That one time a presidential candidate triggered almost half of America


“The Election” isn’t stressing me out. Donald Trump and his 43% are stressing me out. It’s what that kind of out in the open, unexamined hatred means for the rest of us, no matter who wins on November 8, 2016.

When Pussygate dropped in early October, I skimmed the article in which he reveled in his celebrity shield for sexual assault, bragging that he could Access Hollywood anytime he wanted. I rolled my eyes and shrugged. It wasn’t surprising that he said those things. Less surprising that he believes them. Not at all shocking that he does them.

So I was a little surprised when this was the comment that blew up. It seemed like the kitty cat epithet for a woman’s lady parts was a bridge too far for some pearl clutching public men. I got the feeling it was not the description of sexual assault that jarred them as much as the language used.

The fact that I initially shrugged this off says something about how women are used to being treated on a regular basis and how much this kind of behavior has been normalized. We heard all the same garbage excuses we always hear: “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” and “this is just how me talk when there are no women around.”

If this is how men talk when when there are no women around, and that’s OK with men, then men suck. (For the record, I don’t think that’s true.)

I suppose it makes sense that men would talk about sexually assaulting women when women aren’t around to hear them because just about the only time women talk about being sexually assaulted, it’s when men aren’t around to hear them.

But after Pussygate, women started talking openly and in large numbers about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, and I read these stories thinking how lucky I was not to have gone through what so many women have.

Then I remembered the time at a local bar when a guy sat down at the only spare seat at a four top, interrupting three women having a nice evening, and said, “Any of you fucking cunts got a rubber?”

I remembered the time working at the renaissance festival when the brother of the booth owner spent an entire weekend making lewd sexual comments to me and getting his dick out.

I remembered the award I received once at a team dinner, the “Stick up her butt” award, because I had the nerve to be upset about a job reassignment.

I remembered the nickname I was given that same summer: “Ball busting little pussy.” This was shortened to “BBLP,” which stuck for years. I went along with it and laughed because I didn’t want to appear “uncool.”

I remembered making a safety map in my Intro to Women’s’ Studies course showing pay phones and open establishments for my walk home, in case I was feeling threatened.

I think about the fact that I always park in the same place at different establishments, not just because I’ll always be able to find my car but because I will be familiar with the route, and that will keep me safer.

I remember when we used to go to the same bar every week, and we always hoped for parking on the street nearby because the lot was across a few streets and under a bridge, and we called it “The Rape Lot.” Because it’s funnier if it’s true.

I think about the pressure of always being subject to the gaze, feeling like you don’t own yourself, like you exist for consumption. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t felt it. For the past few months, the language used by the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America and his supporters has been pressing down on a large percentage of Americans, bringing up bad experiences: experiences of violence, harassment, abuse, and the general self consciousness of feeling wrong, bad, not enough, less than. Of being the property of society, not a collaborating agent. It has turned the gaze into a growl, and it’s menacing.

That growl won’t go away on November 9, 2016, even if we wake up to a world where a woman is the President-elect of the United States.

That is what is stressing me out. What do we do, starting November 9th, no matter what happens on November 8th?

Comments

  1. says

    What has stressed me out so much are these two things:

    1) Regardless of how horrible the actions of Trump have been, regardless of the ever-growing number of groups who have been victimized by him, the amount of support for Trump among the US (white) electorate remains quite large. A huge part of the white US populace has a deeply impaired sense of ethics and decency.

    2) All of the horrid memories of my right wing ex-family and former home town have been triggered over and over again. The people in number 1 aren’t just folks in a newspaper article or on a TV news clip for me. They are real, live people I have known throughout my life. They are truly abusive and awful, and as I have been repeatedly reminded by this election, they are numerous and common.

    This election season has been worse than any other: absolutely fucking horrible. As a queer woman and as a trans person, I fear for my survival in this country, and I also fear for the survival of others who don’t have the good fortune to reside at the top of the social heap. 🙁

    • secondtofirstworld says

      I can sympathize with your situation, I left my country for similar reasons, although my situation had not yet reached a level, where I had to fear my life.

