This is what I imagine my face looked like while I was watching the leaked Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump and Billy Bush:
Mostly disgusted, less shocked that something that vile could come out of Trump’s mouth, and cheered for by Bush, who has always seemed like a closet slimeball to me. Perhaps I was more disgusted than shocked because of a personal experience I had being “grabbed by the pussy” at a crowded house party in college. I felt someone walking past me cup my crotch and slide his fingers up the front of my jeans. When I registered the very weird and extremely creepy thing that had happened I whipped around in outrage to find who I assumed was the culprit smirking at me. I didn’t even know who he was, and I doubt he knew who I was – doubt he even attached a personality to the genitalia he felt entitled to help himself to.
Feminists keep being told our anger is unfounded, that sexism is a thing of the past. Well, clearly it isn’t. Trump tried to excuse his behavior by calling it “locker room talk.” Where to begin?
- Trump was not a pimply teenage boy trying to impress the captain of the football team with tales of the gang bang he got in on over the weekend. HE WAS AN ADULT BUSINESSMAN WHO IS NOW RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
- Not only was he not in a locker room, but he was AT WORK, surrounded by colleagues and crew he presumably hadn’t met before. People with recording equipment. Yet he thought the things he was saying were general audience appropriate.
- Sadly I agree with what Kit Hoover said yesterday on Access Hollywood – that comments like Trump’s can perhaps be heard in today’s locker rooms. (Although she made the comment with a shrug and proceeded to turn the conversation to what a great person Billy Bush is…) But that doesn’t make it okay. That makes sexism alive and well and means we have serious work to do teaching our boys to be decent men.
But maybe we have made some progress. Hoover aside, I’ve been heartened by some of the responses to the video scandal. It’s a scandal! When put in the spotlight, a lot of people do find the kind of behavior Trump and Bush engaged in unacceptable. Several professional athletes have taken offense to Trump’s use of the term “locker room talk,” saying that “immature” players might brag about sexual conquests, but no one brags about assault. And Bush has been indefinitely suspended from his new gig on the Today Show. A number of Republicans withdrew their support for Trump after the video was released, and Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls went up.
Whether they’re conscious of it or not, the primary reason a lot of those people support this neanderthal over perhaps the most qualified candidate in history is because the act they find unacceptable is not disrespecting a woman, objectifying a woman, or assaulting a woman – it’s putting a woman in the White House.