Arizona congressman to resign after discussing child surrogacy with female staffers

Republican Trent Franks says he deeply regrets that workplace debate caused distress as Congress grapples with sex misconduct allegations

The Arizona congressman Trent Franks has announced he will resign from Congress at the end of January after discussing child surrogacy with female staff members.

” I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry considering my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, building each feeling uncomfortable ,” Franks said in a statement on Thursday.” I deeply regret that my discussion of this alternative and process in the workplace caused distress .”

However, the Arizona Republican insisted,” I want to make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced or had, or attempted to have, any sex linked with any member of my congressional personnel .”

Franks, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus and a staunch social conservative, said he would step down on 31 January 2018. Roll Call first reported the story.

Franks’ departure comes amid widening allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in politics and increased scrutiny over how such asserts are managed on Capitol hill.

Just hours before Franks’ proclamation, the Minnesota senator Al Franken, a Democrat, said he would resign in the coming weeks after females accused him of sexual harassment. It also came days after the departure of the Democratic congressman John Conyers, the longest-serving African American member in House history, who is facing the allegations that he made recurred unwanted sexual advances toward female staffers.

Franks, who represents a deeply conservative district and is known in Washington as an anti-abortion crusader who often cites scripture, could be seen on the House floor on Thursday huddling with his fellow Arizona Republicans David Schweikert and Andy Biggs, just after the story broke. As he walked off the floor, Franks declined to confirm to reporters that he wants to resign.

” I’ll let the statement speak for itself ,” he said, in a rush to the elevator banks.

In his lengthy written statement, Franks said he took “full responsibility” for the way he” broached the topic, which unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain people uncomfortable “.

He also shared details about the difficulties he and his wife had had conceiving a child, including three miscarriages and two failed attempts to adopt a child before a” wonderful and loving lady” acted as a gestational surrogate for their twins. He said the process was a” pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos “.

Franks said the couple continued to look for surrogates to give their twins another sibling.

The statement ending by saying, in part:” In the midst of this current cultural and media climate I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would set me, my family and my staff and my noble colleagues in the House of Representative through hyperbolized public excoriation .”

” It is with great sadness that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the combat I have spent over three decades fighting ,” Franks added.” I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have built .”

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, said in a statement that on 29 November he had been” briefed on believable claims of misconduct by Rep. Trent Franks” that he found” serious and requiring action “. He also said that Franks, when will come forward with the accusations, did not deny them and that Ryan told him he should resign.

In background further provided by Ryan’s office, it was disclosed that an investigation was opened two weeks ago when the speaker’s general counsel was given” information about troubling behaviour by Rep. Trent Franks directed at a former staffer “.

The Arizona Republic reported that last week the congressman declined to respond to a request by the paper about whether he was aware of any legal settlements” to resolve claims against him involving sexual harassment or creating a hostile workplace for women “.

In light of the allegations in Congress, a group of lawmakers led by a alliance of bipartisan females are pushing for stricter standards for reporting sexual assault and would reform the rules around resolving harassment claims. Currently, accusations of sexual harassment in Congress are overseen by the little-known Office of Compliance, which over two decades employed approximately $17 m in taxpayer dollars to pay out settlements and awardings to federal employees.

Last week, an ethics panel in the House of Representatives demanded records of all settlements for sexual harassment attained in the lower chamber of Congress.

It was revealed that Conyers was among those who utilized the fund to softly settle a claim for $27,000 with a former staffer who said she was fired for refusing to give in to his recurred sexual advancements. It was afterward unearthed that the Texas Republican Blake Farenthold determined a 2014 sexual harassment grievance with a former female aide for $84,000. Both humen deny the allegations. The House ethics committee also announced Thursday night that it was launching an investigation into the claims against Farenthold.

The rapid succession of resignations this week is an indicator of how politically toxic the issue has become since the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct.

Such articles was revised on 7 December 2017. An earlier version said Trent Franks asked female staff members to act as surrogate moms. This has been changed to say that Franks discussed surrogacy with his staff member.

‘Enough is enough’: leading Democrats call on Al Franken to quit

Minnesota senator, 66, recommended by several female my fellow members to resign as allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior mount

Half a dozen female Democratic senators have called on Al Franken to resign, as other women stepped forward to accuse the Minnesota Democrat of sexually inappropriate behavior. They were joined by the minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the national party chair, Tom Perez, who also called on Franken to step down.

Franken’s office said he would make a public statement- expected to include a response to the calls- on Thursday. One Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, said he expected Franken to” announce his resignation tomorrow “.

In Facebook posts, tweets and public statement, several Democrats advised their colleague to step aside amid widening accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against powerful humen that have roiled Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington.

” I have spent a lot of day reflecting on Senator Franken’s behaviour ,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault, said in a Facebook post that started the cascade of calls.” Enough is enough .”

Gillibrand was joined by Patty Murray of Washington, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Those calls were swiftly echoed by other colleagues, including Dick Durbin, the No 2 Democrat in the Senate, as well as Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, also called on Franken to resign.

” Everybody has to share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party ,” Perez said.

Perez’s remarks came less than 36 hours after the Republican National Committee renewed its support for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate who is facing multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls and women, including sexual assault.

