GOP and Political Privilege
Feeling icky about the most recent headlines featuring Donald Trump’s comments towards women? Me too. It’s always the discrepancy that gets me. Those with even the smallest inkling of insight know the feeling- the gaping hole between how you view the world and how others do. This is a common human experience. For me, it went something like this:
me: we are all equally beautiful human beings who have special talents and life stories i want to be a part of, both personally and professionally
trump: women are bitches, pigs, fat, bimbos, grab them by the pussy
It seems the longer the discomfort sits with me, I realize the more important the topic at hand is to me. Some things I chew on for awhile and never seem to fade. But this time was different. Even after reading Trump’s initial “apology but not an apology” and seeing his late-night scripted video “apology but not an apology round two,” I felt a troubling sense of apathy.
That feeling was only intensified after awakening Saturday morning and learning of the growing list of high-powered GOP establishment members withdrawing their support. Among the list of reasons cited for doing so in their various tweets and statements included words like disrespectful, profane, demeaning, disgusting, vile, disgraceful, appalling, predatory, and lewd. Trump’s comments in the 2005 video from the lost archives of Access Hollywood were simply considered unable to be justified. While I certainly cannot disagree with their distaste, I still felt icky on the inside.
As I try to do in response to information, events, or reactions, I asked myself a number of critical thinking type questions to gain a better understanding. Among others, perhaps the most question of all for me today was this:
Why does this bother me so much? Because he made objectifying, sexually aggressive comments about women and was proud of it. He also referenced his use of power and celebrity status as a reason for why women submit to him. This bothers me because I value women just as I do other human beings. This bothers me as a woman, fighting for my spot in a male-dominated world. This bothers me for the women who already feel broken from growing up in poverty, being in emotionally abusive relationships, and live in less-than-empowering environments. This bothers me because this is the information and messages that are internalized by young girls every day. This bothers me for the women who have experienced sexual assault and degradation….I could go on forever.
The brain storming session went on, hashing it out by myself and also with my spouse. But I came right back around to the same damned question-
Why does this still bother me so much?!
Because this is what it took for the GOP to stand up. Not the horrible, degrading, insulting comments over the past 16 months about Muslims, Mexicans, the parents of a war hero, women who have abortions, those with disabilities, female news anchors, or anyone else. No, this was the moment they chose to put their foot down- when it finally hit home for them. Many of those in the GOP who condemned, withdrew their support, or called for his stepping down relayed a personal story in defense of such: they have wives, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, etc.
But did you ever see them doing so when Trump made equally offensive comments about Muslims, Mexicans, or [enter minority group here]? That they had a Muslim neighbor or boss and this was unacceptable? That they had a Latino friend, spouse, or school peer who they care for and won’t stand for it?
Privilege is inherent and a moving target in life that requires ongoing self-reflection and maintenance; but the GOP’s ignorance is unforgivable in this case. When will we fight and stand up for the rest of the world, even if we think the issue doesn’t pertain to us directly? When will we stop being scared of the word privilege and learn more about ourselves and others?
The discrepancy is an uncomfortable place to be; but with it bears great fruit- personal growth and a better understanding of the world. The pain we feel to carry the burden of others’ ignorance is both a blessing and a curse; a privilege one might even say. Hold it steady and re-adjust as necessary.