Remember when some pundits were singing the praises of John Kelly? They praised his work at the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part.
They said he would bring the needed discipline and order to the White House. Most importantly, he would reign Trump and his white nationalist alliance in.
Granted, Kelly supporters can point to the ousting of Steve Bannon. Overall, Kelly’s history as Secretary of DHS and his history as Chief of Staff point to a man who is misogynistic and racist. Whoever Kelly was when he was in the military; he is an answer to the prayers of abusive men.
Kelly gave men who abuse undocumented immigrant women with an important power. Should the woman dare to report the man to police, or show up to testify against him in court, a phone call to ICE will silence her.
In March of 2017, P.R. Lockhard of Mother Jones observed that memos issued by John Kelly in February of 2017 said, “the Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
Lockhard went on to write, The Tahirih Justice Center, which serves immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence said, “Kelly’s directives appeared to rescind an ICE guidance issued in 2011 that protected immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes.”
The predictable result was a dramatic decline of “sacred” Hispanic women reporting domestic abuse.
How many chances does Kelly get before we admit that whoever he was in the military, the man who is Trump’s chief of staff exhibits all the ideological traits that Trump has? He used racism and lies to attack Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. When the lies were exposed, Kelly refused to apologize http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-john-kelly-frederica-wilson-false-attacks-20171030-story.html to Wilson who is both a woman and a person of color. In other words, Kelly’s misogyny and his racism were on full display.
We saw his racism again with the “dreamers are lazy” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/kelly-s-lazy-dreamer-comment-racist-obscures-truth-daca-numbers-n845746 comment.
As the Chief of Staff, there is no escaping the fact that Kelly believes in misogyny and he is nurturing it in the White House.
Kelly knew about Rob Porter’s history of violence toward women and defended him when the story first broke. In a statement, Kelly described Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
This is the same Kelly who once reminisced about a time when women are “sacred.” You know, back in the days when women were subservient and suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse in silence.
The extent to which Kelly nurtures misogyny in the White House is undeniable because he knew Porter’s history of beating up the women in his life. Despite the fact that Porter’s history of violence precluded him from getting the security clearance needed to do his job, Kelly kept him in that position. Combine that with his defense of Porter after his history was reported by the media and Kelly’s own misogyny is undeniable.
Then there’s the humiliation that comes with being a woman working in that environment. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ defense of Trump, of Kelly and now Porter is as reflective of the misogyny that Kelly nurtures. The fact that Huckabee Sanders argued deference to Kelly following his attack of Congresswoman Wilson is reflective of the misogynistic work environment Kelly is nurturing.
Then there’s the sexist White House dress code.
Back in February 2017, Katherine Krueger of Splinter wrote: “Appearances (and traditional gender roles) apparently matter very much to the spray-tanned, wispy-haired man that our country elected president, enough so that he reportedly expects women White House staffers “to dress like women,” goddammit!”
That would have been a big deal pre-Trump. But in a period where we are overwhelmed with authoritarian rhetoric and policies, a story about a White House where “traditional gender roles” including a sexist dress code, matter is going to be much lower on the list of priorities.
But when combined with the fact that this is a White House that has consistently defended the violent men in prominent positions, like Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon and now Rob Porter, it’s pretty obvious that a culture of misogyny is deeply entrenched – and nurtured by the Chief of Staff.
Add to this the fact that Hope Hicks is dating Porter – and she helped write the initial response to the story of Porter’s history as a domestic abuser. Arguably, having a role in writing the denial is part of Hicks’ job. This coincides with a culture of “traditional gender roles” where women who are abused are silent and are called upon to defend abusive men. Hicks has been with Trump since the beginning of his campaign. Between then and now she dated two men on Trump’s staff. Both men were reportedly violent toward women.
Every woman in the White House works in this environment every day.
No doubt, it is tempting to suggest they deserve it. After all, they are adults who chose freely to support a sexual predator when he ran for office. They stuck with him when the Access Hollywood video went public. They continued to defend him when the Stormy Daniels story broke. They defended the abusers he had on staff.
The fact remains, every woman has a right to live and work free of fear from violence by men in positions of power. The women’s political beliefs or if she believes she doesn’t deserve to be treated with respect do not change that fact. That remains true whether the abuser’s power is financial, political or if the extent of the power is to have the woman reported to the ICE that Kelly created.
Kelly is nurturing misogyny as he did when he was Secretary of DHS. He is unfit to be the Chief of Staff in any White House.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.