While many national Republican have distanced themselves from the Alabama Republican, he has approved by Donald Trump. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has called on Moore to drop out, has said the Alabama Republican would face an ethics investigation if elected.

McConnell issued a statement calling for Franken to step down:” The near daily barrage of allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Franken are extremely concerning to all of us in the Senate. While the Senate ethics committee is reviewing these serious allegations, it now appears that Senator Franken has lost the support of his colleagues, and most importantly, his constituents. I do not believe he can effectively serve the person or persons of Minnesota in the US Senate any longer .”

Hours afterward, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, weighed in to say he too believed Franken should resign. In a brief statement, Schumer said:” I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately .”

Franken, 66, who has been accused by multiple other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, has apologized for his behaviour and asked the Senate ethics committee to analyse himbut the senators said elected official must be held to a higher standard, putting his political future in question. Franken did not appear in the Senate on Monday.

” This institution has evolved over centuries, it’s evolved over my virtually three decades of service, and it’s evolving once more before our very eyes ,” said Murray, a member of Democratic leadership.

” This current evolution is long overdue. It’s time for us as elected representatives to hold ourselves to a higher criterion, to define two examples, and to live a situated of values that is truly representative and worthy of the Congress, our republic, and our great country .”

Hirono tweeted:” Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve fought with this decision because he’s been a good senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behaviour and his mistreatment of women .”

Harris posted:” Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down .”

Earlier on Tuesday, Politico reported on a new accusation against Franken. A former Democratic congressional aide said the former comedian tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, as he was ramping up his campaign for the US Senate, according to Politico. The aide dodged his advance and alleged that Franken said as she left:” It’s my right as an entertainer .” Franken denied the accusation to Politico.

The calls for Franken to resign come one day after John Conyers, the longest-serving Democrat in Congress, resigned after allegations of sexual harassment. Conyers, who was the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee and spend over a half-century on Capitol Hill, had settled one claim of sexual harassment against him with taxpayer money and had been accused of misconduct by several other former staffers.

Two other members of Congress currently face allegations of sexual harassment: Republican Blake Farenthold of Texas and Democrat Ruben Kihuen of Nevada.

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Trump too busy and important to face defamation lawsuit, president’s lawyers claim

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, is suing Trump for libel after he accused her of lying about sexual harassment in 2007

Can you sue the president? The finer phases of this question were subject to much legal sparring on Tuesday when a lawyer for Donald Trump argued for the dismissal of a lawsuit that threatens to reignite one of dozens of accusations of sexual assault facing the president.

The lawsuit was brought by a former contestant on The Apprentice, Summer Zervos, who claims Trump kissed her and groped her breast during a 2007 meeting to discuss business opportunities at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Trump thunderously denied her accusations, along with those of other women he called politically motivated liars. Zervos is suing Trump for defamation.

Or instead, she’s trying. In a hearing before a New York judge, Jennifer Schechter, to determine the case’s future, Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz argued that Zervos shouldn’t be allowed to proceed with her suit.

Trump’s refusals were political speech, he said, protected from legal action, and a suit would prevent the president, who holds a singular office, from perform such job.

” The chairman is the person who runs the executive branch ,” Kasowitz said.” He needs to be available 24/7.”

The potential impact of Zervos’s lawsuit, if she is allowed to proceed, is immeasurable. It would almost certainly link Trump’s name more permanently to the scores of powerful humen lately accused of sexual misconduct.

There is a chance Trump could be compelled to testify, something that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings when he was revealed to have lied under oath.

Her lawsuit could also expose Trump, who faced approximately 75 lawsuits where reference is assumed the presidency, to a inundation of litigation.

For political commentators, the case brings a wave of deja vu. In 1997, the US supreme court ruled a chairwoman could be sued for private conduct that took place before he assumed office. The lawsuit in question was brought against Clinton by Paula Jones, on claims that he sexually harassed her.

But lawyers for Trump have said the supreme court ruling does not apply to New York nation law.

On Tuesday, a member of Zervos’s legal team, Mariann Meier Wang, called those arguments” creative debates out of a footnote in Clinton v Jones “.

” What better court to hear a libel claim against a born and bred New Yorker who built many of his libelous statements simply up in Midtown ?” she asked.” We do not dispute the fact that the president holds a singular office, but the individual who holds that office is not above the law .”

Zervos accused Trump of assault in October 2016 at the law offices of the women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who is also representing her in her suit. She said Trump, during their 2007 encounter, greeted her for a session to discuss job opportunities with an open-mouthed kiss, then attempted to steer her toward the bedroom of the bungalow where they met.

” Let’s lay down and watch some telly-telly ,” she claimed he said. When she replied,” C’mon man, get real ,” he recurred after her-” Get real”- and thrust his genitals at her.

On the campaign trail, Trump called her accusations and others’ “phoney”, ” 100% false” and” outright lies” induced for political or monetary gain.

Schechter did not immediately rule on whether the case could proceed. And there were signs that she would weigh not only the specifics of existing case law, but also the unprecedented nature of the Trump presidency in building the call.

Can Trump be held liable for a retweet? the magistrate asked. Yes, said Wang, if it constituted a” substantive addition to the commentary “.

At one point, Schechter asked what would happen if the president simply refused to follow one of her orders. Wang said she didn’t think that would be a problem.

