“I didn’t hear the accusations,
I only heard the denial.”
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Last Friday, we were all made privvy to what sort of things the Republican Party’s choice for president says about women when he thinks he’s among friends. Allies, even. We got a little insight into the sorts of things the Republican Party’s choice for president believes he is entitled to do to women, given his celebrity status.
Trump: “Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.
And when you’re a star they let you do it.
You can do anything.”
Bush: “Whatever you want.”
Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Everybody was outraged. We-ell, that’s not exactly true, now is it? Not everybody. We learned that most men seem to hear things differently than women do.
The initial reaction was a flurry of articles and blog posts and open letters from women asking men how they could support the Republican Party’s choice for president after his blatant misogyny and sexually aggressive talk about women. How they could continue to entertain the notion of voting for him after we heard him blithely brag about sexual assault. The articles asked men how they could, as fathers, brothers, husbands, and grandfathers, not denounce this man as the morally unfit predator that he is?
I have been guilty of making this argument. I’ve put it in that context because it does not seem that most men care about this until it is framed that particular way. I don’t know. Is it a “not in my backyard” sort of a thing? It’s okay if he hates other women, but when someone intimates that it might have an affect on “your” women it becomes relevant? I mean, we say, “THIS IS NOT OKAY!” until we’re blue in the face, but until we ask, “IS THIS OKAY FOR YOUR DAUGHTER?” most men cannot seem to hear us. Until it is brought into their personal world, they don’t see the harm.
Anyway, that seemed to resonate on some level, because then followed articles by men expressing outrage on behalf of the women in their lives- because apparently we are to be championed and revered.
Initially, it was pretty refreshing to see men weighing in on this at all. I mostly saw this on Twitter, where I tend to follow writers, thinkers, and artists whose work I admire. On my Facebook feed, it was pretty quiet. Y’know, from the men in my actual life. A few weighed in. The usual suspects, who I have come to appreciate more and more in recent days.
Then there began to be articles and posts by women pointing out that men shouldn’t be thinking of women only in terms of their relationship to men. That they didn’t need to be a father or a husband or a brother to recognize this behavior as deplorable – they just needed to be decent human beings. You know, like we women are human beings, and worthy of respect apart from any connection or relation we have to men.
“I’m offended as a guy.”
It made me reflect on why I felt the need to make that argument, and the answer can be found in the same Facebook newsfeed. When Brock Turner got off with a slap on the wrist, I saw virtually nothing posted by men. Not on their own pages, anyway. MAYBE they’d like a post or comment on what a shame it was, but there was a decided lack of outrage. Bill Cosby? Crickets. The Republican Party’s choice for president’s comments on women throughout the campaign calling them fat, ugly, commenting on menstrual cycles as though they were a character flaw and declaring breastfeeding and the need to use the restroom to be “disgusting.”
You could hear a pin drop.
You’ve probably seen that meme that says, “Privilege is when you thnk something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.”
You know what privilege looks like? It looks like being surprised by the number of times the GOP’s choice for president interrupted Hillary Clinton during the first debate. I did not see or hear a single woman express surprise over that.
You know what privilege sounds like? It sounds like men immediately making the recordings about them. We heard men say, “Can you imagine if someone taped what you said in private and played it for everyone to hear? We’d be screwed.” Really?? Then you should probably examine the things you are saying in private. Misogyny articulated in private is still misogyny. Who you are when you think no one is listening is WHO YOU ACTUALLY ARE.
You know what privilege does? It assumes. “When you’re famous they let you do anything.” I think people are fundamentally misunderstanding the GOP’s nominee here. I think THEY really means society, and LET simply means he got away with it. Ask any woman how many times she’s fended off unwanted advances, been kissed, groped, grabbed, pinched, backed into a corner- how many times she’s smiled and moved someone’s hand, laughed and tried to extricate herself from an unwanted embrace. Then ask how many times the man faced consequences. I bet those guys would say, “She let me do it.”
Privilege is being shocked by the staggering number of women who immediately began responding to Kelly Oxford’s tweet asking us to weigh in on what age we were when we endured our first sexual assault.
You can only be shocked by that when the prospect of assault isn’t even on your radar. I take sexual assault into account every single day. I take my dog out late at night before I go to bed, and I take precautions every single night. Which means every single night I am aware of potential harm.
It occurs to me that on police shows when they are trying to scare male suspects with prison, the threat is always of rape. Because it’s just the worst thing they can imagine, and the notion of being in an environment where that could happen at any time is so horrifying and terror inducing they know it will be effective.
Well guess what, men? That’s the world women live in. ALL the time. Not just when they’re locked up and have had their power taken away for doing something wrong. ALL the time. Every day.
That means your ‘worst case scenario?’ Your ‘DefCon 10?’ That’s our Tuesday.
Men take safety for granted the same way women accept danger as a given.
We cohabit the same earth, men and women, but we don’t live in the same world.
I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform. At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.
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