Sex, Trump, & Videotape.
The thing is, Access Hollywood’s bombshell #TrumpTape is…not in gravity, but in relativity…akin to video of cops dealing viciously with unarmed black men. The footage itself is shocking, but the underlying issues are long-known and deeply entrenched, and the atrocious behavior widely reported — off-camera — All. The. Time. Which is to say, when it comes to decades-old professional PublicityWhore Donald J. Trump, we’ve seen his dealings with women, heard his comments about pageant contestants, and observed his pathological lashing out at any female that dares not smile his way. Thus, I found it bizarre just HOW shocked the politisphere and mediamundo seems that Donald Trump is a cavalier, cocky, crude, crotch-grabber, IRL. It’s like they found out Satan doesn’t go to church.
Yet shocked they are, the Scott Walkers, Paul Ryans, Reince Peebusses, and media outlets of the world. Why is this 11-year-old chance chit-chat distinct from every other horrid thing we’ve witnessed come out of this man’s mouth? Culturally, what makes it an Establishment Republican tipping point rather than just another tip of the iceberg? Is it the crass tone? The crass diction? The unexpected fraternal bonding with a Bush? A unique respect for Nancy O’Dell? Sex stuff is often problematic for candidates, of course, but we all know this election year has been anomalous both for its abundance of stomped-on land mines and their unprecedented impotence. Sex-wise, Trump 2016 endorsers obviously don’t give a hoo-hah about his notorious infidelities, or alleged rape of his ex-wife, or alleged rape of a 13-year-old, or dickscussing the size of his penis during a Presidential primary, or publicly having the hots for his daughter, or shaming a beauty queen into an eating disorder, or or or…. What line is suddenly around to cross? Maybe, suddenly, it seems all too real.
“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.” ― Gavin de Becker
I had read the gross transcript, wide-eyed and fascinated, but...the video was a different experience. A visceral experience. Watching those three minutes made me dizzy, and nauseous. Not because of the bus banter. Not because of the machismo. But because of the actress. The real, live, friendly, accomplished woman welcoming them to the lot. Because I have been that woman before, as have most post-pubescent females. Ready to do her job well, then immediately discerning that the vibe is not collegial, quickly trying to deflect suggestive man-tention with humor and/or logistics, hoping she doesn’t have to spend much time with a creep who looks at her like a recreational conquest and speaks straight from his loins, with no regard for professionalism or boundaries or age or status or plain old boring manners.
“Which one of us would you choose?” Billy Bush presses, three times, as she guides them to the set. She’s the trophy, he describes her in the bus like a trophy, he talks to her like a trophy, like so many men find acceptable, or even flattering. “Don’t you feel lucky that I find you attractive?” this type of man threatens with his eyes if you balk at the touch or the talk. And it’s your job to handle them, in whatever capacity; as student, as applicant, as colleague, as client, as customer. So, you adaptively stop thinking of yourself as an equal person, as a strong woman, as a feminist, and you play the role of nonchalant reactor. The only thing worse than this auto-minimization (though maybe it would be better in the long run, for one’s psyche), is if they didn’t deem you attractive at all, because then you would be ignored entirely. Sent to get coffee. Stared through when speaking. As charming object, you can at least accomplish a goal. A meeting. An interview. A deal. A promo. A dinner. Whatever. But however many minutes pass between passes, your reflexive acquiescence to the unspoken terms makes your gut twist, and your brain is on fire, feverish and crackling. You are embarrassed. In fact, you never tell your principal/boss/manager/team/HR because you are embarrassed. Trained well by the patriarchy of businessmen and male priorities, you are victim-blaming yourself. And it’s awful. Without being groped, or fondled, or even propositioned. Donald Trump hasn’t Tic-Tac-tongued you or anything; you are technically the same person you were when you arrived. Yet you feel small and sick and stupid and ashamed.
Which isn’t necessarily how that soap opera actress felt, but I promise you that she is practiced in the art of man-handling. She might be used to it, but she doesn’t like it. She’s pressured, on camera, to hug both of these men, who still emanate objectification afterglow from ogling her legs and her looks to each other on the bus without ever mentioning her name. She wasn’t going to hug them, but now she has, and she smoothly but uncomfortably cedes to their douche-y dialogue as they walk together down the corridor.
These are people I don’t know, on camera, for three minutes. And it still triggers my memories of similar objectification episodes, to the point of causing a tension headache and nervous, dry throat, today, now, years later.
Now, take this foundation of discomfort, and imagine, please, how it must feel to have a rich, smarmy narcissist force his perpetually puckered lips onto your mouth and shove his hand into your vagina upon meeting. Such a violation is not minor, emotionally or physically, and is traumatic, surely not soon forgotten. And it’s a felony. Imagine how it must feel to be in a room with him, as a woman, alone, if these are the comments and admissions to which we are haphazardly privy. Imagine if unintentionally alluring Nancy O’Dell hadn’t been married. Could she effectively rebuff a celebrity, in her line of work? Would she have been afforded the option to decline his dogged advances if there were no ring on her finger, denoting a man-based, socially acceptable excuse for not getting fucked on demand? And if the answer is so much as “Maybe,” is this a man who should hold the most powerful office in the world?
When people show you who they are, believe them. — Maya Angelou
In July 2015, when he first announced his candidacy, many Americans knew Donald Trump as a Reality TV-fueled, dubiously coiffed, ostentatious, birth-records-skeptical, real estate mogul-shaped question mark. Fine. (To paraphrase They Might Be Giants, we were young and foolish then, we feel old and foolish now.) Much of the country — but particularly leaders of the Republican Party — have been in denial about The Donald’s true nature, through a 15-month roller coaster of gasp-worthy racist rhetoric; casual discussion of killing civilian families of alleged terrorists; a Third Reich-style implied hierarchy of religions; ennui toward facts and knowledge and complexity and repercussions; the masturbatory admiration for a manipulative tyrant in Vladimir Putin; the purposeful proliferation of paranoia to undermine truth and democracy; and direct and obvious deceit, of every type and every depth, in every direction, all as part of a fiction- and fear-based (accidental) campaign strategy. Good TV. Low stakes!
But, ahem. Now, it’s October 8th. One month until it’s all over, for better or for worst-ever. The alarm is sounding. Hillary-haters, suburban optimists, “true” conservatives: Time to believe that this seemingly ignorant, shallow, selfish, bigoted, chauvinistic, volatile, amoral, cheating, narcissistic, violent, world-class asshole…is (drumroll)…an ignorant, shallow, selfish, bigoted, chauvinistic, volatile, amoral, cheating, narcissistic, violent, world-class asshole. And guess what, he finds this country ultra-attractive and wants to fuck us, our parents, our children, and our neighbors, real bad. But we have played nice long enough. So, women of America: listen for those Tic-Tacs. That’s our cue to kick him right. in. the. electoral. balls. If we hit him hard enough, and scream in his face, he’ll stay down. And if they have a modicum of self-respect, GOP leaders won’t even bring him an ice pack.