Schecter seemed sympathetic to debates that Trump is, in contrast to what his lawyers have said , not incapable of participating in a lawsuit while doing their exercise of his office. If the lawyers’ assert is the truth, she said during Wang’s arguments, Congress would have changed the law after Jones sued Clinton.

But in his rebuttal, Kasowitz was contended that Trump’s harshest statements about his accusers- such as saying they were “liars” motivated by money- weren’t specific to Zervos herself but to” generalized, broad and vague charges “.

He added that speech made in the commotion of a political campaign, at rallies and in press releases was ” protected political speech “.

” Although events happened almost a decade ago,[ Zervos] insured fit, three weeks before the election, to come forward and build claims about the president that the president denied, but to construct claims that would be damaging to the election the president participate on at that time ,” Kasowitz said.” She started a back-and-forth ,” he said.” That’s politics .”

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What happened when I discovered my brother was a sexual predator

Unravelling the central mystery of my childhood teach me the uncomfortable truth about toxic male behaviour and what I, as a human, must do about it

I’ve fallen out of touch with a lot of childhood friends, but how it happened with my Christie was different- more sudden, and at the time, inexplicable.

Christie was my best friend. Her mom, Suzanne, was my mother’s best friend since high school. In adulthood, they would get together for coffee once a week. I can still remember the times I spent listening to both of them hold forth on politics and relationships at the kitchen table while Christie and I would play hide and seek.

But one day, Suzanne stopped returning my mother’s calls. Christie stopped coming over too.

My mom fought with depression and it was a hard blow for her. I was always protective of her growing up, and I remember feeling angry, blindsided and hurt. Christie was my best friend, after all.

After a long decline from early-onset dementia, my mother succumbed two years ago. She and Suzanne had never reconciled.

A year later, my half-brother Todd died at the age of 52 from a heroin overdose.

When I was in town for Todd’s funeral, Christie got in touch and soon afterward, her mother invited me over for dinner. And over glasses of beer and wine, Suzanne told me a series of painful truths that helped unravel one of the central mysteries of my childhood.

In the same conversation, I learned that my brother was a sex predator, and that my mother was a rape victim.

Suzanne told me that Todd and a group of his friends had sexually assaulted Christie’s half-sister, Denise, in our home. Denise would have been about 11 at the time.

Suzanne couldn’t bring herself to tell my mom because my mom was ” fragile”, dealing with continuous conflict between my father and my two half-brothers, and had herself been raped as a teen by an ex-boyfriend.

Not knowing “what were doing”, she decided to cut ties and stopped talking to my mother. Christie, meanwhile, said she felt pressured at the time into not talking to me.

After our dialogue, I felt numb for days. I pushed it to the back of my intellect and did nothing for months. But then the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke out.

It inspired me to asked myself some hard questions. There have been women in my life I could have treated better, and missed occasions where I could have stepped up to the plate to be a better man.

Then I thought about my mother, who started a feminist book club when I was a child; women’s rights were important to her. What Suzanne had told me- that my mom had been raped, and that her mothers refused to believe her or act on it- constructed sense to me, and I was able to confirm parts of it by talking to her sisters. What could I, as a man, do to seek a small amount of justice for the women in my life?

Ultimately, it was a tweet from @sansdn, a feminist Twitter user in Sydney, Australia, that spurred me to action.

San (@ sansdn)

It’s easy as hell to call people like Trump and Weinstein monsters. It’s not easy, however, to critique the men in your lives the same way.

October 16, 2017

I decided to do only that.

* * *

First, I spoke to a few of Todd’s friends. I didn’t tell them about Denise’s story, but would like to know whether they could share anything about Todd’s relationship with women when he was young.

One friend jokingly told a story about how his girlfriend woke one morning after a party to find Todd on top of her, and that “hes to” pull Todd off her.” Man, Todd could be crazy !” he said, guessing I’d laugh with him.

I didn’t.

In his book The Macho Paradox, Jackson Katz highlights the fact that sexual assault is a men’s issue. Men commit the vast majority of rapes, and men have a special responsibility to hold both themselves and other humen accountable for how they treat women and girls.

” Men have to think about what role they play, and how they can use whatever platform of influence they have to make it unacceptable for men to act out in sexist and harmful ways ,” Katz told me.” Not because they are nice guys, helping out the women, but because they have a responsibility as men in a sexist society. If they don’t speak out, and they don’t utilize whatever influence they have, then in a sense they are part of the problem .”

But, as San pointed out, it’s all-too-easy to do that in a tweet or a Facebook post, when “the mens” in question is a celebrity who is being publicly shamed.

The real work begins which allows you have most impact- closer to home.

And so I reached out to Denise, and she told me that she wanted to tell her tale. As she would explain to me subsequently, she wanted other victims to know about the importance of speaking up quickly about sexual assault so they can find the support they need.

We agreed to meet in person at her home in the western suburbs of Philadelphia , not far from where I grew up.

It was time to go home again. I caught a flight the next day.

* * *

Whenever we threw cookouts at our home, the adults would gather at the backyard patio, while the kids would go off and play, sometimes in Todd’s room in the basement.

Denise isn’t sure exactly how old she was when it happened, but as far as he can remember, Todd was about 15, and she was 11 or 12. She knew Todd and his friends, and trusted them. She remembers Todd as the leader when a group of his friends encircled her and pinned her to a chair.

