You don’t need to be the parent of a daughter or the grandfather of a little girl or the husband to a wife to understand that bragging about ― and committing ― sexual assault is vile.
To be human is all that is required to understand that Donald Trump’s comments about women, caught on a hot mic in 2005 and released late Friday, are beyond offensive and degrading. In bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy” and kissing women without their consent, Trump was proudly admitting that he brazenly commits sexual assault.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Donald Trump tells “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in the video recording, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Watch the whole awful thing here:
You don’t need to be a father or a grandfather or even “revere” women ― as Paul Ryan emphasized ― to understand why Trump’s words and the behavior he describes are deeply wrong.
What Trump is describing is sexual assault.
(In a statement, Trump dismissed his behavior as locker-room banter and said he was sorry if he offended anyone. He later expressed additional regret in a video released just after midnight on Saturday.)
You don’t even need to know a woman or a girl very well to get this. Indeed, most grade school children understand that you don’t just touch someone’s privates.
And yet that’s precisely how Republican stalwarts Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney framed their horrified reactions to Trump on Friday. Bush and Romney’s statements indicated that Trump’s comments are awful not simply because they are awful, but because of “our daughters” and and our “precious girls.” Or something.
“Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters,” tweeted Romney.
But, c’mon. Trump’s comments demean and degrade everyone.
Romney and Bush and the other men who framed their criticism of Trump this way certainly mean well. But their comments imply that women are only worthy of basic respect in relation to men. Without wives, daughters, sisters and granddaughters, would men be unable to muster some base-level compassion for female human beings? Men don’t get a pass on feeling outraged if they don’t know any girls. And most men are better than that.
It’s heartening to see men like Ryan, Romney and Bush finally taking Trump to task for his long-standing record of blatant misogyny. But by refusing to simply condemn Trump’s horror, and instead framing it as an insult only to women or to “our daughters and wives,” these men are treating women as objects. Kind of like how Trump treats women as objects ― calling them pigs, rating their looks, etc.
There seems to be this idea out there that men can only understand sexism, rape or harassment if they think about the victim as a daughter or wife. Why would that be? It’s about thinking of women as possessions. Imagine if Trump was bragging about stealing a piano. And you had to tell someone, “Imagine if I stole your guitar you really love,” in order for them to understand that stealing was wrong.
Stealing’s just wrong. I don’t need to have millions of dollars of jewelry to understand that it sucks for Kim Kardashian to have her jewelry stolen.
And you don’t need to be a woman or the parent of someone with a vagina to understand that it is not OK for someone to “grab ‘em by the pussy.”
When you only conceive of women’s humanity in relation to the men in their lives, that becomes the only way to explain the horror of sexual assault. What if it were your daughter? What if it were your granddaughter? (”It” is how Trump refers to women in the tape).
In these men’s estimations, women are only people when they are connected in some way to other men.
Please understand that’s absurd. Women are people all of the time.
Both men and women on Twitter were quick to call out the flawed logic in Romney and Bush’s disavowal of Trump’s comments:
To summarize: Women are humans. Humans don’t deserve to be assaulted. The end.