Why we should thank Donald Trump
Despite how fed up you might feel about this insane circus of an election cycle, it hasn’t been a total loss. And despite how you might feel about Donald J., he has given us a gift that will likely last long after his billowy image fades.
Yes, I’m admitting that Trump’s campaign was a good thing. He gave us one thing that we can genuinely thank him for.
I think it is a good thing that we got to hear Trump’s “locker room” chat with Billy “Bushie” Bush. I’m also glad he chalked the whole episode up to “locker room talk.” I’m glad because this is an issue that’s bothered me for a while and never seems to get talked about. It’s isn’t just common for men (or boys I should say) to disparage women in front of other guys; it’s an institution.
Bragging about sexual conquests, airing the dirty laundry of the “slut” and judging women based on their looks is more than something that happens, it’s something that is enforced. I’ve often felt that a lot of the guys that say these types of things don’t really believe what they say, but rather say it because they’re pressured. Disparaging women is seen as a sign of being a “real man.” Forget responsibilities, honor, and honesty. Insulting women is a bonding experience for many.
Defending women is seen as an affront to the male gender, a sign of the “wussification” of America. It works in concert with the idea that our nation is becoming too P.C. When people make these types of claims, they’re not only saying that we should be able to insult each other, but that we should be encouraged to insult each other.
Many will shrug Trump’s comments off as a minor issue. That might be the case if only those women were subjected to that kind of vile objectification. But anyone who’s lived for 18 years has seen this kind of degradation of women. Dismissing Trump’s comments means dismissing all of the disrespect aimed toward women that you’ve heard in your life. And if you’re a living, breathing, human being, you’ve likely heard a lot.
I drive Uber during the week and I get to talk to all different types of people, which makes it an interesting gig. Living in a college town, I’ve had my share of douchy college kids. Some of them are sweet, chill, and as friendly as can be. But once in a while I’ll get a car-load of testosterone fueled guys, hammered after a night at the bars. Their conversations never cease to be disturbing. Girls are called out by name, matched with their sexual specialty, all with the explicit description of a Dicken’s novel. I can remember one comment in particular: She likes bricks on her chest, the guy said to his friends. I’ll give you a minute to figure out the euphemism…The guy then went on to describe another girl who likes to give oral sex. His speech was capped off by his friends all declaring that “she’s such a slut.” I’m sure these guys also enjoyed oral sex and probably don’t mind the bricks either. Yet she was labeled a slut while they were just being guys.
And there’s the problem. We accept that men are sexual creatures. They prey on your daughters, they slip roofies in your drink. We tell out daughters that they need to be careful around strange men. Colleges orientations include presentations on how not to get raped. Yet we never seem to question the madness of having to provide education on how not to get date raped. Instead we chock it up to “guys being guys” and tell the girls not to leave their drink unattended and to always have a friend nearby.
We enable this kind of rape culture by tolerating the casual disrespect towards women, such as Trump’s remarks. Will guys who talk this way turn out to be rapists? For most, of course not. Like I said, most talk this way because it’s expected of them. But for others, it’s the first step on a ladder leading to assault. First, we dehumanize the other, then we feel that it’s acceptable to take advantage.
The effects of “locker room” talk
Maybe you think I’m being too dramatic. It’s just words, Trump said following the leaks. But words can destroy just as much as physical violence. Anyone who’s been subject to discrimination can tell you this. In fact, it seems that the people who most often use the “just words” argument have never actually had to endure discrimination in their own lives.
The story of Felicia Garcia and countless others show where“just words” can lead. Garcia was a 15 year-old Staten Island high schooler who was habitually called a “slut” and was regularly harassed in school. After enduring this torment, she threw herself in front of a train. Days before the tragedy, she told friends that she was “done.”
I thought about Felicia Garcia when I listened to those college students talk about how that girl liked “bricks on her chest.” I imagined the word getting out, the entire dorm knowing about this girl’s (gasp) enjoyment of sex. What would happen when everyone knew her intimate secrets?
Another question is what would those guys feel if she actually did something drastic. Would they care? Would they learn? Would they still maintain that they were “just words?”
As creepy as it was to hear that our next potential president might be a sexual predator, Trump’s buffoonery is a good thing. He brought the conversation to the fore. We now have to accept that there is a problem with how we view women. What might have been cast off as trivial is now being taken seriously. This is not PC-culture run amok. It is a call for women to demand equal respect, and it’s shocking that it took this long to occur.