Former FBI director James Comey may not have said anything politically groundbreaking in his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, but according to feminists, he struck a decisive blow for women everywhere.
W Magazine and Refinery 29 suggest Comey’s description of Trump as an overbearing boss hit home with every woman who has ever worked under a man, been sexually harassed by a man, or, for that matter, been sexually assaulted by a man.
Trump’s unexpected private dinner with Comey and, later, his suggestion to Comey that the FBI put aside their investigation into his former national security director Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, both “share commonalities” with the female workplace experience, under the heavy thumb of the Patriarchy.
Comey, of course, is an experienced government official, having risen to lead one of the largest Federal law enforcement bureaus, and served several Presidential administrations in a variety of capacities. He is likely no stranger to adversity: in the early 2000s he fought the Bush administration over warrantless wiretapping proposals, and earlier, brought charges against Martha Stewart for insider trading.
But as members of Congress questioned Comey about his interactions with the President, feminists everywhere were triggered, feeling solidarity with Hillary Clinton’s main public accuser, over his “dressing down,” which they said resembled the way sexual assault victims are accused of “asking for it” from their rapists.
Others claimed that Comey was showcasing the treatment all women— and especially women of color—receive on the job.
Sen. Marco Rubio even had the tenacity to claim that Comey seemed weak for not contacting the White House counsel after reportedly feeling pressured by the President (Comey, of course, also didn’t drop the investigation). “The similarities between Comey’s experience and women’s experiences gives insight into how powerful men are protected,” Refinery 29 argued.
W magazine went even further, with a narrative tale, illustrating exactly how Comey’s experience, alone with Donald Trump, precisely mirrored an abusive work relationship between a male boss and a female employee. W argued that Comey perfectly illustrated how difficult it is to “say no to a powerful man.”
Comey’s feminist bona fides do have a limit, of course—he can’t truly experience oppression because he still has his white male privilege—but that shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a rallying point for all women who have ever dealt with male oppression.
Of course, this embrace of Comey is a far cry from his treatment at the hands of feminists just six months ago. When Comey was making his final speech about Hillary Clinton, he was roundly decried as, as best, emblematic of the rampant misogyny that had overtaken the country, as a response to Clinton’s rise to power. At worst, Comey was a vile sexist himself.
What a difference a Trump makes. Maybe that’s the true power of the Patriarchy.