seen it all before. To Peter’s credit, he seemed a bit chastened when I quit by telling him that I didn’t expect to be treated in such a manner in an office setting, unless that office setting involved riding herd on two-year-olds. (note: I’ve heard through the grapevine that he’s mellowed over the years, and I wish him well.)
Peevish Steve. Steve was always right even when he was wrong, because he was the boss. When he fumed about the perennial mess in the supply cabinet, I suggested that maybe he should pick one person to be responsible for supplies. Steve’s response was to snarl “it’s EVERYONE’s responsibility!” I suggested that another way to say “it’s everyone’s
responsibility” is “it’s no one’s responsibility”…and that was the end of the line for me with Steve. He didn’t want suggestions, even when things weren’t working out. Like Trump, it was easier for him to rant and rave about “how stupid are [fill in name of people or group here]” than trying to make things better. When I learned everyone got a raise but me, I quit in such a spectacular way that Steve actually tried to track me to my lair on the Upper West Side. It didn’t work – my personal alarm system involving roommates and doormen alerted me to his presence, and I took a powder for a few days.
Oily Roy. Roy was the head of my group at a big bank. When my colleague, Jenna, had printed out the presentation she had written and was to present jointly with Roy at a big
conference, he snuck into her office, pulled it out of the printer, stood up in front of the room before she had figured out where things were going, and gave the presentation all by himself. During Q & A, he either made up the answers or looked at Jenna while saying “I’ll have my assistant look that up and get back to you.” Trump university? Puh-leeze. Roy’s oily fast talk makes Trump look like an amateur.
Datin’ Payton. Payton was a tenured professor at a university that my friend taught at. One day, a glum grad student came into her office to ask if she could switch her thesis topic and advisor. “Why? Professor Payton’s an expert in your topic, and you’re doing great work in it!” Well, turns out Payton was not being quite as helpful when the grad
student turned him down for dinner and an evening out. She felt bad about it, and knew it may damage her career, but she didn’t like dating married men. My friend, to her credit, promptly blew a gasket. A little digging quickly unearthed five other students in the same boat. “The man is using the graduate department as his own personal dating service. I supposed we should be grateful this is a state university and not day care,” my friend wrote in her report to Legal. Fortunately, Payton was put on a short leash and a long sabbatical.
That’s why seeing Trump rear his ugly head in the media is giving me flashbacks. Women are so over that. We’re not about to go back to those days and deal with the groping, the dating, the controlling madmen, the sleaze.
But, there is hope.
When Grace Bumbry, one of the pioneer African-American sopranos at the Met, was speaking once with a younger artist who asked, appalled, about the racial stereotypes and sexual innuendo she had endured from opera impresarios over the years. Grace replied with the combination of toughness and poise she brought to every role.
“Yes, it was horrible. But they die, dear. They die.”