This is not a post about Trump. However, that’s where we have to begin. You see, since news came out of his taped conversation with Billy Bush some 11 years ago, it’s all I’ve seen on social media. It’s nearly monopolized my brain, in fact. Which kind of pisses me off. I want to stop thinking about it, but I’m just so angry. Am I angry that Trump talked about women as if they are another property that can be managed, traded, upgraded, and acquired like some hostile takeover? Yes, I am, but the more I think about it, I’m not really as angry towards Trump as much as I am at the rest of us. Even myself. You see, this isn’t an indictment on Trump as much as it is on our culture. In fact, this is true for nearly every offensive thing Trump says or does.
I think this says as much about the American consciousness about women as it does about the man who said it. Maybe more so. If you don’t believe gender inequality is real, we only need to look at how it plays out in our society everyday. And I’m not talking about abortion or women politicians or equal pay or any of those things. This is much less obvious. It’s much more entrenched.
It’s our language and our excuses. Let’s be clear, this isn’t an issue solely at the feet of Republicans. Democrats have had their fair share of condescending, gender biased, chauvinistic actions and words. And that is exactly the point. There have been scandals a plenty.
I’ve heard the term “rape culture” more often in the last 48 hours than I have in the past two years combined, but it’s true. And on a more widespread scale, we have a clear patriarchal culture. Equality in our society is a myth. You need only look to the reactions of this one news story. Headlines and internet comments include such statements as “lewd comments”, “mean words”, “locker room talk.” No. That’s not what this is. This goes far beyond such innocuous labels.
In the actual recording Trump says, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful (women)— I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” Out of all the many things he said, this is the one in the conversation I find the most revolting. It’s not the vulgar language. I can handle that. This is what makes me come unglued.
This speaks to a mentality of entitlement. This speaks to a mindset of violating first, asking questions later. And we pardon it with “locker room talk”. As if any woman saying no is simply playing hard to get. This speaks to the very same mindset that Brock Turner demonstrated when he sexually assaulted a woman behind a dumpster in January 2015.
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Turner was a swimming star…..an Olympic hopeful. And he served 3 months of a 6 month sentence. And we feigned outrage then went on about our business. And now it’s “mean words” and “locker room talk.” It’s “boys being boys.”
And please understand….again, this is not about Trump and whether or not he is fit to be president. I will say again, this is not a lynching of Republicans or because I’m a “bleeding heart liberal.” I am well aware of Bill Clinton’s lack of moral fortitude. I know there were plenty of sexual misconduct, and, yes, rape allegations. I do not defend it. I do not minimize it. Deplorable. Every allegation deplorable. Every incident enraging.
I am, however, astonished at how his behaviors have now been shifted to place blame on his wife. The numbers of people who have emerged and decried Hillary denouncing this recording because of her marriage astonishes me. We have heard jokes about how his sexual misconduct is because she couldn’t “satisfy him” and memes of how his aging appearance is due to living with her. We say it is a double standard for her to call out this recording or any of Trump’s rumored philandering ways because of her own marriage. Somehow we have taken Bill’s exploits and removed his responsibility for such and placed them on the shoulders of the wife. There may be many, many, many things we could criticize about Hillary. How I long for the days of debates regarding Benghazi and emails, but a wife should never have to answer for or own the responsibility of a husband’s cheating. (And just for the record…. I believe if the wife cheats, the same should be said regarding blaming her husband.)
If this is, in fact, locker room talk, than it still cannot be defended. That is the equivalent of using racist epithets, but saying it’s okay because you were only in a room of white people.
We live in a society where young ladies are still taught that they have to be careful of what they wear as if men are simply helpless to resist the sorcery that is the female body. The media analyzes the clothing choices of female candidates without ever doing the same for male candidates. When a woman is sexually violated we often find the conversation leaning to whether or not she was intoxicated or if she “led him on.” Girls have their butts grabbed and we shake our finger at the boys that do it as if that’s a clear statement of disapproval. We tell young girls if a young boy calls you names or hits you then it’s because “he must like you.” And then when we try to speak up about how this is unequivocally wrong, we are told the world has just gotten too caught up in political correctness or that we’re too sensitive or emotional.
If you want to vote for Trump, go ahead. I’m not trying to change your mind. I can understand if one was concerned about the economy, one might look to a business tycoon for the answer. Certainly there are well-crafted arguments to explain your vote.
However, I will ask that when you speak of this recording do not dismiss it or try to be a volunteer spin doctor by starting with any kind of “but” statement…..”but Bill Clinton has done much worse….”, “but Hillary hates women too”. The variations are endless. And please, most of all, do not say, “let’s move on to the issues that really matter.” Sexual assault and the objectification of women is an issue that really matters.
Let’s just start with this was terrible and awful and perpetuates a rape culture and women’s victimization. And let’s examine our own jokes and posts and visceral reactions and make sure we do not propel such a society. Trust me, this isn’t about Trump. It’s much bigger than that. After all our elected leaders and our politics are merely a reflection of what we allow.