” I didn’t know what to do. It was very scary. All I see is me on the chair and all their hands everywhere on me ,” Denise told me.” I don’t hear what they’re saying. I got to the point where I was actually gonna threaten to spit on them. They didn’t like that, but then I supposed I can’t really spew on them cause then they’ll get mad at me, so again I felt powerless .”

Jared Goyette and his friend Christie. Photo: Jared Goyette

She isn’t sure how long it went on for, but the memory of the feelings she felt then is still raw, many decades later. Fear, indignation, and guilt, because she thought that she had brought it on herself.

When the boys paused for a moment, she bolted out of the room, and to her mom. But she was afraid to say anything directly.

” I merely recollect going outside, trying to get my mommy to notice that perhaps something was incorrect, but not making it so obvious that all the adults would notice. I didn’t know what to do and it was an instinct of mine learned from society that I couldn’t say anything about it, because I didn’t want the grownups to get mad .”

Her mother told her to go play back inside, back to the room. Denise obeyed.

There, the assault continued.

* * *

At a moment when some are rushing to downplay the alleged sexual assaults committed against young girls by Roy Moore, the senate candidate in Alabama, it’s worth went on to say that “whats happened to” Denise in the basement of my childhood home was a life-altering event for her.

The shame and guilt she felt in that moment persisted, and grew, and spread. At 11, she played piano, the harpsichord, the violin, and sing in the church choir, but abruptly, her interest in music faded. Her mother knew something was incorrect, but couldn’t figure out what had happened.

” She was extraordinary, and that aimed ,” Suzanne said.” She had to be talked into going to choir practise or talked into practising. She simply went into this little cave of her own build. And I thought it was because of something that was happening at school. I didn’t understand what the impetus was that began that .”

Denise described her descent as a domino effect:” Your whole perception changes about how you think people look at you .”

Years would go by before she would tell anyone.

There was another person I had to talk to while I was home: my other half-brother, Chris. I’m 35, and he’s 51, a year and half younger than Todd. He would have been about 13 around the time it happened, and I needed to ask him what he knew.

We met a restaurant. When I violated out the topic, he asked not to be recorded, and the conversation grew heated. Later though, we talked over the phone, and he agreed to go on the record.

First, he denied knowing anything about it.” I have no memory whatsoever of seeing this go on, or hearing about it , nothing ,” he said.

He did not speak fondly of Todd, however, remembering a hour when he tried to bringing a girl home only for Todd to make a move on her. He remembered Todd’s attitude toward women as being” very confident and aggressive “.

” I’m telling you, the culture was different in those times. Todd was jock, handsome. Of course he always guessed the girls wanted him. Boys is likely to be sons ,” Chris said.

Chris generally had two lines of believe. On one hand, he said that if what Denise described happened next,” there was nothing right about it “. But he also constantly tried to transformation the responsibility back to her, recalling hours she did things that he said could have been interpreted as suggestive.” There may have been a little promiscuity going on. Right ?” he said at one point.( Again, Denise was about 11 at the time .)

The conversation endeavoured to our mother. He began by saying that he believed the histories of her being raped as a teen, and that hearing that our mother went through had upset him. For a few moments, after what had been a draining conversation, I thought that we had finally determined common ground.

But again, he shifted.

” I think that sucks, but the other thing I recollect now- I’ve heard a couple of different people, throughout the years- is that our mother was a little promiscuous when she was young ,” he told me.

My heart sank. I mean, actually? This was our own mother he was talking about. As we went back and forth, I concluded that the tendency to shift the focus back to the accuser was reflexive and almost hardwired in him, as I think is often the suit for men of his generation. This is something many girls know and have known, but I was discovering it first-hand.

Some of my earliest memories are of Chris swinging me by my feet as a child. He loves his wife and they have a solid relationship. He’s my brother and I love him. But what I found in our dialogue was a painful instance of the various kinds of positions that built Denise and Suzanne, as well as countless other victims, reluctant to come forward. And if I were to stay silent about it, or simply shrug it off as the various kinds of thing guys say sometimes, I would, in essence, be participating.

I choose not to participate.

* * *

Denise slowly began her mending process, and eventually got married and then separated. She has a daughter in college and a son in high school. Both live their lives her, and all three perform together at church- Denise and her daughter Cassandra sing in the choir, while her son Colin plays in the bell choir. Her children were in the room as she told her narrative. She wanted them to be there.

” What I hope people get out of this is, that they should not be embarrassed about it. They should tell someone as soon as it happens, so that you can get the help that this is necessary and you can start to move on from it. And you can move on from it ,” Denise said.

” I would say a lot of me has been able to move on, but there’s still parts of me that need to be fixed. Knowing that these things happen, I feel that I have been able to be very open with my children. Let them know that if anything happens to them, they can come and ask me and I will not judge them and I will try and help .”

” I suppose people need to know that there are people out there that will help them and support them ,” she said.

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The Clothesline Project: an exhibit asking women to share stories of sexual abuse

Mexican artist Mnica Mayers installation at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington features feedback from visitors about their experiences

In 1962, Mexican artist Monica Mayer had her first experience with sexual assault: she was an eight-year-old girl strolling through a Mexican town with her mom a few steps ahead of her. As Mayer was reading a comic book, a human in his 30 s approached.

