Just when you thought this presidential election couldn’t get more deplorable, Trump raises the stakes.
When news broke Friday afternoon of the now infamous video of the Republican presidential nominee and Access Hollywood host Billy Bush having a disgusting conversation about using fame to “grab [women] by the p***y,” many Americans were rightfully outraged:
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—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.”
Many, but not all.
As usual, Trump’s alt-right supporters went into full spin mode, countering what essentially was sexual assault with the usual deflections – “Benghazi,” “Bill Clinton,” “Hillary’s deleted emails,” etc.
Pitiful, but certainly not surprising.
However, what did surprise me was the dismissal of Trump’s statements from some of the men in my life – from casual social media acquaintances to those I’m relatively close to.
According to these brothers, Trump’s statements are no worse than “what we all say at barbershops.” That actually reflects Trump’s “apology,” where he waved off his lewdness as “locker room banter, a private conversation.”
A candidate for the most powerful position on the planet laughs about using his fame to “do anything” to women and we shrug our shoulders and say, “boys will be boys.”
How dare he brush off the objectification of women as a minor issue.
And how dare we – the sons, brothers and fathers of strong women – allow this to slide.
It’s funny how defenders have spent most of Friday evening and Saturday morning dismissively saying, “well, men have all said something like this before.”
Really? I just hopped out of the shower and last time I checked I’m still a man. And I can honestly say I’ve never, ever said I’d grab a woman by her vagina.
And I never will.
I’m a black man in America, and that comes with very few privileges. Yet the one slight privilege I do have is that I’m male. I know that female full-time workers make only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. I acknowledge that if I’m assertive I’m praised as a go-getter, while a woman would be criticized as being bossy or abrasive.
I know that I can treat a woman like a sexual object and get pats on the back from my buddies like Billy Bush, while any sexual talk from a woman immediately brands her as a slut.
I recognize this because I’m my sister’s keeper.
I want respect for my mother, who has worked tirelessly for over three decades (and counting) at our hometown library; for my grandmother who cleaned homes of the wealthy to put food on her family’s table; for the brilliant creative women I work with daily at my advertising firm; for the dozens of young girls I mentor in our community who are bursting with potential.
Just look at the women in my state of Alabama: Gabby Bowie was criticized by school administration for wearing a Trayvon Martin sign but stood her ground and sparked a schoolwide demonstration against police brutality that garnered national attention.
I’m talking about women like Maacah Davis, whose debate night Facebook post about gender biases resonated with readers – both male and female – across social media and has been shared more than 90,000 times.
I want more for my own wife Javacia Harris Bowser, who spends nearly every waking moment of her day helping women writers find their voices – and a community of their own – as part of the See Jane Write organization. She will be honored along with more than two dozen other women trailblazers next month as Women Who Shape The State.
These aren’t just women I’m blessed to know, they’re women I’m honored to be inspired by. They’re more than the sum of their reproductive parts and bigger than “locker room banter.”
They’re why we need to show our young boys that women are more than conquests and playthings. Feeding into rape culture does nothing but make our sisters, mothers, aunts and loved ones victims.
Obviously no one taught our presidential nominee that. I’m glad my mama taught me better.