I can’t say I was surprised when I read about Trump’s conversation with Billy Bush about Trump’s sense of entitlement to sexually assault women. I was more curious to read about how his supporters would react to the news. Even though I am still amazed people support Trump, I can’t say I was surprised by some of the reactions I read either.
Comments seem to support this offensive notion that his “banter” was harmless “locker room talk”.
Locker room talk? I've never heard words like that in a locker room. Respect for others is not something you turn off behind closed doors.
— Daniel Brennan (@danielbrennan) October 7, 2016
I thought about why supporters would excuse this latest illustration of Trump’s unsuitability to be president and I came up with two possible reasons.
Reason 1: Trump supporters believe women are sex things
Trump speaks about women as objects to satisfy his urges. He can grab them and kiss them because he has the urge to do it and because he is a celebrity.
It doesn’t matter that they may not:
- want his attention;
- want to be sexually assaulted;
- care that he is wealthy (apparently);
- have any interest in him at all; and/or
- some other reason that wouldn’t occur to him because he has no sense of a world outside his ego.
People who support Trump and excuse his behaviour either don’t have wives or daughters or they have grown up with the same sense that women are no different to their toys and can be handled as they wish.
I happen to have both a beautiful wife and a young daughter and the thought that some self-entitled toad could attack them like this because he feels his status gives him permission infuriates me. Who made Trump a feudal lord?
It is only a matter of time before Trump trots out the old favorite: “She was asking for it, just look at how she was dressed/looked/looked in my general direction”. And you know what, his supporters will shrug off even more “locker room” talk and go back to bashing the enemy of the moment.
I can’t imagine why women would support a man who has so little regard for them as human beings with basic dignity, unless its for the next reason.
Reason 2: Trump has money and influence
As much as I don’t want to go down this road, it remains a possibility.
Why else would Trump supporters excuse his perception of women as objects to use to satisfy his urges? Why would anyone elect such an offensive toad to the highest office in their country if they don’t share his attitudes unless they are in awe of his wealth and influence?
Perhaps these supporters believe his status entitles him to behave like this (although they probably agree with Trump’s attack on Bill Clinton even though Bill Clinton is also wealthy and was once president for two terms). Perhaps Trump’s supporters believe that, by permitting his “locker room” talk and condoning his “just a guy” behaviour, they may benefit from his wealth and status?
I’m tempted to use the term “gold digger” but there is no need to dig. Trump is pretty flamboyant with his wealth. If you have seen photos of his penthouse, you can’t help but be dazzled by the sheer amount of gold covering just about everything.
I don’t think even the Palace of Versailles is as gaudy as the Palace of Trump.
The little things Trump supporters won’t notice
Even if you forget about all the other stuff Trump has come up with in the course of his election campaign, this latest news tells you a lot about the character of this poor example of a man.
His apparent apology for his remarks culminated in a renewed attack on Bill Clinton’s alleged golf course confessions to Trump. He also launched an attack on Hillary Clinton because, well, what apology for despicable behaviour is complete if you don’t try spread the shame a little?
Here is my statement. pic.twitter.com/WAZiGoQqMQ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2016
Trump’s comments about Bill Clinton having “abused women” and his early comments about Mexicans being “rapists” reminded me of a behaviour called “mirroring” or “projection” where a person sees qualities in other people that he is reluctant to see in himself. Most of us probably do this (I know I do) and it is a wonderful self-awareness device.
I seriously doubt that Trump would see his repeated allegations that people he doesn’t like are rapists is a projection of his own behaviour. I doubt very much he possesses the capability for self-awareness. The people he accuses may not be innocent but the intensity of his rhetoric tells me more about his subconscious perception of himself.
One of the many wonderful expressions I have learned in Hebrew is “?מה לעשות” which translates into “what to do?”. It is usually accompanied by both hands being raised into the air and an expression of resignation and sadness.
Supporting Trump despite his comments is an act of tremendous short-sightedness. If the Groper-in-Chief is elected, he will signal that this behaviour is acceptable to, well, everyone. South Africa learned the hard way that a corrupt president only encourages the spread of crippling corruption at all levels of government and society.
Trump’s election will send American culture back to the Middle Ages where wealth and status trump rights and dignity.
One of my colleagues told me that Americans are smart and will elect the right person. I hope so because if Americans elect Trump next month, his term as president will become America’s מה לעשות phase and an indictment of American voters as a people who condone this and other outrageous behaviour.
I thought about this more today on my way out to lunch after a discussion with some people about this. One of the participants in the discussion commented that this kind of talk is typical of Average Joes talking nonsense over a beer or two. He also mentioned that both Bill Clinton and Kennedy had their indiscretions. He’s right, of course.
That doesn’t justify Trump’s attitude towards women at all. Clinton’s and Kennedy’s behaviour wasn’t ok either. Remember, Clinton was almost removed from office because of his indiscretions.
More importantly, the person you elect as your president says a lot about the society you want to create in the coming few years that person leads your country. Regardless of what Obama’s critics feel about his presidency, he has always made a point of praising his wife and daughters.
In contrast, Trump has no difficulty demeaning and objectifying his daughter on radio with Howard Stern. An America under Trump will be a society where women will find themselves once again fighting just to be recognised as human beings, let alone worthy of praise and encouragement.
So, yes, Trump’s comments probably reflect conversations millions of men (tens of millions, hundreds) make on a daily basis but they aren’t running for election as the leader of the most influential nation on the planet at the moment and their comments are just as reprehensible.
Trump’s possible position will amplify those qualities by orders of magnitude and, in the process, create a world where women are, once again, objects for men’s amusement and gratification. That is not a society you should want to raise your daughters in if you have any respect for them and their dignity.
Fortunately, women have a powerful voice in American politics. This is what women could achieve in the next election if they choose to:
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) October 7, 2016
Image credit: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 by Gage Skidmore, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license