” He touched my’ pussy ‘, as your president would say ,” said Mayer over the phone from her studio in Mexico City.” I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience .”

Last week, Mayer installed El Tendedero/ The Clothesline Project, an exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. A room is filled with a clothesline, pink pieces of paper and pens. Guests are invited to leave anonymous remarks about sexual abuse and harassment.

The pink slips of paper ask:” Have you ever experienced violence or harassment? What happened ?” while another reads:” As a woman, where do you feel safe ?”

” They don’t have to write anything but their experience ,” said Mayer.” As an art piece, it’s more symbolic, it’s not a sociological survey .”

The project initially began in 1978 in Mexico City when Mayer was commissioned to make an artwork that responded to what she disliked most about the city,” which was harassment on modes of public transport”, she said, and it grew from there.

Photograph: Kevin Allen, courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

A feminist art pioneer of the 1970 s, Mayer co-founded Mexico’s first-ever feminist art collective, Polvo de Gallina Negra( Black Hen Powder) and was included in the 2007 feminist art survey” WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Despite her trailblazing participatory artwork from the 1970 s , not much has changed over the past 40 years.” Out of 12 women murdered daily in South America, seven are in Mexico ,” said Mayer.” We are not going forward, we are going backwards and it’s becoming more violent .”

With the recent sexual assault allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, Artforum magazine’s former publisher Knight Landesman, as well as examples against comedian Louis CK and actor Kevin Spacey, Mayer isn’t astonished about what’s going on in the entertainment industry.

” There is always something happening in relation to harassment, we’re now talking about it very publicly ,” she says.” This clothesline project seemed like it was planned but it’s a coincidence .”

Despite last month’s viral #MeToo Alyssa Milano-led hashtag campaign against sexual violence, Mayer wants the online activism to continue over into the legal system.” It worries me that if allegations become scandals in the media, it doesn’t talk to the legal system where there is a clear penalty ,” she said.” We need to have the appropriate penalty .”

This Washington installation has two new questions she hadn’t focused on before; one is:” How do you regain your joy after going through an experience of violence ?” The other says:” What have you done or what could you do to stop violence against girls ?”

” Now in Hollywood and the art world, women in powerful positions are talking about it but most women are not in that stance ,” said Mayer.

” Some don’t realize how many females are not able to have a voice or denounce harassment or rape, like undocumented women who are in no way going to denounce anything if they have a anxiety of being deported .”

Monica Mayer speaking at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Photograph: Kevin Allen, politenes of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

According to a survey from the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, there are 4.1 million undocumented women in America. Also, 4 million American citizens live in a household with at the least one undocumented mother.” It’s a tense situation ,” she said.” We have to make alliances among the women in the arts so these realities are ensure .”

Even though this artwork has traveled extensively through Latin America, it strikes a chord with the amount of violence in the US.

” We tend to think Mexico has a lot of harassment but whenever I do this project in the States, it’s just as bad ,” said Mayer.” I’m shocked about the level of violence .”

The goal of this artwork is not only to raise awareness of the problems of harassment against girls but to arrive at conclusions to help solve the problem.

” The only route we are going to finish with harassment is a really deep culture change that goes from men re-educating themselves and women re-educating ourselves, the moment we know more about harassment, we can change it ,” she said.” It’s something we have to criminalize, a change in society as a whole .”

It ties into her own experience with visiting the US as a Mexican woman- she traveled to Los Angeles to take part in a group exhibition opening at the Hammer Museum this September, Radical Girls: The latin american countries Art, 1960 -1 985. Mayer prepared herself to get across the border with extra papers.

” When I cross the border to exhibit, I ask museums to give me letters so I have a newspaper demonstrating why I am going- they also send me the numbers of lawyers in case I get into trouble ,” she said.” This does not feel friendly, especially when Trump is saying he is going to put up a wall between Mexico and America. It’s the first time in my life I don’t want to go to the United States .”

Despite the fact that she sees things getting worse before they get better, Mayer is optimistic about the future.

” The people who are aware, conscious and participating in activism is what gives me hope ,” she said.” There is this fear looming but please try to end this story in a positive way .”

El Tendedero/ The Clothesline Project runs until 5 January at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. and the Radical Girls: Latin American Art, 1960 -1 985 operates until 31 December at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles .

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I had dinner with Steven Seagal, and I’m not surprised by the latest accusations | Cassie Lane

When I was asked by my modelling agent to attend a work dinner I had no notion I would be feeing with Seagal, accompanied by eight buxom blonde women

Steven Seagal seemed me square in the eye.” I studied karate when I was very young ,” he said in a gravelly whisper, responding to my query as to why he was wearing a purple robe to dinner.” Later, I devoted my time to Harry Kiyoshi Ishisaka ,” he continued. His hair was pulled into a tight ponytail, accentuating the breadth of his jowl, which spilled over his tight collar and wobbled when he spoke.” He developed me to become a seventh black belt in Aikido. The robe is a sign of respect .” Seagal’s accent had a sharp American edge except when he pronounced words like Aikido, which came out in a swift Asiatic shout.

When I was asked by my modelling agent to attend a run dinner I had no idea I would be eating with Steven Seagal, or that we would be accompanied by eight other buxom blond girls. But, never one to turn down a free meal, I reasoned that these sorts of arrangements were practically a custom in LA, where I’d been living for over a year, and so I decided to stay long enough to at least try the restaurant’s famous dessert.

