A non-assault taught us a lot about the cynical vision of the White House of the real ones


A White House intern searches for and removes the microphone held by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta at a press conference. A few moments later, their arms came into contact. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

I do not deal with politics, or the White House, or the media. But I wrote about assaulting women, including Brett Kavanaugh's accusations, and clearly I had achieved some sort of lady referee status in the mind of a reader who sent me an email on Wednesday.

He asked to write a column "condemning" CNN correspondent Jim Acosta for "assaulting the young woman". It would have been, the reader insisted, the "equitable" thing to do.

So I did what the others were doing and filmed the Zapruder-style footage from the chaotic briefing of that day. In it, a White House staff reached Acosta's microphone. Acosta's gesturing arm came down simultaneously. Obviously this was not an assault. This was a forearm already on a descending trajectory; this was Newton's first law.

"Honestly, in your heart, do you think it was an assault?" I replied.

Since then, the White House had revoked Acosta's credentials for, like Sarah Sanders tweeted, "Putting Hands" on a "young woman who is just trying to do her job as a White House intern".

At that point, of course, it was clear that we were not talking about Acosta. We were talking about the fact that for a discouraging number of people, including the White House, the assault is just an abstract concept to be exercised strategically. As if the game was not to hope nobody abuse women, but hope that your political opponents are abusing A lot of them.

People who want to tag Wednesday's press conference as an assault are only showing how deeply they do not understand the assault. Or, less dearly, they do not believe it should be taken seriously when it happens seriously. It should only be taken seriously when it can be used to earn points.

The accusation of Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh? Apparently, it was not a terrible thing that would happen to a frightened teenage girl. what he was talking about a conspiracy designed to overthrow the president's Supreme Court candidate.

Do the dozens more women who accused President Trump of sexual misconduct? It was not a rich tycoon who supposedly treated women as toys. thoseApparently, it was a conspiracy designed to make sure that man did not become president.

Do you remember when a Breitbart journalist, Michelle Fields, was so severely grasped by campaign director Trump, Corey Lewandowski, who had bruises on her arm? I'm not sure I would classify the incident as an assault – but Trump's answer was the first to call it "rigged", and later, when the video evidence emerged, to state that Fields had grabbed he.

On Wednesday it seemed that Sanders was vaguely aware of the fact that aggression and harassment of women is currently frowned upon, and that "believing women" are in vogue, and so he created a tweet Mad Libs that evoked as many key triggers as possible. He also shared a video of the meeting that was taken care of – he accelerated to make it seem like the contact with his arm was intentional, and he eliminated Acosta's "Forgive me, madam".

Notice, in Sanders' statement, the use of "putting your hands", which implies intentional, touching the palms of your hands. Note "intern", which reinforces the idea of ​​an imbalance of power. He notes "trying to do his job", which recalls the thousands of women of the #MeToo movement who shared stories about the times when their fought careers were hampered by harassment.

Read the tweet and you may have the impression that Acosta followed a teenager with his hands tied to his ass. Watch the video though, and – well, if this is "assault", I personally attacked three people in my crowded commuter home last night.

(In all honesty, I did not even understand when some liberals blew a seal on a video clip of Kavanaugh who looked away from his wife – jostling! they shouted – so he could embrace his daughters in the oath. I know married couples who challenge each other more vigorously in an attempt to reach the microwave. Again: I have somewhat higher expectations for the White House press secretary than for random goofball on Twitter.)

Last week, conspiracy theorists Trump Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman convened a press conference, announcing that they were in contact with a woman who claimed to have been raped by special adviser Robert S. Mueller III. The defamatory work quickly crumbled into a confederation of salons: the woman did not exist. Other women came forward to say that they had offered him money to tell false stories about Mueller.

They thought that a room full of journalists and the good people of America would have taken an accusation of twisted rape for nominal value. They thought that no one would do a reverse Google image search on the false employees of the detective company, or would take the trouble to dial the phone number (which turned out to be owned by Wohl's mother). And they thought they could find women happy to ruin a man's life for a few dollars, because the charges are all part of a gotcha game, right?

All they have revealed is that journalists use standards and logic before repeating charges against men. And the supporters of the #MeToo movement fear false accusations as much as anyone, because they understand how fast progress would be wiped out even by a single high profile lie.

I wish the example of Jim Acosta was not an example of Jim Acosta – one that makes me look like I'm only interested in defending journalists or defending people who ask critical questions to the president.

Because the biggest point has nothing to do with those who wiped their arm away, and who took away whose White House has access.

The biggest point is that violence against women should not be something that comes to mind using a doctoral video. It's not something you can fire when it's uncomfortable.

Violence against women is not a timely gift for politicians. Surprisingly, violence against women is something that happens to women.

Monica Hesse is an artist who writes about gender and its impact on society. For more information visit wapo.st/hesse.


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