How Donald Trump Uses the Female Body as a Weapon

How Donald Trump Uses the Female Body as a Weapon

Donald Trump
Acosta and the unnamed intern.
Photo: TIME/YoutubeThis week Donald Trump furthered his assault on the free press when he revoked CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials. Acosta had committed the crime of asking a question that displeased the President (it was about the Russia investigation). Trump repeatedly interrupted Acosta as he tried to speak, intoning “That’s enough, ” like a menacing father disciplining an unruly child.When Acosta disobeyed,  the White House brought out the big guns: a young, female intern in a pretty shift dress, decorative necklace, and shoulder-length blow-out, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Hope Hicks. It fell to this hapless intern to serve as the ‘muscle, ’ to physically wrest the mic away from the reporter.Acosta put the intern off gently with a “Pardon me, ma’am” (the incongruous use of ‘ma’am’ to address a twenty-something only underscored Acosta’s respectful politeness). Briefly deterred, but clearly feeling duty-bound to hover, the intern then resorted to the ignominious posture of squatting down between Acosta and the presidential podium, waiting to spring again. .

From the floor, she looked up nervously at Trump a few times, at a loss for how to handle this task that had likely not been in her job description.Let’s take a moment to contemplate that scene and its implications: A young woman now found herself reduced to squatting before two men, waiting for the right moment to rise at the behest of one and deprive the other of a microphone—that (yes, phallic) symbol of political voice, of critique, of an informed public, of the power of the fourth estate. What better tableau to illustrate this president’s degrading, silencing, instrumental view of women?I cannot help remembering a now-infamous remark Trump made in an episode of the Apprentice, when one contestant, actress Brande Roderick, admitted having begged on bended knee for some privilege on the show, he responded, “You dropped to your knees? Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” (It’s worth watching the video to see Ms. Roderick’s barely contained revulsion.)Eventually, Acosta was effectively stripped of his journalistic voice, relinquishing his symbolic instrument of power—the microphone—to the symbolic instrument of power preferred by Trump: a lovely, young, silent woman literally crouching before him. (At least Hope Hicks was permitted the privilege ....

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