Donald Trump has been a money maker, story breaker and career-defining media sensation ever since he became the Republican candidate for the 2016 election back in July of last year.
He has provided a litany and seemingly inexorable torrent of stories, material and retweets for the media that have been invigorated at a time when the very notion of media was becoming a blur. With subscriptions waning, print presses shutting down, and a very dismal outlook for journalists and writers alike because of blogging sensations, pre-President Trump, has Donald saved the media as we know it today?
Courtesy of Raw Story
If he has, he probably won't ever recognize his contribution publicly, as currently the two are going through a very public and nasty break-up, leaving nobody unscathed.
The five stages of grief for a break up of this magnitude would usually read 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. Only, this is not your typical break-up. And perhaps neither party is suffering a loss to grieve from - they are however suffering a collapse in a relationship that will have ramifications throughout the world and will cement Trump's presidency (if it isn't already) into presidential history as one of the most torrid since the conception of The United States of America.
It's no secret that this relationship has been tested before - it is one that is constantly fraught with difficulties, deceits and betrayals. It had its ups and downs, breaks, and has needed outside counseling - but somehow, through thick and thin, the media and the White House have always emerged on the other side - a unified whole, a well-oiled working machine. The relationship is one that, like many, depends on honesty, communication and a deft belief in one another to provide substance, care and sometimes even some love, for the other half. The two have been known, like a regular couple, to celebrate each others achievements, and chastise (even berate) each others downfalls. Perhaps the media is the more critical of bodies in this particular love affair - but hey, there's always one.
It was Nixon's presidency when last the relationship was as tenuous as it is now, ironically, being that he was the president that gave the media their very own room in the White House - the briefing room, a move that in a regular relationship would term "moving in." It was Roosevelt who first initiated an office for White house reporters, but it was the man with whom (before Trump) had the most difficult and sensational relationship with the media that allowed them into his house and gave them let's say, some wardrobe space - room for a toothbrush, even though they were always fighting and he too called them liars, at the end of the day - he made the first move.
Nixon assumed a similar language to that of Trump's in the past week, calling on media outlets to reveal sources - disavowing 'leakers' and really tearing into the core values of his other half in this equation. He of course was eventually brought down by the infamous duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their confidential informant 'deep throat' and some would propose this is why the current president is calling for sources to be revealed - because he's arrived there's a scandal afoot of watergate proportions. In order to hide or deflect from this worry, he has used abusive language, publicly defamed the media and chastized individuals for their Washington reporting.
I wouldn't go so far as to say the media has been hurt, by their companion's words - they have a thick skin. It's the president who has been the more vulnerable and easily moved by taunting matches - you might go so far as to say that in this relationship, he resembles the stereotypical 'hysterical woman.'
His reactions are volatile, presumptuous and completely out of control. This week, members of the media were left out of a gaggle(a short, off camera press briefing) in an unimpressive and belligerent show of force from the White House, in what appears to many and myself to be the president resigning himself to the fourth stage of grief:
Keeping some members of the press out of the gaggle - kicking a news agency or two out of a White House briefing has absolutely no effect. It's a sad and frankly disturbing tactic and I would go so far as to say it's an indication that Mr. Trump is deep into the depression stage, now remaining a recluse from parties. He has decided to opt out of the Correspondents' dinner - an event at which the pair usually shine; dance together; make fun of each other publicly, and well, parade themselves as a happy couple even just for one evening. Trump's refusal to go could be read as a sign of anxiety, a symptom of depression - knowing that on the night in question he would be the butt of perhaps one too many jokes.
I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
It's difficult to pinpoint at what stage of grief the media are at in this particular break-up. They are indeed a much larger and more multi-faceted body than the president; their personality and intellect on an entirely different scale; their ability to digest a loss or grievance, significantly superior to that of their White House companion. I would say, they reached acceptance at Fake News and are currently past the stages of grief and into the rebound phase, or, point of attack. While there may be no reasoning with the gruff secretary Spicer or talking Ms. Conway down, there is someone that can be reasoned with, that will listen. The lovechild of this pugnacious pair...
For me, it's the most important factor in this break up - as in many. The child. Who gets the child?
The child here of course, is America. It is temperamental, wild, oftentimes outrageous, and in need of a stable, competent parent at. all. times. Over the next weeks and months the break-up will no doubt continue to tear the two parties asunder until under duress there will perhaps come a tipping point, similar to that in 1974. History determines that it is the media - the free, outspoken and imperturbable press that come out winning in this particular scenario.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."