Attorney Gloria Allred represents latest Trump accuser, Summer Zervos [video]
Attorney Gloria Allred represents latest Trump accuser, Summer Zervos [video]
I’m about to write something that I think will be very controversial or at least be perceived as highly insensitive: Women need to do a much better job at standing up for themselves. I write this with the following disclaimer: This is my opinion only and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of my fellow Victory Girls, whose diverse and independent thinking I respect deeply. If you think I am wrong about this, I hope you will tell me why.
The last two weeks we have been treated to the dripping and oozing of the vulgar words and brazen deeds of Donald Trump, which appear to be rising to a fever pitch, as scores of women emerge to tell their own harrowing tale of sexual impropriety that happened years or decades ago. Frankly, I am not at all surprised with this new information, and while the timing of the emergence of these stories is clearly coordinated, there is probably at least a kernel of truth, if not more, in all of these instances. In other words, Trump resembles these remarks.
I haven’t delved into many of the allegations, but I did watch the statement of the latest accuser, Summer Zervos, and her attorney, Gloria Allred. The statement begins with well-known employment lawyer, Allred, summarizing Zervos’ allegation against Donald Trump. Allred has made her very visible career in representing high profile female clients in sexual harassment cases. She is also a well-known Hillary Clinton supporter, and was even a California delegate for her at the Democratic Conventions in 2008 and 2016. While Allred seems to be the go-to attorney for sexual harassment claims, it appears she only takes claims that do not conflict with her interest – that of supporting Hillary Clinton. Allred does not seem to have ever commented on Bill Clinton’s escapades, except to say that Monica wanted a relationship and he didn’t. Allred currently represents several of Bill Cosby’s accusers and led the charge against Herman Cain last election cycle.
I summarize this below, but here is Allred and Zervos’ 27 minute press conference:
In her prepared statement in the video, Allred strongly scolds Trump saying [my transcription]:
Today another woman has come forward to accuse Donald Trump of engaging in an inappropriate sexual conduct with her.… Donald Trump believes that he can do and say whatever he wants. He believes that he can go on national television and deny that he acted on his outrageous and disgusting beliefs as captured in his own words on tape…. His response that it was all locker room talk is chilling when you consider when it is coming form a man seeking the highest office in the land.… He thinks that he can say whatever he wants and then muzzle his accusers.…This is very near and dear to me as I have spent the last forty years fighting for women who allege quid pro quo harassment…. Donald, before you can become President of the United States you must first learn how to treat women with respect. Your words and your alleged actions convey the exact opposite. Your words alone as captured on tape are disgraceful and suggest a belief system that is far below the dignity of the office that you seek. The White House is not a locker room. And the American people deserve better than a president who believes he is entitled to grope and grab and sexually assault women at his pleasure. You should be ashamed of yourself. How can we hold you up as an example for our children? The office of the president of the United States is not reserved for the worst of us, someone without values, who regards women as sexual objects, who thinks that his star power gives him a license to denigrate women. Your star has been irreparably tarnished by your own words, coupled with the accusations of the many women who have made allegations against you. You think that this is all one large conspiracy. I have news for you Donald. There is no large conspiracy. It is you and you alone who have brought you to this precipice. It is you and you alone who is responsible. It is my understanding that you and your campaign may try to discredit your accusers and in essence are declaring war on women. But women will not be silenced by this tactic. Women are now empowered and they will not be bullied into silence anymore. Spare our nation from having to endure any further embarrassment. Seek help for your beliefs and alleged inappropriate sexual misconduct towards a number of women and girls, and emerge only after you do what is necessary to become a better human being, and are able to treat all of our daughters, our mothers, and our sisters with the respect with the dignity that they deserve.
My first thought upon listening to this was, “Where were you in 1998?” Just think, if prominent people like Allred had condemned Bill Clinton as strongly at the time, we could be light years ahead in dealing with this sexualized culture. Instead, people like her rallied behind their partisan colors and excused absolutely deviant and disgusting behavior by the highest elected official in the land because it happened in “private.” This lead to the whole “oral sex isn’t really sex” lowering of objective moral standards and many uncomfortable talks with our kids around the kitchen table. There can be no denying that Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and their supporters are directly responsible for the denigration of morality in America.
