Friday, February 9, 2018

The One Treasured Thing that Always Deserves the Most Honor and Protection

Let’s talk for a minute about reputations. 

Specifically the male reputation. More specifically the white male reputation. Even more specifically the wealthy white male reputation. And more specifically yet, Rob Porter’s reputation.

Because the extent to which the recently-resigned White House staff secretary's reputation is being protected and defended by two of the most powerful men on earth merits a deeper dive into how and why the wealthy white male reputation is so protected, so valued, and so coddled by our society.

Rob Porter, in case you missed it, is the White House staff secretary who was forced to resign when public allegations surfaced that he’d physically assaulted two of his ex-wives. Talking Points Memo has a good timeline of who knew what when. Porter's first wife, Colbie Holderness, had receipts in the form of photos of black eyes she said Porter gave her. 

Porter resigned, and President Trump (himself the target of multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct) deemed the resignation “very sad,” “absolutely wish[ed] him well,” and chided us that “he says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that.”

But it wasn't this run-of-the-mill, so-predictable-as-to-be-boring "innocent-until-proven-guilty-even-though-that's-actually-not-the-standard-except-in-a-criminal-trial" canard from a known sleazebag that warrants scrutiny. 

It’s Chief of Staff John Kelly’s quote. He said:
There’s no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today.
So let’s break this down.

The sad fact is that there is a place for domestic violence in our society. A big one.

In Alaska alone, a 2015 study funded by the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and conducted by the UAA Justice Center showed that a full 50% of adult women had experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both in the course of their lifetimes. 

But—as the Chief of Staff said—“every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.” By “individual” he means “man,” and by “their” he means “his,” because that’s the real source of Kelly’s grief. 

The damage to Porter's "reputation."

Not the bodies or the allegations of Porter’s ex-wives. Those are just self-serving embellishments—if not outright lies— that are causing a political and administrative headache for John Kelly. This is not the Rob Porter he knows, and therefore that Rob Porter is presumed not to exist. 

And, most importantly, we must protect and defend with all the mighty resources at our disposal Rob Porter’s precious “reputation.”

You see, in our society it’s easier and more instinctive to be horrified by the wounds inflicted on men’s “reputations” and “lost opportunities” and career potential than it is to acknowledge or seek justice for the physical and emotional wounds these same men have freely inflicted, and the opportunities and potential that they have stolen, from their victims through their own actions.

This also seems as good a time as any to point out that the only person responsible for destroying Rob Porter’s reputation is Rob Porter. 

For a group of people that's constantly touting accountability and self-sufficiency, powerful white men sure have a knack for abdicating those principles entirely when it comes to their own conduct.

Maybe if we placed less value on defending the male reputation, and more on protecting women’s bodies and contributions to society, there wouldn’t be so many men whose reputations needed defending in the first place.

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