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Why Paris Hilton’s Comments on Women & Sexual Assault Were So Dangerous

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Paris Hilton's comments about women & sexual assault are not OK

On the same day that Taylor Swift won her symbolic $1 countersuit against the former radio host whom Swift sued, accusing him of groping her, another iconic American blonde took the conversation on sexual assault in a completely different direction.

In an interview with Marie Claire published yesterday, Paris Hilton slammed the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault as attention-seekers and made her disregard for women’s bodily autonomy quite clear.

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When Marie Claire's writer asked Hilton about the infamous “grab them by the pussy” remark made by the now-President in 2005 (and unearthed in 2016 just before the election), she was dismissive of the comment, saying "I've heard guys say the craziest things ever, because I'm always around guys, and I listen to them speak.”

Hilton's casual response completely disregards the damaging effects of statements such as Trump's. Using her logic, being male automatically comes with a degree of ownership of women's bodies and gives men the right to “say the craziest things ever” — including but not limited to, “I view you as an inanimate object solely existing for my own benefit and pleasure.” 

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By any account, that would have been plenty misogyny-boosting for one interview, but Hilton wasn’t done.

When asked about the women who allege that the president sexually assaulted them, Hilton said, "I think that they are just trying to get attention and get fame.” And that’s just the part Marie Claire included in the published version of the interview.

This morning, Irin Carmon, the journalist who wrote the article, tweeted the extended version of her exchange with Hilton, noting that the contents were more than could fit in the print version of the story. The longer interview also includes the gem: “I feel like, a lot of people, when something happens all these opportunities will come out. They want to get money or get paid to not say anything or get a settlement when nothing really happened. So I don’t believe any of that.”

Over and over again, we've seen women who accuse famous and powerful men of sexual misconduct being routinely discredited, from those who testified against Bill Cosby to Casey Affleck’s former colleagues who sued him for verbal, physical and sexual harassment. Coming forward as a survivor of sexual assault is hard enough without having to first prove you were the victim of an attack, followed by defending your intentions — squashing rumors that you’re in it for all the fame and fortune that supposedly come with the humiliation of being on the receiving end of a sex crime.

And in case you need a reminder, men who have been accused of sexual misconduct have gone on to win Oscars and, of course, the presidency. They’re doing just fine. There’s no need for Hilton to come to their defense and add to the already prevalent belief that women — apparently lacking other hobbies — fabricate sexual assault claims for fun and as a method of career advancement.

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And yet, Hilton said that she identifies as a feminist.

“I just feel it’s about women’s empowerment and girl power, and I’m very into that,” she told Marie Claire in what came across as a half-hearted attempt at a Spice Girls audition 20 years too late.

Paris: People who have been sexually assaulted have a hard enough time being believed and not discredited without people like you — especially one who claims to be a feminist — attacking them too. Just stick with the perfume, thanks.

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