It’s also shocking how her words can be applied directly to Bill and Hillary Clinton:
Such strong words, if only they had been directed at Bill Clinton two decades ago, and heeded as the moral compass for this generation. If only. Then we may not have had Donald Trump. But here we are.
So while I don’t have a problem with the substance of Allred’s statement, her credibility with me is simply crap. If she can’t defend all people in similar circumstances, regardless of party affiliation, her voice is legitimately minimized. Hypocrite.
Now onto Summer Zervos. I have no reason to believe that any part of her statement is not true, or at least true to the best of her recollection. So taking as true her words, what I have a problem with is her stupidity, or, perhaps I could be nicer, her naiveté. She very tearfully tells her story of how she was harassed by Trump, with a motherly Allred at her sided, holding her hand, encouraging her to tell her harrowing tale. Ok, fine. A bit of showmanship on the part of Allred, but whatever. Here is a paraphrase of her story:
Zervos was a contestant on The Apprentice. She was fired at some point. Despite this she had the “utmost admiration” for Trump and thought of him as a “possible mentor and potential employer.” A couple of years after The Apprentice, in 2007, she was in New York for a social engagement and contacted Trump to see if he would have lunch with her. She was told he couldn’t do lunch, but she was invited to his office. When she met with him he kissed her on the lips. She says she was “surprised.” She then had a meeting in the office where he told her he had “never met anyone as smart, attractive, and with the largest set of balls” as her. He said he would “love” to have her work for him. She felt as if she was “reaching for [her] brass ring” and that her “dream of working for Trump might come true.”
At the end of the meeting he kissed her on the lips again. She says she was “nervous and embarrassed.” He then asked for her phone number. She scrawled it with a marker. She was “upset and left hurriedly.”
She then discussed the incident with her loved ones, and they all came to the conclusion that the kisses were “undoubtedly some form of greeting” and not to be alarmed. After Zervos returned to Los Angeles she got a call from Trump early in the morning. He called her his “OC angel” and wanted to know who was with her at that hour. He scolded her for her handwriting and said it was hard to read her number. At the end of the phone call he asked for her phone number again.
Days later he called to say he was coming to town. He then called again when he landed in Los Angeles. He invited her to meet him for dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Zervos went to the hotel to meet with him assuming they would have dinner at the restaurant there. She was met by his security and escorted to his bungalow where, from the foyer, she saw his clothes laying on the bed. She didn’t see him, but he greeted her with a sing-song voice, “Helloooo.” She thought he must have thought he was speaking to someone he was more familiar with. She went to the living room to wait for him. When he came out 15 minutes later he was dressed in a suit.
She stood up and he greeted her with an open mouth kiss, pulling her towards him. She walked away and sat down in a chair. He asked her to come sit by him on the loveseat. She “complied.” He grabbed her shoulder and kissed her aggressively, touching her breast. She pulled back and walked to another part of the room. He walked up to her, grabbed her hand, and led her to the bedroom. She walked out. He turned her around and said, “Let’s lay down and watch some tele-tele.” He embraced her. She pushed him away and said, “Come on man, get real.” He repeated, “Get real,” and thrust his genitals toward her, trying to kiss her again. She said, “Dude, you’re tripping right now,” “attempting to make it clear [she] wasn’t interested.” He asked, “What do you want?” She said, “I came to have dinner.” He said, “Ok, we’ll have dinner.”
At that point he became all business and talked as though she was in a job interview. Finally dinner was brought in. Trump told her to wait in the other room, she thought because he did not want the waiter to see her. They shared a club sandwich. He said he was tired and had to go to bed, but to call him the next day at his golf course.
She left and went directly to discuss the situation with her father. She decided to go to the golf course the next morning. She thought even though she had turned down his sexual advances that he still was interested in her for a job. At the golf course, she saw Trump briefly, then was taken on a tour with the general manager. She never saw Trump again. A few days later she was offered a job at half of what she wanted. She called Trump to say she was disappointed and thought she was being penalized because she wouldn’t sleep with him. He said he was golfing and couldn’t talk about it right now.
In another phone call she expressed to Trump how she still wanted a job in the Trump organization. Trump told her to send him a letter detailing which jobs she thought she would be good for. He later claimed he did not receive the letter and told her not to call him on his private number anymore. At this point she was disappointed but “harbored no ill will.”