      Beyond the people, many of whom I know personally have turned into open hatemongers pretty fast, my other issue was the equally quick disintegration of the liberals. People who complained mostly about economic decisions have adapted to the government’s rhetoric, and in one particular issue I brought up a case of a Norwegian woman, who fell victim of rape in Dubai while working there, and she was arrested for unsolicited extramarital activity (the similarly foreign guy wasn’t charged). I worked as the single guy in the office, and their response was, it’s her fault for going there. I was shocked how fast social relations can devolve among people, who’re liberals, but not progressives.

      The major milestone will be these 2 years, as the makeup of Congress can change if people do go to vote, and thus can weaken Pence’s influence. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I made the assessment, how people started out with supporting racism, when that became illegal, they switched to sexism, and when that became uncool, they settled on the LGBT crowd as targets of discrimination. It’s not a white thing, plenty of countries have discriminatory laws based on ignorance.

      In my interpretation human rights are an abstract construct only fathomable by sentience and conscience, and that is the basis for our equality. Gender, race, self identity, religion and lack thereof, nor political affiliation shall or should not play a role in exercising, protecting and respecting these rights. As Kasparian likes to say: You do you.

  2. secondtofirstworld says

    One of the few things, that bemuse me in my life is when fellow men try to convince me there’s no way to talk to feminists. The part I find funny is, that they project their experiences onto everyone, as if human interaction, unless it’s militant is based on what you believe or don’t believe.

    What I’m saying now is not an advertisement, it’s not being said to make you or me feel better. When I was young, I was all kinds of conservative and yes, I did not feel genders should be equal. Emphasis on the word feel, it’s not a thing based on experience and knowledge. So while I’m not American, I still get being social conservative. The reason I’m clarifying is obvious to me, our group behavior define us, not our nationalities. I can’t and won’t proclaim omniscience on every male group conversation, however more often than not, juveniles brag about sexual conquests. The impulse of exerting power when we no longer have to kill each other for mating purposes. To a milder extent, women do the same, when they proclaim bedding the most handsome guy. People either like it or don’t. Where I see the problem is converting this desire into physical action when there’s no consent.

    We do have a high level of abstract thinking, but still are warmblooded creatures. “Checking out” the other person happens, either subtly or very obviously. From that point on, a socially adjusted person knows that there’s somebody for everybody, and the other factor: how shallow a person is. I don’t call women names if I’m rejected or if they live a sexually liberated lifestyle, it’s a person’s choice, what concerns me is safety. Hence why I’m disgusted by Pump and dump, not only does that denigrate the other person, but the pump part suggest, safety is at no point a concern, thereby becoming guilty in spreading VDs. At this point I should mention, I’m the lucky one out of 150 million to be here alive (funny that, pro-lifers say abortion is murder, but they don’t see the extinction of countless cells before conception as genocide), so there was a 50% chance I’m not being born a man. As such, based on the experiences of the many women, including you have, my sign in kindergarten would have been a pepper spray.

    So, nobody is my property. If I see a woman, I do look at her, but I don’t think she is destined to be with me, the word describing that would be egomania. Would I have boasted among the guys to level up my credibility? I was a bullied kid, so it wouldn’t have made a difference. What I can say for sure, I like intellectual conversations, and quite frankly, there’s not much to be had with any person who’s centered around sex. For me, at the end of day, the one thing that make us sentient is our gray matter, which my basis for equality comes from. I’m sure you’ve noticed in recent years how the term beta male begun floating around. The same person treating you like property is treating men not falling in line with his desires as doormats. Donald is just the megaphone for that.

    Lastly, I wanted to add, that wanting to be high up on the social ladder in a culture based on verbal and physical violence, women feeling shunned by their peers do end up supporting these men, getting the kind of attention from them they don’t get from other women. Good old tribal logic tied up in a nice bow.