Here’s Newsweek’s latest cover:
Well!!! Lots to unpack here.
2. Donald Trump is absolutely not “next.”
3. The subtext of this cover art is that women (and men!) speaking out about their assault, harassment and abuse is significant only in that it impedes the success of powerful men. It literally centers penises in the conversation. On top of everything, it’s a grossly inappropriate way to illustrate people coming forward—and many people for the first time—to talk about their sexual assault. Also, you don’t have to have a penis to sexually assault someone!!
4. The balloon dick, it must be noted, is far too large.
Apart from the general grotesquerie of the cover, the story it illustrates is also uniquely bad. Here’s how the story starts (emphasis mine throughout):
After centuries of indifference to or even tacit (and sometimes open) sanctioning of sexual harassment, abuse or assault, we are suddenly in the midst of a cock conflagration. Powerful men in Hollywood, politics, journalism and many other fields are being pilloried, sacked or jailed for piggish or even criminal behavior toward women.
A cock conflagration? No.
To understand how this bonfire started, we must speak frankly about the Garden of Dicks, a mythical place in the caveman lobe of the male brain. Like that other primeval paradise, the Garden of Eden, men have tried for millennia to create it here on Earth.
The Garden of Dicks? Who edited this? Help!!
The Garden of Dicks is a Hooters. It’s an NFL locker room. It’s the Vatican. It’s the Rolling Stones’ private jet. It’s Harvey Weinstein’s suite at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.
So is it a garden or a Hooters...
In the Garden of Dicks, the sense of entitlement regarding female bodies is so massive that many men assume women will “let you do anything,” as Donald Trump has suggested on more than one occasion. “They’ll walk up, and they’ll flip their top, and they’ll flip their panties,” he once told radio host Howard Stern.
Please find another analogy.
In the Garden of Dicks, a man can say something like that and believe it, because there’s always a Stern or a Billy Bush to snicker and egg him on. “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump said to a fawning Bush on a hot mic en route to filming an Access Hollywood segment over 10 years ago. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Like I get what you’re trying to say but—
Then there was the Republican presidential debate in March 2016—four men on a stage—when Trump boasted on live, prime-time TV about the size of his penis.
In the Garden of Dicks, it’s always about the dick.
In the Garden of Dicks, plausible deniability is taken for granted. When 17 women came forward during Trump’s campaign last year to allege he had done that pussy-grabbing, forced-kissing, tongue-down-the-throat thing to them, he called them all liars. “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” he said during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, weeks before he was elected. His fans roared like beasts.
Trump still hasn’t sued those “liars.” Perhaps because he was so busy moving into the Oval Office, where he immediately set up a Rose Garden of Dicks.
The phrase “Garden of Dicks” shows up ten times in the story, and yet I feel no closer to understanding what the piece’s author means by it.
Another way of phrasing this that would be much more accurate and less... gross would be “patriarchy.” What the author doesn’t seem to understand is that patriarchy does not require a roomful of penises in order to persist, just as racism does not require a roomful of Klansmen in order to persist.
The #MeToo movement was not about creating “a cock conflagration,” though points for alliteration. The men and women who shared their assault stories weren’t doing so to destroy every man who’s ever wronged them. If you talk to sexual assault survivors, many of them aren’t actually seeking comeuppance for their pain. They just want to be heard, and believed, and try to help prevent what happened to them from happening to other people.
What a boner-killer, right Newsweek?