When Zervos saw Trump running for president she sent an email to his assistant asking that it be forwarded to Trump. In the email she said that “his interest in her meant the world” but that his interest “in anything more blew [her] mind” and she “lost her footing.” She asked for an apology. She was “incredibly hurt” but that she hoped to hear from him and wished him “continued success.” For some reason she thought Trump would be embarrassed by his behavior and that this would “provide him the opportunity to clear the air.” She did not receive a reply.
Now, where to start with this? I want to repeat that I do not dispute any part of this story, but I have no idea if it is true or not. I’ll assume it is true. But this story, as is, is close to ridiculous. It doesn’t start out that way, but at one point it sounds like a rejected script from Days of Our Lives. And here is where my insensitivity starts.
It’s all well and fine for Zervos to seek a meeting with Trump in New York. She speaks of him in glowing terms and I believe she was enthralled with the idea of working for Trump. A little bit star-struck, but normal. However, the first kiss on the lips made her uncomfortable, and the second kiss on the lips made her more uncomfortable. If not after the first kiss, then certainly after the second, she needed to trust her instincts and mark this guy down as a lech. She talked herself out of it and her loved ones helped her justify that tamping down of her own gut feeling.
The problem is that once you deny your own self, your instinct, your own protective mechanisms, the rest easily follows. And so we have the continued meetings and advances in Los Angeles. I will even give her some slack on going to a second meeting for dinner at the hotel, even though there were plenty of signs that he was interested in more than work (the multiple phone calls from his private number – one at an odd time of day, asking if she was with anyone, giving her a pet name). Then the meeting was for dinner, another potentially dangerous time of day for business meetings. She didn’t stay in a public place, but went to his private room. Still more signs that he wanted more. Once she walked into that suite she had to have known this was not a business meeting, this was a date! But she somehow denied it to herself again. She continued to deny it on four or five separate advances, each more invasive than the last. And still she did not walk out, she hedged around, telling him “you’re tripping.” She does not claim that he held her there against her will. But something kept her from walking out. She denied what was seeing right before her eyes. She denied her own experience as she was experiencing it.
Even after this, she continued contact with Trump – with the support of her confidants! This is really surprising to me, that even her own father apparently didn’t advise against going to see Trump again (it’s unclear what he said but if he did advise against it, she didn’t listen to him). At this point, I just cannot continue to sympathize with her. Why, after a night like that, would she continue to seek a job from this man? It wasn’t like she already had a job with him and would lose it if she denied him access. No, she tried to meet with him again at the golf course, was upset that the job he did offer her didn’t pay what she wanted, and then continued to send him glowing correspondence about how great he was.
Ladies, this is the kind of story that makes us all look bad. We go around collectively telling men to treat us nice, but we don’t even do that for ourselves. Do we just let them do whatever they want, offer no real objection at the time, continue to contact them, and then call them on it after the fact at some other opportune time? What should a man expect when he kisses you on the lips without objection, and then you agree to meet with him for dinner, and you come to his room, and you stay with him in the room after multiple separate attempts on his part to feel you up? Then you meet with him again the next day? Then you send him a glowing letter? I mean, really. This is exactly what Trump means when he says he can get away with this, that if you’re rich they let you do anything. It’s almost as if she kept coming back for more and I can’t say I understand that at all. Every time you return of your own volition you validate and dismiss their prior bad behavior. And make no mistake, I am sure the job offer was complete CYA: she can’t claim he denied employment, but it was obviously something she wasn’t going to accept. He effectively got her out of his hair without any real proof of him offering quid pro quo. But that’s how he operates. You forget, he knows law better than anyone.
(As an aside, if she had brought a case against him, she would absolutely have lost. Her repeated voluntary reentry into the situation undermines claims of sexual harassment and she would not have been able to recover under the law, in my humble opinion. She may have forced a small settlement, but nothing more.)
I have no doubt that Trump has probably used these tactics (and tic tacs) on many women. And probably many women have gotten a little something in return. Do women have a right to be free from this boorish behavior? Yes, of course! But please stop enabling it by pussy-footing around, or worse doubting yourself. It makes it look like women ARE trying to use their feminine wiles in order to get what they want. If you don’t want to play that game, recognize it and address it head on, or get the hell out of the situation.
