So Donald Trump was recorded saying vulgar, awful comments [Content Warning: Vulgar Language] about women in 2005. In other news, water is wet.
What I am finding fascinating is the fallout from this recording. The rightful rancor towards Trump that it’s bringing out. 1) Is anyone actually surprised that he said these things? He’s made vulgar, offensive comments about women, on record throughout his campaign. 2) The fallout is highlighting some truly gross aspects of our society and culture, though I am grateful that the conversation is happening. This latest “revelation” is forcing a frank discussion about rape culture and our society’s values.
What I find interesting is these comments are apparently a tipping point for Republicans. Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals (racism) at the onset of his campaign, something that should have disqualified him then and there? That wasn’t a dealbreaker. Mocking a disabled reporter (ableism)? Didn’t disqualify him. Inciting actual violence, which was carried out, at his rallies? Didn’t disqualify him. He’s made statements that are borderline treasonous and was still in the running, with Republican endorsements. He is millions of dollars in debt to foreign interests and won’t release his tax returns. He dog whistled violence against his opponent and the response from Paul Ryan was “”It sounds like a joke gone bad,” Ryan noted. “You should never joke about that. I hope he clears it up quickly.” I’m not going to go through the litany of over the top actions and statements this man has made that in any other time or place would have him castigated and censured but now he’s said that he uses his power and fame to sexually assault women and that’s what’s got people fired up.
And I’d like to look at that, for a sec and what it says about our country and where we go from here. We already knew that Trump uses his male, white privilege to demean women. Fat women. Minority women. Lesbian women. Women who stand up to him. What is it about these comments that have people bristling?
It has something to do with the type of women Trump would “grab the pussy” of. To use his lingo, the “10s”. We know what Trump’s type is, for better or for worse. And now we have proof that he is A-OK with assaulting those women, though, once again, wasn’t that pretty obvious already? The response that I’m seeing “You don’t speak of the wimmins that way” strikes me as saturated in an larger narrative of patriarchal sexism rooted in “protecting the 10s wimmins virtue.” Women deserve to be treated with respect because they are humans. Not because they are married, look a certain way, share your religion, race, abilities, or the sexuality or gender expression you approve of. Not because you view them as an extension of yourself — a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother. Women do not need to be championed and revered, what we need is to be treated as having worth because of our inherent humanity.
Trump’s revolting tweets about Alicia Machado at 3 AM? Calling Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig? Referring to Megyn Kelly’s professional response to his behavior at the primary debates as being related to “bleeding from her whatever?” Crickets from the right, as an example. But now, suddenly, his statements aren’t acceptable? Yeah, I see racist, ablist, homophobic sexism in that. He says he tried to fuck a married, “10” woman and that’s unacceptable? But slut shaming, body shaming, racist bullshit isn’t? I call foul.
And then there’s the response of “Well, Bill Clinton is a sexual predator and Hillary supported him in that”. I think that is, in fact, true. Not necessarily in the tin-foil hat ways that are being propagated by Breitbart followers, I think Bill is a sexual predator, a “creep” and Hillary tacitly allowed that behavior to occur. That also speaks to sexism and rooted in a larger narrative of how we view male and female sexuality, in our society.
Sexism and misogyny are not the same thing, though they are conflated. That all misogyny is sexism but not all sexism is misogyny. Trump is a misogynist. He hates women, objectifies them and behaves in a way that is profoundly sexist. His ex-wife alleged that he viciously raped her and tore out her hair. Bill Clinton? The way Bill Clinton speak about women isn’t disrespectful. He is one of those men who, to quote Jay from Jay & Silent Bob “loves the pussy” and the women who have one.
Sexist, to be sure, but not misogynistic. If the defense of Trump is that this is “just locker room talk”, then there is a profound disconnect between the above naughty language and chuckling over assaulting women because you can get away with it.
Back the the inherent sexism of blaming Hillary for Bill’s sexism and sexual behavior. The predominate narrative of sexual relations between hetero folks in our society is that men who get a lot of “pussy” are virile, strong, go-getters. Women, and the people around them (Paul Ryan’s statement), are to protect their virtue at all costs and are demeaned if they do not. Hillary has spent her entire adult life working her ass off to lift up women, around the world. She is also very cognizant of the systems in our society that oppress women and has decided to work within that system to improve the lives of women, minorities, the disabled, LGBTQAI folks everywhere, the Human of New York post illustrates that position.
You can argue the validity of that position day in and day out but that’s the tack she’s taken, up to and including, her marriage to Bill Clinton. Castigating Rodham Clinton for not calling Bill out or leaving him — let’s look at the sexist system around that choice. She could have called him out and left him. Within our current system, that would have set her back politically. Or she could do what she did; which is work within the sexist system we have to keep moving forward in her career.
I agree the system is convoluted and flawed, but in different ways then people who defend Trump. I do not think that the choices she’s had are demonstrative of a healthy society and this is just one glaring example of that. Folks don’t like that Hillary works within the sick system, I don’t fault them for that, however, she does that because she can get things done when she does.
Lastly, as we freak out that Trump confirmed what we already knew, let’s not forget Pence, who is waiting in the wings. That man is shrewd, he also knows the system and has proven, in his time in Indiana,that he hates women, minorities, the disabled and the LGBTQAI, thinks they are “less than” and has actually passed legislation to oppress and demean those populations. He’s attempting a long con, no doubt. It could be 2020 or he’s banking on Trump getting knocked down sooner and stepping in. It could potentially go any number of ways. Pence concerns of me because Trump, in all his blustering awful demeanor, is going to have difficulty getting things done as President. He doesn’t understand politics or government, isn’t going to listen to his advisors and Congress is going to be hostile against him. Pence? Pence has shown that he can get his revolting legislation passed. Trump has pulled back the curtain on absolutely revolting ideology and behavior and emboldened it, that’s not going anywhere and Pence, or any number of other Republicans can polish that hatred turd into destructive legislation.
This election is a shit show and it’s pulled back the curtain on a culture and society that has had a festering wound of hatred for too long. Hatred has no place in our society. Demeaning people who are different than us has no place. Lifting up certain populations, at the expense of others, is not what I believe this country stand for. We have a lot of work to do, folks, if we’re going to make America, not “Great Again” but better than what it currently is. I believe, despite the shit show that we’ve become inured to this election cycle, that America is still a great but deeply flawed nation and I’M WITH HER.