WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE IN VIDEO
Donald Trump’s Comments on a hot mic published yesterday by The Washington Post revealed something much more than the obviously misogynistic Republican nominee we have all seen from day one of his campaign. Trump, both in life before and since the beginning of his political aspirations, has shown himself as a man who objectifies women based on their “hotness.” Even his own daughter is not immune to his degrading comments.
However, this October Surprise shows something more than mere misogyny. What Trump describes is not just about admiring beautiful women by use of vulgar language. He describes his sense of entitlement to those women, even if they are married, even if HE is married. By his own words, Trump believes that being a celebrity gives him all the permission he needs to kiss a woman without her consent and, far worse, grab her by the genitals. He literally says he can do anything he wants. That is sexual assault. This man, a man who is a breath away from the Oval Office, who is the Republican Party nominee for the President of the United States of America, is not only condoning sexual assault, but bragging about it. This is more than women being objectified, belittled or even humiliated. This is evidence of systemic rape culture in our society.
I have seen some puzzling and disturbing posts from people, sadly including women, who justify or attempt to whitewash Trump’s actions. One of the more disturbing was from a woman supporting Trump who said,
“…so he likes beautiful women. A lot of men do, so what?”
Well, here is the, “so what.” Sexual attraction is normal. It is okay to be attracted to someone, in fact, attraction is a series of chemical reactions in your body that you can’t really control. What you find attractive is most frequently influenced by your culture, but there are certain things which are unique from person to person. So, being attracted to beautiful women is perfectly normal. How a man reacts to those attractions define his character. But this is more than attraction. Sexual assault is not about sex. Sexual assault is about dominance, control and power. When Donald J. Trump talks about just doing whatever he wants, he is not talking about being so attracted to a woman that he just gets so horny he can’t help his actions. (Which would be seriously disturbing even if it were the case.) He IS talking about seeing something of value and his determination to possess it, and his feeling of entitlement to do so.
People, ANYONE, who dismisses Trump’s behavior is part of the problem. They are willingly promoting the subjugation and violence against women. Period. If you do not believe me, if you are one of these people, then ask yourself:
- Can a man, celebrity or not, who thinks I am attractive just kiss me and grab my “pussy” if he wants to?
- Can a man do this to my daughter?
- Can a man do this to my wife?
- Can a man do this to my mother?
- Can a man do this to my granddaughter?
- Can a man do this to my friend?
- Can a man do this to my aunt?
- Can a man do this to my sister?
- Can a man do this to my cousin?
- Should a man be allowed to do this to anyone?
- Is a man entitled to do whatever he wants just because he is attracted to beautiful?
This idea that men get a frees pass as , “boys will be boys,” and that they are not responsible for their behavior because it is the wicked woman’s fault for just being too attractive is the very basis of rape culture acceptance in our society. If you said no to any of those questions, but you are dismissing what Trump has done, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE. Period. YOU are part of the problem in our society. If you, for any reason, justify Trump’s vulgar descent into the self-description of a sexual predator, then you are part of the reason why women feel unsafe doing anything by themselves, like shopping, walking to their car, jogging or walking or even living alone. You are part of the reason why rapists receive a slap on the wrist for a few, “minutes of action.” You are part of the reason why a rapist’s college experience is more important than the violent crime they committed against another human being. You are justifying the exploitation and dehumanization of victims. You fit every possible definition of deplorable.
There is a list of sexual harassment, attempted rape and statutory rape allegations leveled against the Republican nominee. Most have been largely dismissed in the public eye as political opportunism. While everyone can agree Trump is frequently rude and crass and a known philanderer, no one really wanted to believe he was that horrible. This revelation, in his own words, about himself, lends credibility to those claims. It means they need to be revisited and re-evaluated with the knowledge of Trump’s mindset, his belief that he could just kiss and grab a woman or, “do anything,” he wants because he is a celebrity.
Oh, but the evidence of our rape culture did not end with that video and audio. As if adding insult to injury, Trump released a so-called apology.
While Trump’s ‘apology’ states that what he said was wrong, it also attempts to dismiss the action as a distraction from real issues. He tried to distance himself from the comments because he said them over a decade ago, claiming he has since been humbled by meeting so many people across the country in his campaign. Finally, he does what Trump so commonly does when faced with his own transgressions, egregious Rationalization.
Egregious rationalizations intended to deflect blame can also take the form of ad hominem attacks or DARVO. Some rationalizations take the form of a comparison. Commonly this is done to lessen the perception of an action’s negative effects, to justify an action, or to excuse culpability:
- “At least [what occurred] is not as bad as [a worse outcome].”
- In response to an accusation: “At least I didn’t [worse action than accused action].”
- As a form of false choice: “Doing [undesirable action] is a lot better than [a worse action].”
He claims his actions aren’t so bad in comparison to his allegations against the Clintons. He justifies himself by claiming there is worse. So, in his so-called apology, he attempts to sidestep responsibility by minimizing his actions in comparison. But you cannot minimize being a sexual predator. You cannot minimize your desire to physically dominate women and reduce them to objects of property or ownership. Trump’s apology is equivalent to a rapist defending his actions by saying something like – “Well, yeah she was so hot I couldn’t help myself and I couldn’t stop and I’m really sorry. But, some guys would have just killed her and I didn’t. That man, Darrell Gurule, raped and shot a woman. That is really terrible.” Except, in this example, Darrell Gurule was actually convicted of his crimes with direct forensic evidence, whereas, Trump’s allegations against the Clintons are mostly based on conspiracy theories and innuendo. You will not see me ever praising the philandering of Bill Clinton, by no means. But you cannot justify you own admissions of sexual assault by citing the infidelity (or even the factual actions) of anyone else. Why?
Well, as obvious as that answer should be, it actually has deeper implications than the obvious. First, it is about being responsible for your own actions. Bill Clinton didn’t make Trump act like he did, nor did Hillary. No one else made Trump say what he did. No one else is responsible for Trump’s belief that being a star entitles him to whatever beautiful woman he sees. But the deeper problem with rationalization is that it lends acceptance to those actions. It says that they are not uncommon and, therefore, are not so grievous. When you are talking about something as horrible as sexual assault, this is the very basis of rape culture, from the most powerful person in the Republican Party, a person one election away from nominating and appointing like minded judges and cabinet members. Is someone of Donald Trump’s temperament likely to appoint anyone to any position of authority who has, does or would condemn him in any way for any action without first securing complete dominance over them? How can we possibly continue the fight against rape culture with a president who has marginalized the actions which support it? With a president who is, by his own admission, a sexual predator? We can’t.
Make no mistake, even though Trump begins his apology with stating that he never claimed to be perfect, do not forget that he has also claimed he doesn’t believe he has done anything he needs to ask God forgiveness for. So, until he was caught, he didn’t think this behavior particularly wrong. Trump does not regret his actions. One of his first comments after the release of the video was that Bill Clinton had said worse with him on the golf course. That is not remorse. He apologizes because he has to, but there is no sincerity, there is no remorse, there is no contrition. All you see is thinly veiled anger that he is being forced to humiliate himself for actions he goes on to rationalize and minimize. All women are now the victim of his harassment.
We are One Woman, One World.
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