Monday, October 10, 2016

Locker Room

     Looking back through my blog posts as far as last December, I was talking about the danger of Donald Trump's rhetoric.  Friends and family told me not to worry; he'd never go the distance, they said.  Here we sit, less than one month before the election with a second "debate" in the bag, and he's still here.  He can continue to say heinous things - often without any facts to back them up - more and more of his supporters are turning away, and now we get further proof of his character with the 2005 audio/video released on Friday.
     I had hoped that at the beginning of the debate when he was asked outright about his words by Anderson Cooper that he would be contrite:

"You described kissing women without their consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?"
"No, I didn't say that at all," Trump said. "I don't think you understand what was said. This was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. I apologized to my family. I apologized to the American people."  

The exchange went back and forth for several minutes with Trump trying to change the topic to the Islamic State before Cooper was finally able to ask for the record if Trump had done these things, had sexually assaulted women. Trump said no.
     What we learned from the 2005 audio/video that was released is the true content of Donald Trump's character. He is a man with great power who feels that he can and should take what he wants from women. These sentiments come from a rape culture that has grown fat on misogyny.  Sexual assault and rape are acts perpetuated out of power and dominance.  We know this to be fact. This isn't locker room talk - which is insulting on so many levels.  That comes from the old "boys will be boys" mythos, which insults every decent, honorable man on this planet.  Normal humans do not talk about doing things against the wills of other humans.  That is sexual assault.  Misogyny is not going to go away if we get a female president, just as racism didn't magically disappear when President Obama came into office.
     All women have a story to tell about the misogyny they've experienced in their lives, you just need to listen.  I can't go into all of my stories, even though you've heard a fair number through this blog, because my children read this, and I'm not at a point where I can tell them everything.  But in the interest of honesty and trying to advance the cause of women, and thereby humanity, I will share some it.
     As you may remember, my father was a terrible man.  He was an alcoholic who routinely battered, belittled and assaulted my mother. He consistently told her that she was ugly, stupid and that no one else would have her.  And he told me that I, the eldest, was just like her.  Marital rape didn't become a crime in all 50 states until 1993 - think about that for a minute - and my mother was often subjected to this and other crimes.  I know this to be a fact, because all three of us children were present for one of the instances in 1984.
     In junior high and high school, I played soccer. My school only had a boys team, and I didn't care anyway, so I played with them.  I originally went to the football meeting, thinking I could be a kicker, but the coach laughed me out of the room, telling me no little girls were allowed.  On the soccer team, I was one of three girls and was constantly taunted and picked on by the boys.  Their favorite nickname for me was scrotum.  The coaches knew, but never stopped it, hoping I think that I would just quit. I used to think that it was because I wasn't good enough, so I tried harder.  It didn't change though.  I had to play without my glasses, something the boys would take advantage of in practice.  My glasses were held together by hot glue, and I couldn't risk breaking them. My brother played for the team for a short time, and they never did it in front of him. (Side note - I did get a scholarship to play soccer for Bridgewater College in Virginia, but it was a partial and I couldn't afford the full tuition so I had to decline. So, I clearly didn't suck.)
     When I got my first job at 14, the restaurant I bused tables at had a waiter who was known to sexually harass the female staff. The management knew but did nothing. He liked to back me into an alcove where the supplies were stored and try to rub up against me. I had to learn to avoid him at all costs. I also learned that if you tried to complain, your pay got docked for dinners that you were supposed to take but were never given the time to take. I didn't work there long, as I didn't think I could tell my mother what was bothering me so much. By this point, my father was gone, and she was under enough stress.
     The first time I was sexually assaulted I was 15. I will not go into it except to say, it was a boyfriend who tried to guilt me into a variety of things. I refused. He insisted. I refused. He forced me. Then he told me that it wasn't that big of a deal, and a number of other things that even as I try to write them make me feel gross, so I'll leave it at that.
     Throughout my work life, I've walked through so much misogyny it's almost laughable. I've had vendors tell me I was taking a job from a man who needed it when I was a receiving manager, had delivery drivers give me unending shit, been called all manner of names and epithets, had male customers ask where the real manager was when I showed up and have had a male boss tell me he'd never promote me until my kids weren't little anymore since my loyalties would be divided. There's so much more, but honestly, after a while it's exhausting.  Ask the women in your life.  It's an everyday thing.
     What's not everyday though is when the misogyny escalates to the attitude that Donald Trump has displayed.  It's not locker room talk.  Men don't gather together and discuss the women that they'll take by force without consent.  There are bad men out there, men with treacherous character and horrible morals.  We would not tolerate them in our lives or with our children. We should not tolerate them to lead our country.  

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