Americans: This election year cannot get any weirder.
God: Send in the clowns.
For all my activism, I try not to use this forum as a soapbox – this has always been meant as a blog for women, our only common denominator the ways we navigate middle age and our shared interests and quirks.
But the recent events that are dragging this election season lower and lower into a mud pit would tempt a saint. I feel compelled to comment on the recent video that surfaced of Donald Trump making disparaging and demeaning comments about women: not because, as women, we should feel offended (I am sure we all are) but because, according to Mr. Trump himself, and to many of his supporters, condoning “locker room banter” is par for the course.
I am personally offended, not by the language (as coarse as it is), or even the subject matter (even if boys will be boys, in 2016, doesn’t have a leg to stand on any longer) but by the sense of entitlement on the part of a man who is rich, successful and powerful. A predator.
I am offended by the objectification of women, rated and lined up as mannequins to choose from.
I am offended by how women can still be talked about behind their backs as if they were a piece of merchandise that is dissected, commented upon and tried on before deciding on a purchase.
It was not two men discussing an escapade, a romance or even a sex act, as reproachful as that might be. It was one egomaniac boasting of his sexual prowess, his appetites and the ease of getting what he wants, bordering on sexual assault, and one idiot going along, encouraging, to please his guest. Silent.
And what of the actress with the “nice legs” who is just trying to get through one more work day on a mindless soap opera set? What of the married woman who wouldn’t give in to Mr. Trump’s advances, who is “now done up, with fake tits and all”? What of the dignity and respect they are entitled, if not as women, as human beings?
I am also offended on behalf of all the good men out there, famous, rich, powerful or otherwise, who wouldn’t dream of thinking of a woman, any woman, in those terms, who don’t engage in locker room banter. I am offended on behalf of all those athletes whose locker room banter doesn’t involve talk of sexual assault.
This latest episode shouldn’t turn away just the female electorate. This is not a feminist issue.
It should turn away anyone with a modicum of respect for a fellow human being; anyone who wouldn’t dream of mocking a disabled person; anyone who abhors, or is even mildly uncomfortable with, discrimination; anyone who would never dream of “grabbing a pussy”.
I do believe Mr. Trump has genuinely been supportive of some women. I do believe he thinks his daughters can be whomever they choose to be. But I also believe he divides women in categories: those who belong to his gilded tribe, those he can have when he feels like it and those who, to him, don’t rate high enough to exist.
Last night’s debate (if we can call debate one person cogently putting forth policy matters and the other mouthing random words in no particular order, more intent on bullying his opponent) was a sad and low point for American democracy. It was so painful to watch, my stomach was in knots.
As a new democracy not yet mired in complacency, the United States has reached that breaking point when a sizable part of its population is ready to slam the door in the face of career politicians. I get it. But to entrust it to a bully? An incompetent reality tv star with not even a mild grasp of the basic issues? A man so insecure to boast of his sexual appetites? A man who would grab your pussy? Oh wait, no, he wouldn’t. Because most of us wouldn’t even rate “grab worthy” according to his sorting metrics.
As Lyndy West eloquently says in this brilliant opinion piece, as women, we have all known that man. Probably more than one. In the workplace, in a bad relationship, riding the bus. THAT man is now running for President. For all of you who broke free of that man, who stood up to him, time to do it again. And for those of you who couldn’t, now is your chance.