While the ratings-hungry jackals in the mainstream media try desperately to gin up a contrived, counterproductive and ultimately toothless sexism scandal in the Democratic primary, the real perpetrators of misogyny and toxic masculinity in the United States are continuing to do so with shocking audacity.
Allison Donahue, a 22-year-old reporter for the Michigan Advance, was attempting to get a comment from Republican State Senator Peter Lucido on his prior membership in a “violent, anti-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Facebook group” in the State Senate building, where Lucido is the Majority Whip and a chair of three major committees.
A line of 30 boys from all-boys Catholic high school De La Salle Collegiate were lined up outside the doors, and Lucido used them to dodge the question — and while Donahue was walking away, Lucido asked her if she had heard of the school. When she said no, Lucido told her that “You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you.”
Donahue recounted that “the teenagers burst into an Old Boys’ Network-type of laughter, and I walked away knowing that I had been the punchline of their ‘locker room’ talk.”
The most generous reading of this offensive comment is that it is objectifying and belittling for a powerful politician to speak so condescendingly and infantilizing to a reporter trying to hold him accountable for his past actions. But the line “they could have a lot of fun with you,” in the context of a post-Kavanaugh America and an atmosphere of intense, violent hostility from the right-wing directed at the media, can be read to have appalling insinuations involving sexual assault.
Donahue would later confront Lucido about his remark, telling him that “I thought the comment that you made was unprofessional in front of the group of boys, saying that I would have fun with them, I don’t know what you were insinuating, but— ”
…at which point she was cut off by the mansplaining Senator, who weakly tried to argue that he only meant they would have “fun together at a dance.”
“De La Salle, I went there, and it’s an all-male school and anytime we had dances we had to invite the girls over for dancing or socializing, it’s very awkward for a lot of these boys,” he said. “So if you took it any way other than that. … The fact that they have Regina school, an all-girls’ school, get together. They do this, and they have dances and they have social days. It was awkward for me when I went to college and I first met a woman, I didn’t even know how to act around a woman.”
He even tried to argue that this is “just how he talks to young women,” recounts Donahue. “I said it to an all-girls’ school last week, ‘How would you like to have all the boys from the Senate come over? It was nothing disingenuous. It was no harm.”
Lucido dismissed the virulent misogyny and Islamophobia contained in the Facebook group he was a member of as “their crap, not mine.”
His defense being just as uncomfortable and inappropriate as his original comment makes it clear that not only does he not see anything wrong with what he said but also that he has the gall to take issue with being called out on it!
It is a testament to the bravery and determination of the reporter for her to stand up and demand the respect she deserves from this man — and for the people of Michigan to know what kind of a person he really is as he contemplates a run for governor.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.