My father always taught me to respect women. I open doors for women, call them “ma’am” (women from 18 to 80—for Southerners this word isn’t about age), make sure not to rudely walk in front of them, and many other basic things that today might be considered old-fashioned, or certain types of feminists might insist makes me part of an oppressive patriarchy, or something.
Regardless, growing up—whether it was politically or chronologically correct or not—the worst thing my brother or I could do was disrespect our mother, sister or any woman.
This doesn’t mean men in my family didn’t use coarse language (women too). Most of my male friends do this (female friends too). Many men say things in the presence of other men that they might not in the presence of women (women obviously do this with other women too).
The maturity level in what’s said in these types of usually uncouth private conversations probably varies greatly depending on what’s said and who’s saying it. High school boys are probably the worst, though these days, 60-year-old billionaire reality TV stars seem to surpass even sophomoric teens.
There is such a thing as “locker room banter” that many men use, and that Donald Trump now uses as a defense of his crude comments from 2005 revealed by the Washington Post on Friday.
It’s no defense.
The biggest problem with this latest controversy isn’t the language. It’s Trump’s attitude toward women. It’s how he thinks men should treat women.
Saying you seduce women by moving “on her like a bitch” and walk up and “grab them by the pussy” and can get away with it because you’re famous—this is something very different and more deplorable than merely cursing or even objectification.
Most men don’t behave like this. Those who do are usually arrested. Or should be.
There’s a difference between mere words and imposing yourself on someone, usually weaker, physically. There’s a difference between mere political incorrectness and something closer to rape. There’s a difference in being crude and using your power to sexually intimidate others.
Yes, many men use locker room language, but most don’t talk like Donald Trump does, or with the same malicious intent he described.
Trump’s hot mic comments show us a man who really just doesn’t think much of women. We already knew this from his many controversial comments, past and present, over the course of this election. But these most recent comment revelations take Trump from mere sexist to potential perpetrator.
Even if what he said was supposed to be a joke, it didn’t sound like he was joking. I’m trying to think as I write this, of the drunkest chaotic situations I’ve been in, particularly with just guys present, where some of the same words or phrases might have been used. After all, I’ve heard both men and women use the “p” word most of my adult life.
But not with the same intent in how Trump used it. Not within the disturbing context of how he says he stalks and manhandles the opposite sex.
There is such a thing as locker room language, but there is also sexual assault—and the existence of the first doesn’t excuse advocating the second. That’s a cop-out. The fact that the current Democrat presidential nominee’s husband has been accused of much worse isn’t an excuse either.
Saying #BillClintonIsARapist isn’t a remotely morally coherent defense of Trump.
Donald Trump doesn’t respect women and we now know this to a more disturbing degree than we did prior. That’s why this latest controversy is resonating in ways others haven’t. That’s why so many Americans are now questioning more than ever if this is the kind of man they want to be the next president of the United States.