It’s the shot heard around the around: “Grab them by the pussy.” Just let that statement sink in. It’s vulgar. Distasteful. And definitely sexist. Hell, even the Republicans who cheated on their wives are shaking their heads, but is it defensible? Of course it is, because a large segment of society will continue to vote for him. People will still go to his rallies. They will still buy hats that say ‘Make America Great Again!’ And they will commend him for being a billionaire even when he was born into his riches. Obviously, I’m biased against Trump and wanted to clearly state that, but I’d like to try to defend him. His comment was atrocious, but I believe what is said behind closed doors should not hinder a person’s public persona. He’s actually got enough public gaffes to condemn himself already, but I digress.
I believe someone’s off-the-record comments should be treated as private. If they are made public, there is no choice but for us to judge, but we should take it with a grain of salt because we don’t know the context of what it was said in. When Duane Chapman from Dog the Bounty Hunter was recorded by his son for saying racist things against Black people, his show was put on hold. Although I don’t believe in the things he said, I believe he had the right to say them in a context that he presumed was private. However, I also believe the A&E Network had the right to terminate him if they wanted. I did not agree with that decision as it was based solely on one private conversation, but they also had the right to terminate for whatever reason they saw fit.
Don Sterling, the owner of the Clippers, was also secretly recorded saying racist diatribe while owning a mostly Black basketball team. When the recording came out, he was forced to sell his team based off that private statement alone. I fear that we live in a society where your ownership can be forced to be sold because of a private statement. Then, there’s Ray Rice, who was let go from the Ravens for having a video recorded of his wife being brutally punched out by him. I certainly don’t agree with these things, but I also find that it’s a slippery slope that they are able to be fired for things they did in their personal lives. This creates an environment where those who live in the public sphere must always watch their private lives in fear of being condemned for it. I quite remember a time when Hilary Clinton was snapped by photographers drinking beer and there was public outrage over the incident. At what point are private actions and comments made accountable for the public persona? Although I don’t agree with some of these men’s actions, it makes me uneasy to think of the probabilities it holds for social accountability.
However, it is two-fold because we are judgmental people and these things have been made public, so we will hold the person to their statements. I feel I can judge the person based off their comments, but I refrain from judging their public persona. As a man, I think Donald Trump believes he can say and do no wrong. That comment shows that he grew up in an insular world where no one challenged or rebuked him for anything. He’s like a 13-year-old boy that stayed that way because no one told him to grow up and act decently. He wasn’t 21 and ignorant when he made that comment, but he was 59. If he hasn’t grown up by now, I’m pretty sure he he’s going to keep on being 13. And petulant 13-year-olds make awesome presidents! He believes he can treat women like sexual objects because the women that have come before him have let him and no man has said the opposite. He thinks it is his star power that allows him this freedom, when in actuality, it’s his money. He has traded on this belief for so long that it is ingrained in him, and he makes no apologies for it as when he called Rosie O’Donnell a ‘fat slob.’
Furthermore, this mindset can be detrimental when combined with hanger-ons like Billy Bush, who feed into Trump’s logic. He feels he has the right to comment on a woman’s body and to take it if he desires it simply because he can. A person such as this can never see a woman as his equal and loves to sexualize them to put them on a level lower than him, but they cannot see them as the same. They demean women on the bus and when they get off, Bush feels as if he has the right to ask the woman to hug them. If they hadn’t had such braggadocio talk, perhaps he wouldn’t have had the balls to ask for such a thing. Such talk encourages the sexualization of women and the complicity of men in the act. That woman in the video might of thought it odd at such a request, but had nothing to substantiate her fears, so she hugged them, but when the video as a whole is watched, you can see how women become sexualized and participate in their own sexualization because they do not want to be perceived as a stuck-up bitch.
For that is the refrain they hear a lot when they don’t comply with cat-calls, whistles, and put-downs on the internet: you stupid fat cunt! Go back to the kitchen. Men feel as if it’s perfectly fine to say these things to women because we as a society have accepted this ‘locker room banter’ for decades. I understand what locker room banter is, but what Trump said is not that. It is the demonizing and demeaning of women as a whole, and it allows for men to think that they are free to exercise that right. So if the President of the free world can call a woman a fat slob and try to grab them by the pussy, it sets a precedent for other men that it is perfectly fine to continue their diatribe against women. We are all responsible for these actions and if we don’t all condemn them, we are also contributing the the problem. I don’t condemn the public persona of Donald J Trump, but I certainly condemn the private man that is Donald J Trump.