This particular incident could have, and in my opinion should have, ended after the time in New York. After that first kiss-kiss meeting she should have said sayonara. For whatever reason, naiveté or ambition, Zervos pressed on. Let me say again, women SHOULD expect to be able to have a professional meeting with a man without being subjected to unwanted advances. But we also cannot ignore that some men may not abide by these same expectations (or that sometimes women are open to the advances). We do not live in a sterile society; it is flush with talk of threesomes, swinging, bisexuality, double entendre, gender fluidity, viagra, anal sex, birth control and abortion on demand to enable freedom from our sexual decisions, the size of one’s hands, bondage, Fifty Shades of Gray, Ashley Madison, and Beyonce’s booty. Accepting an invitation to dinner still means something different to a lot of people, male and female, than accepting an invitation to lunch. Maybe we’d like that to change, but do not be fooled that everyone thinks that way (or even that we need to stop thinking that way).
I don’t know if Zervos thought she could navigate the obvious minefield of piggish behavior or she honestly believed he had no ulterior motives, but she does herself no favors by appearing so unworldly asking for a job under these circumstances from a person who exhibited such unacceptable behavior towards her. It’s really disappointing to hear that in this day and age women aren’t standing up for themselves, and more troubling, recognizing when they need to. We cannot rely on others to stand down, so we MUST stand up.
Let me diverge for just a second. Over the summer I watched the Olympics. A commercial came on with little girls talking the “empowerment” talk and how we shouldn’t let anybody tell us what we can’t do. It was a feminine products commercial, of course. I took issue with it wondering who is telling little girls they can’t do what they want to do? Why are we still talking about this in 2016 when we are watching American women athletes dominate? I think it was the night Katie Ledecky absolutely destroyed the competition. That message was never ingrained in me, and I didn’t have a rosey, positivity-drenched childhood. Did I just innately know I could do whatever I wanted? Was I special? I don’t know.
After the last few days of hearing so many women come forward with these allegations, I have to rethink my original assessment of the effectiveness of feminine products commercials’ messages of girl power. They are not working. Apparently one man can systematically shutdown the voices of many women without a peep from them. I do not excuse Donald Trump in the least, but ladies, I expect better from you too. You cannot sit around and wallow in victimhood. We have been at this sexual harassment thing since before Gloria Allred first popped onto your television screen in 1979 aside famous kidnap victim, Patty Hearst. (Yeah, that’s not weird.)
This is the mythical land that the Left sells to people. “We are going to make these laws and we are going to make people treat you properly.” But they keep forgetting the part about standing up for yourself. Don’t constantly look to others to do it for you. You have to be your own best friend, your own zealous advocate. You cannot be made to feel inferior without your consent. I got that from Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman who died more than fifty years ago.
None of my commentary excuses the actions of Donald Trump for any of the advances. Not the first one, not the last one, not the ones in between. Do not mistake what I am saying. But if we just continue to try to make others change their behavior, expecting that to be our sole source of protection, I don’t see women actually empowering themselves in the least. That’s still looking to others to provide for us. That is not independence.
Shame on anyone who will look to twist my words into condemnation of women and specifically of Summer Zervos. I do not wish to add to her humiliation, but only wish to say that continued subjugation through our own volition must stop. Let her story be a lesson for all of us in how to recognize power plays and anticipate appropriate reactions to vulgar advances. Do not excuse demeaning behavior, and use more effective tactics than wishing it didn’t happen to stop it.
Ladies, you’ve got to learn to trust your own judgment. Leave a situation when it doesn’t feel right. Don’t return to the situation. Take legal action, or other action, when appropriate. Don’t be embarrassed by what other people do to you. Don’t be ashamed to go with your gut. These are the messages that Tampax needs to start including on the plastic wrappers of tampons, not coupons for Ben and Jerry’s (not sure that ever happened, but there was a joke about it).
I’m sorry for any insensitivity I may have exhibited on this topic. I AM on your side ladies. We ARE on the same team. I DO want you to feel empowered. I BELIEVE that no one can do that for you, except for you. Let’s roll.