To Beat Donald Trump, The Fight May Have To Beat On His Own Turf
On Sunday, the first woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault threatened to sue the Republican presidential nominee if he went after the latest group of women to also accuse him of sexual assault. Jill Harth, who filed charges against Trump in 1997, said in a letter issued by her lawyer that “If [Trump] sues me, I know that truth is an absolute defense, and I will counter sue for the emotional hurt and lost income his attacks have caused me.” While I personally believe lawsuits are a lousy way to combat sexism and sexual assault in our society at large, it’s the perfect response for a lawsuit-happy Trump.
Harth was referring to recent claims from the presidential candidate that he would go after the women who have accused him of sexual assault in court following the end of the election. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump claimed that “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” and that, “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” Trump has flat-out denied all of the accusations that have been made against him regarding his alleged inappropriate sexual behavior.
I believe that what will eventually eliminate sexism and sexual harassment will be — and to a certain extent, always has been — education. I’m not talking about school education, though schools have an important role to play, but what parents and culture more broadly teach children about men and women. Our attitudes on these matters are forged early in our youth and continue throughout our lives. (It's worth noting that, should Hillary Clinton beat Trump and become the first female president, that will have an effect on these attitudes in our children, though what that effect will be remains to be seen.) Waiting until someone’s old enough to sue is addressing the societal problem far, far too late. In this sense, I don't view lawsuits as the most effective tools for combating the denigrating and dangerous attitudes that are still entrenched in our society.
That being said, lawsuits can be great for punishing the worst perpetrators of these destructive behaviors. Moreover, while I’m skeptical that any of his threatened counter-suits will ever come to pass, the imagined scene of a civil court judge admonishing Trump, verbally and financially, for his treatment of women is a delicious one.
My personal hopes are these: Trump loses the election, and with his tail tucked between his legs, ends up not suing any of the women accusing him of assault. Thus, Harth doesn’t need to sue Trump. But I firmly believe that if there was ever a guy worthy of getting the crap knocked out of him in a lawsuit, it is the highly litigious and highly hypocritical Donald J. Trump.