Though the imbalanced sexuality ratio would build most people uncomfortable, Seagal seemed right at home. He had no problem talking about himself while taking in as much cleavage as he could fit into his beady little eyes. No, this was not Seagal’s first rodeo. We were to sit and listen: an understanding we tacitly gleaned from the fact that he asked no questions yet silently glared at his DIY harem, refusing to speak until he had the table’s full attention.

Seagal is the latest person in Hollywood to be accused of sexual harassment by a collecting of status of women following the Harvey Weinstein revelations. On Friday Portia De Rossi alleged that during a film audition Seagal told her” how important it was to have chemistry off-screen” and then unzipped his trousers.

After my experience with Seagal, I am not at all surprised by these allegations, but not for the obvious reasons. It wasn’t the eighteen-hand stroke of his mammoth ego that he himself had arranged, or the way he ogled our breasts like they had suddenly grown lips and started singing to him in chorus, it wasn’t even the way he endlessly interrupted us mid-question so he could resume his lengthy disquisition on himself. What created alarm bell and portended to the insidious danger of this man’s behaviour was his sanctimony.

Seagal revelled in telling us about himself: his soon-to-be-released album, his innate skills that compelled his Aikido master to train him when he was merely a teen, the fact that he was clairvoyant and a healer from birth, and that his fans were also his students, on whom he was bestowing divine wisdom. He genuinely believed that he was blessed by the divine and we mere mortals didn’t even warrant an afterthought.

One of the three main arms of Buddhism is Silla: moral conduct and the notion that all living entities are equal. And yet, for Seagal, a self-proclaimed devout Buddhist, women were clearly seen as inferior.

How can someone be so devoted to equality yet so prejudiced towards an entire gender? How did Seagal reconcile these two antithetical values while sporting such a self-righteous disposition?

According to psychologist Leon Festinger people will do just about anything to achieve internal consistency. Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort we experience when our behaviour come into conflict with our notions and values. To alleviate this inconvenience and achieve consistency we must either change our values, change our behaviour, or we seek out external factors that help to rationalise our conduct.

Hollywood is, and has traditionally been , notoriously, embarrassingly sexist. While we are beginning to see progress in some areas, when it is necessary to gender equality, Hollywood is still very much stuck in the dark ages. As refreshing as it is to finally see the Weinstein weeds being rooted out, so long as Hollywood continues to subjugate women and perpetuate toxic masculinity, men like Weinstein and Seagal will continue to rely on it to rationalise their behaviour.

Yes, the accused must be held accountable for their actions. They must be punished and made an example of. But we will never see real progress in that industry until we cleanse the clay that is currently fertile ground for noxious weeds.

As dinner wrapped up and we ate the last of our dessert, I watched Seagal finger his mala beads, spellbound by the cleavage of the most buxom girl at the table. In that moment I very much hoped that the Buddhist beliefs were true and that in his next life Seagal would be reincarnated as a beautiful girl, with massive boobs.

Cassie Lane is a Melbourne-based freelance novelist. Her book, How to Garment a Dummy, is a memoir about her experiences running as an international model and a feminist criticism on the beauty industry

Ex-Israeli PM introduced Harvey Weinstein to former Mossad spies

Ehud Barak admits referring movie mogul to private investigators who reportedly helped to suppress sexual abuse allegations

The former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has said he introduced the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to a Tel Aviv-based investigations firm made up of former spies reportedly hired by the producer to suppress sexual abuse accusations against him.

Weinstein allegedly hired an” army of spies” in an attempt to stop accusers from going public with sex misconduct claims against him, according to a report in the New Yorker this week.

The magazine claims that among the private security bureaux hired by Weinstein, starting from around autumn 2016, was Black Cube, which is largely run by former officers of Israeli intelligence agencies, including Mossad.

” Over a year ago, Barak was asked by Harvey Weinstein if he knew an Israeli company he had is aware of, that was capable of helping him with business issues he had. Barak is proving to[ Weinstein] the company he heard of was likely Black Cube ,” a spokesperson for Barak said in a statement.

” Barak is not personally familiar with the firm or its executives but devoted Weinstein its contact information. Barak was not aware until this morning of the fact the company was hired by Weinstein, or for what purposes or operations ,” the statement added.

The New Yorker alleges that two Black Cube investigators satisfied the actor Rose McGowan, who later publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to obtain information.

Weinstein” unequivocally denies” all claims of non-consensual sex, a spokesperson for individual producers said.

Black Cube has not replied to a Guardian request for commentary, but it told Israeli media outlets that it did not discuss its clients, and said its run was legal.

On its website, Black Cube describes itself as a” select group of veterans from the Israeli elite intelligence divisions that specializes in tailored solutions to complex business and litigation challenges “.

Barak’s statement coincides with dates in the New Yorker article which claims that Weinstein approached Black Cube in autumn 2016, to seek their assistance in silencing the emerging sexual abuse accusations against him.

The magazine asserts examiners secretly recorded at the least four sessions with McGowan while pretending to be a women’s rights advocate, quoting dozens of pages of documents and seven people directly involved in Weinstein’s efforts.

The investigator reportedly used a different fake identity to fulfils a New York magazine journalist who was investigating allegations made against Weinstein.

