Senate candidate McCrory says women's clothing choices determine if they can claim #MeToo

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The one-term former North Carolina governor also called alleged sexual assault a 'party prank.'

North Carolina Republican Senate hopeful Pat McCrory has repeatedly minimized sexual predation and mocked the #MeToo movement that is fighting to stop it in the years since he lost his bid for reelection as the governor of the state in 2016.

On March 15, 2021, a caller to the talk show McCrory hosted on Charlotte radio station WBT complained about "filth" she said had been broadcast on television during the Grammy Awards the night before: "The 'Grab-mes,' oh, wait, no, the Grammys set back the Black female movement by eons. ... I cannot unsee that train wreck. All the good artists, nobody will remember because of all the filth on the Grammys last night."

McCrory responded with victim-blaming, asserting that it is hypocritical for women to object to being victims of sexual assault while also wearing clothing that McCrory apparently finds somehow responsible for it.

"There was some, the dress, the stuff that these young women — liberated women — are wearing. They wear this stuff and then they talk about #MeToo," McCrory said. "It sends a mixed signal, that's for sure."

McCrory served a single term as governor of North Carolina from 2013 to 2017, losing his reelection race after he signed and defended H.B. 2, unpopular legislation that prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms and facilities that match their gender and prevented localities from choosing to adopt ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people. A costly national economic boycott of the state followed until McCrory was defeated and the law was partially repealed.

After his defeat, McCrory launched his talk show, on which he frequently mocked women's rights and the international movement to stop sexual predation.

On Feb. 3, 2020, McCrory criticized Jennifer Lopez's Super Bowl halftime performance, saying that he'd received messages from "relatives of mine" saying it was "way too risqué for prime time TV."

"Maybe I'm just an old man not seeing things in the new society, but there does seem to be a mixed message we're getting regarding the #MeToo movement versus J-Lo doing some things to herself on stage, in front of millions upon millions of people, that you go, 'Really, is that a talent?'" he grumbled.

In October of that year, McCrory twice said of CBS News journalist Leslie Stahl, "She's a big flirt, let me tell you right now, she is a big flirt. She does not fit the #MeToo generation."

A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

The syllabus for a course McCrory taught on "Hard Lessons of Leadership: An Insider's Look That You Won't Read In A Textbook" at the University of North Carolina's Institute of Politics included a subject described as "The Allure Of Power": "While sexual misconduct scandals are by far the most high-profile instances of lapses in judgement by those in leadership, this seminar will explore how to avoid the allure of power and how to lead in an ethical and responsible way." After students spoke out, the university issued an apology for his communicating the topic "in a way so hurtful to many."

After Christine Blasey Ford testified under oath in 2018 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had tried to rape her at a party in 1982, McCrory argued that the alleged crime was just a youthful "party prank."

In September 2020, he objected to presidential candidates being asked about their past indiscretions without context. "If it happened in the White House Oval Office it's probably relevant. If it happened back during your college years, like during the Kavanaugh hearings, you know, when he was 17 years old at a high school party, really?"

But despite his disregard for the real discrimination and mistreatment women have long endured, McCrory — who is a straight white cisgender male — has framed himself as a true victim. When he failed to land a teaching position at Duke University, he likened the rejection to the racial discrimination Black people endured in the Jim Crow era. He bragged that he'd asked the head of the program, "If I come back to the campus, will you serve me at the lunch counter?"

After the 2016 release of the "Access Hollywood" tapes of Donald Trump boasting about being a serial sexual predator, McCrory initially denounced it. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the comments made by Donald Trump regarding women. I find them disgusting," he tweeted on Oct. 7.

His disgust was short-lived: Just a few weeks later, McCrory appeared with Trump at a joint campaign rally where Trump told voters, "You have a great governor. Support your governor. He's a great guy."

Now McCrory is running for the Republican nomination for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

Though Trump has endorsed Rep. Ted Budd in the primary, McCrory continues to present himself as the most pro-Trump candidate in the field.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.