The internet has said a lot about Steve Bannon. It has questioned why he layers his shirts so strangely and why he has a “Nazi face,” and it has parodied him as the Grim Reaper. But what the internet hasn’t called Bannon is a feminist.
That is still the case, but something about the former White House chief of staff’s recent time spent away from President Trump and the day-to-day operations of his administration has left Bannon especially attuned to what much of the country is discussing: the groundswell #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
In a new interview with GQ, Bannon admits to “absolutely” studying how the movement and its leaders have been able to harness limitless political power in efforts to end sexual harassment and assault.
“MeToo is about sexual predators and everything like that. The Time’s Up movement is much more fundamental and actually many steps above MeToo. It’s basically going against 10,000 years of recorded history. That’s the power of it,” Bannon said. “You see here something that’s in a very early, raw stage, but I’ve never seen such potential power in something.”
He continued: “It’s something that is more fundamental and more primal, right? Quite powerful. I respect it. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it. That’s going to become powerful, and I’ll tell you why. They had a million people in the streets throughout the nation [for the second Women’s March].”
Bannon’s comments echo what he’d expressed previously about the movement, first published in the New Yorker in early February.
“It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that [referring to the Golden Globes] — this is the Puritans. It’s anti-patriarchy,” and “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward. . . . The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.”
All of that’s in stark contrast to the relatively muted responses from those still working within the Trump administration about #MeToo. It’d be inaccurate to say Bannon’s a #MeToo ally, but he at least acknowledges the movement more so than his old boss.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
The fissure between Trump and Bannon extends beyond just #MeToo. When Michael Wolff’s much-discussed book Fire and Fury debuted, Bannon was attributed as having disparaged both the president and his son Donald Jr. That reportedly led to Bannon’s ousting from Breitbart News in January.
While Bannon was at the helm, Breitbart reported on #MeToo, most often focusing on how left-wing lawmakers like Elizabeth Warren participated in the movement.
In the GQ interview, Bannon says he is opposed to #MeToo because he perceives it as coming from the left, a direct response to the populist surge of the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s win. Bannon won’t be donning a #TimesUp pin any time soon, but that doesn’t mean he does not recognize the reckoning, as it’s been called.
“The most powerful thing to this [women’s] movement is not Oprah Winfrey,” he said in GQ. “The most powerful thing is a million people [in the streets] on a Saturday. That’s power.”
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