She also allegedly attempted to broker a meeting with Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker journalist who reported 13 claims of abuse made against Weinstein last month, and also wrote the 6 November investigation into Weinstein’s links with Black Cube.

During the year that Black Cube reportedly worked for Weinstein, agents allegedly collected information on dozens of people, compiling psychological profiles with their personal or sex histories in order to contradict, discredit or intimidate his accusers.

The New Yorker reports that Weinstein sought the assistance of ex-employees from his movie enterprises to help collect names and place bellows. Investigations also allegedly sometimes went through Weinstein’s lawyers. Among them, the New Yorker asserts, was David Boies, who represented Al Gore in his 2000 presidential election dispute with George W Bush.

The New Yorker claims Boies signed a contract demanding that Black Cube seek to uncover information to stop the publication of a New York Times story about Weinstein’s sexual abuse when his firm was also representing the Times in a libel occurrence. Boies told the magazine “it was a mistake” to have been involved with the researchers.

Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister has rejected the New Yorker report, saying:” It is a fiction to suggest that any someones were targeted or squelched at any time .”

Neither Hofmeister nor Boies immediately responded to requests for comment.

After the publication of the New Yorker report, McGowan praised Farrow for his investigation, tweeting:” Ronan Farrow your words will line the halls of justice .”

Meanwhile, another person alleged to have been snooped on, the actor Asia Argento, described the revelations as terrifying, writing on Twitter 😛 TAGEND

Asia Argento (@ AsiaArgento)

Why didn’t I, @rosemcgowan, @RoArquette @AnnabellSciorra spoke up earlier? We were followed by ex-Mossad agents. Isn’t that scaring? Very https :// LlbEHY4t 13

November 7, 2017

Police in London, Los Angeles and New York have launched investigations into the alleged behaviour by Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by more than 90 women.

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Kevin Spacey accused of sexual assault by son of actor Richard Dreyfuss

Harry Dreyfuss alleges that the House of Cards star touched him inappropriately while his father was in the same room

The son of performer Richard Dreyfuss has accused Kevin Spacey of sex misconduct, alleging that the House of Cards star molested him while his father was in the same room.

Harry Dreyfuss, who was 18 at the time of the incident, made the claims in an essay published by Buzzfeed. In it he described Spacey as a” sexual predator”, who felt “safe” to abuse him, knowing that he” wouldn’t say a word “.

The claims contribute to a growing sexual abuse scandal against Spacey, who has been dropped by House of Cards producers Netflix and is currently the subject of an investigation by police in London.

Dreyfuss claims that the alleged encounter happened in London in 2008 while his father was rehearsing for the play Complicit, which was being directed against Spacey during his tenure as artistic directorof the Old Vic theatre.

” It happened one night when the three of us were alone in Kevin’s apartment rehearsing my father’s lines. My parent didn’t see, and I didn’t tell him about the incident for many years ,” he wrote.

Dreyfuss said that, during the course of its rehearsal, Spacey repeatedly placed his hand on his thigh. He said that his father is not aware of the incident, as he was ” deeply focused on his script “. Dreyfuss claims that when he moved to a different seat, Spacey followed him and continued to hold his thigh, before groping his crotch.

Dreyfuss added that he did not alert his father to the alleged incident as he feared that it might start a feud between his father and Spacey.” I didn’t want the play to be threatened ,” he said.

” It only never passed to me that Kevin would be interested in me in the first place. He was an adult man, a hero of mine, my dad’s boss , none of which were categories on my radar for sexual interactions. Besides, I thought, surely he can’t be coming on to me like this right in front of my dad ,” he added.

Dreyfuss said he had sought to downplay the alleged incident in the nine years since it resulted by” telling people the narrative at parties for chuckles “. He said that he ultimately felt emboldened to speak publicly after hearing the claims against Harvey Weinstein.” I came to see how important it is to add my voice to the people who are demanding a better world. A world in which powerful humen are no longer allowed to feel safe to do this, or far worse ,” he wrote.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, Spacey’s lawyer Bryan Freedman said that the actor” perfectly denies the allegations” made by Dreyfuss.

Richard Dreyfuss, who Harry says was first say of the incident four or five years after it happened, tweeted that he was ” unbelievably proud” of his son for coming forward.

Richard Dreyfuss (@ RichardDreyfuss)

I love my son @harrydreyfuss more than I could explain with all the words in the world. And I am so incredibly proud of him right now. https :// iLOxTxPe4n

November 5, 2017

In the past fortnight, Spacey has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by at least 10 someones. In an article published by Buzzfeed on Friday, the actor was accused of sexual abuse by three humen. Other humen to have accused Spacey of assault include the actor Anthony Rapp and multiple crew members on the Netflix drama House of Cards.

Spacey responded to Rapp in a statement last week, in which said that he did not remember the incident but if it did happen it was likely due to” deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour” for which he apologised. He has not yet responded to any of the other allegations. A representative for the actor said last week that he was ” taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and therapy “.

On Friday Netflix announced that it would no longer work with Spacey on House of Cards and had cancelled the release of a biopic of novelist Gore Vidal, which Spacey had produced and starred in. Spacey’s publicist has also announced that she had severed ties with the actor.

Meanwhile, policemen in Scotland Yard’s child abuse and sexual offences squad have confirmed that they are currently investigating a 2008 allegation of sexual assault believe to have been made against Spacey. Police did not identify the actor by name but said that it was looking into a claim that a” a man assaulted another man in 2008 in Lambeth “.

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For some men, rape just isnt a big deal | Emma Brockes

One man I know thought its not as bad as working in a factory in China, which depicts just how far weve got to go, writes Guardian columnist Emma Brockes

One thing I keep hearing, as the fallout from Weinstein continues, is skepticism that a famous champ of liberal causes might have a problem with women. To most women who have spent hour around champions of liberal causes, this is( grimly) hilarious. The idea that humen on the left are less likely to be misogynists than humen on the right is as bogus an idea as the one that men of the cloth are less likely to sin. And yet over and over it comes: why did he do it? Was it because of self-loathing? Was it the thrill of getting away with it?

I think he did it because, to him, it was simply no big deal. I was talking with a friend once about sexual assault and he said:” Well, being raped isn’t as bad as, say, working in a factory in China .” Apart from the ludicrousness of the comparing- of trying to figure out what rape is and isn’t as bad as- it was abruptly clear to me that to him, and I assume to many men, rape exists strictly in the hypothetical realm.” If you had to work in a factory for six months or be raped, which would you choose ?” I asked. He seemed taken aback; rape wasn’t something he had considered in relation to himself.

There have been complaints from women that the elision of minor infringements- knee-grabbing, verbal harassment- with violent assault dilutes the gravity of “genuine” sex crime. But it seems to me that these things have always been elided: by the criminal justice system, by men who don’t see much discrepancies between pinching someone’s arse and” non-consensual sex “. Unless you are a 17 -year-old who is grabbed off the street by humen in ski masks, the continuum between sexual assault, harassment and aggressive “banter” is at best a little blurry.

There will be over-corrections. Some of the narratives on offer to young women to whom older men have been inappropriate will invite some to feel more traumatised than they are. It is, undoubtedly, better to laugh off some experiences than nurse them.

But it is also better to live in a world in which the genuinely traumatised aren’t told nothing has happened to them, and where the presumptions underpinning even the most trivial acts of aggression are dragged out and uncovered. It has never been much of a taboo to touch a woman without her permission. Perhaps, under pain of calamitous “overreaction” from those legions of humourless millennials, it will be from now on.

Shelving the questions

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Film-maker Brett Ratner accused by six women of sexual misconduct

The director of Rush hour and X-Men: The Last Stand has been accused of a range of unwanted sexual behaviour by Hollywood actors

Director and producer Brett Ratner has been accused of sex misconduct by six females, including actors Natasha Henstridge and Olivia Munn.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the Rush hour and X-Men: The Last Stand director has been accused of behaviours ranging from sexual assault to harassment, that took place in private homes, movie defines and industry events.

Henstridge, who is best known for starring in the 1995 sci-fi cinema Species, induced the allegation to the Times that Ratner had forced her to perform oral sex on him at his New York apartment while she was starting out as a model in the early 90 s.” He strong-armed me in a real route. He physically forced himself on me. At some phase, I dedicated in and he did his thing ,” she said.

Former Daily Show correspondent Munn claims that Ratner behaved inappropriately towards her on several occasions in the 2000 s, including masturbating in front of her in his trailer on the set of the film After the Sunset in 2004. Munn afterward wrote about the incident in her 2010 volume Suck it, Wonder Woman !: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek. While she didn’t mention the director by name, Ratner later acknowledged that he was the person in question during an appearance on a TV depict, and said he had slept with Munn, a claim he subsequently retracted.

‘ He physically forced himself on me’ … Natasha Henstridge. Photograph: Fred Prouser/ Reuters

” I’ve made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner ,” Munn told the Times.” It feels as if I keep going up against the same bully at school who just won’t quit .”

Actor Katharine Towne also alleged harassment by Ratner, describing a meeting at a party in 2005 where the director followed her into the bathroom. Towne added that following the incident, the director’s assistant called her multiple times over a six-month period in an attempt to arrange a dinner between her and Ratner.

Actors Jaime Ray Newman, Eri Sasaki and Jorina King also claimed to have been victims of inappropriate behaviour during encounters with Ratner, according to the report, which also included statements from former assistants and colleagues of the director.

Speaking on Ratner’s behalf, the director’s attorney Martin Singer disputed the allegations made against him.” I have represented Mr Ratner for two decades, and no woman has in the past made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment ,” Singer said.” Furthermore , no girl has in the past requested or received any financial settlement from my client .”

A prolific producer as well as a director, Ratner has had a hand in a number of major recent Hollywood films, including The Revenant, Jersey Boys and the Horrible Bosses series. In 2012 he co-founded cinema financing company RatPac-Dune with current US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The firm shares a production deal with Warner Bros, who also have a first-look enter into negotiations with Ratner. In lighting of the allegations, a spokesperson for Warner said that they were” reviewing the situation ,” with Ratner.

The allegations against Ratner come at a time when Hollywood is reckoning with a culture of sex misconduct, in the wake of claims made against Harvey Weinstein. Producer Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by more than 90 women, and is currently the subject of investigations by police in New York, London and Los Angeles. A spokesperson for Weinstein says that he” unequivocally denies” all allegations of non-consensual sex.

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