What We’re Teaching Our Sons and Our Daughters

What We’re Teaching Our Sons and Our Daughters

Every time I accidentally see the news or someone’s ridiculous protestations that Donald Trump isn’t so very bad, that song “I wasn’t born with enough middle fingers” gets stuck in my head.

It seems he’s gone from insulting the looks of women who’ve come forward with accusations of his groping, wormy hands (as if being molested by a filthy old man is the cracker jack prize you get for being beautiful) to saying that anyone who works in the adult industry deserves to be manhandled anyway.

“I don’t grab them, you know as they say on the arm,” Trump said Monday on “New Hampshire Today” with Jack Heath on WGIR-AM, “One said, ‘He grabbed me on the arm,’ and she is a porn star, this one who came out recently. He grabbed me, and he grabbed me on the arm — oh, I’m sure she has never been grabbed before.”

I saw this played on the news, in front of a panel of talking heads- half of whom were ON HIS SIDE- and afterward there was just dead silence.

I mean, we know Donny. You don’t grab them on the arm. You grab those bitches by the pussy. Not that you grabbed her, because they’re all a bunch of lying phonies and you never met any of those women. But if you had grabbed her, it sure wouldn’t have been BY THE ARM. Plus sluts like that are used to being grabbed. She probably liked it. If it had happened. Which it didn’t.

This is just the latest in his seemingly endless litany of horrifically misogynistic statements. I’m not even going to go into his racist, bigoted, xenophobic and just outright moronic views- or we’ll be here all day. If you’re bored you can actually see a list of all the people, places and things he’s insulted merely on twitter, compiled by the New York Times, which used two entire pages to print them.

From calling a female reporter a shit-for-brains cunt and demanding that she be fired (before admitting that he never even read the article about which he was complaining, only the title) to bragging that he used his power and status as a judge to ogle naked young women in the changing rooms of the pageants he produced, the man truly seems not to comprehend what treating other humans appropriately involves.

That’s the scary thing. We live in a time where rapists are still rarely prosecuted or even reported. A time where we have high-profile case after case involving young men found guilty- or even admitting to- rape, yet being given laughable sentences because the (always male) judges don’t want to ruin their lives over such frivolous crimes. We live in a time where just recently a judge found a loophole to basically set a man free after he was found guilty of repeatedly raping his twelve year old daughter.

We are already not doing this right.

In the midst of that, we have this person vying for the most powerful position available in our country. You may completely discount the tide of women who have said “hey, he touched me inappropriately too”, you may discount the under-oath testimony of his first wife who said he attacked her violently, pulled out her hair and raped her (which was later recanted after he paid her off), you might even discount the currently pending court case featuring multiple eye-witnesses testifying that he raped a thirteen-year-old girl on the private plane of a now convicted sex offender, who when asked -again under oath- if Trump had associated with teenage girls at his parties, refused to answer the question so as not to incriminate Trump. However, even if you put all of that aside, you’re left with the man’s own indisputable words and actions.

I can fully understand not supporting Hillary. She’s done and said enough ugly things herself, I don’t need to defend her. But that’s what confuses me most. I’m capable of rationally saying that. Why do Trump supporters feel the need to defend him? I’ve seen pundits performing aerial acrobatics with impressively pretzel-twisted landings in order to paint him as not really a bad guy. It’s bizarre- he’s touted as just a regular dude, who says it likes it is and talks like “normal people”, while at the same time he’s a brilliant multi-billionaire businessman (who managed to lose 900 million dollars), and also we shouldn’t believe what he actually says because he uses rhetoric and hyperbole. So he’s a trustworthy fella who means what he says except for when he…doesn’t.

I also feel like there’s a special Hell for good Christians who continue to support Donald Trump. You don’t get to condemn gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks for their “lifestyles”, while defending this piece of trash. The cognitive dissonance this must involve for guys like Mike Pence is stunning. Cries of “But Bill did it too!” only serve to highlight their own hypocrisy. Sorry, but you don’t get to claim the moral high ground if you continuously abandon it whenever it becomes inconvenient.

Here’s the thing: I’m not denying that there is a world out there where it’s acceptable to speak about women in this way. I’ve heard guys say they wouldn’t stand for that sort of talk, it’s going too far. Everyone from football stars to Joe Biden are itching to take Trump behind the old wood shed for a beating. Men say they would shut that shit down in a heartbeat. But would you? Would you really?

I like to think that most men would, but I doubt it. I’ve seen and heard too much to be comfortable with that conclusion. Is a teenage boy in a locker room full of his peers all boasting about their sexual exploits really going to stand up and say “Hey bro, that’s not cool.” What if his coach is right there laughing along? Not that grown men are any less susceptible to the desire to fit in. The raunchy talk at your gym, at poker games, the barbershop, the bar, on road trips, fishing trips, all-guy weekends.  No one wants to be “that guy”, the one who ruins all the fun by reminding his friends that they’re kind of really a bunch of pigs.

I think of all the comments guys have said TO MY FACE and to the faces of my friends. I think of the guy who tried to shame me by asking in excruciating detail about my period. How long did it last? Was it heavy or light? Did I have sex during? I think of his shocked silence when I just answered him clinically with no emotion instead of getting upset. I think of the other guys sitting around us at the time who said nothing to him, but the one who turned to me after and asked why I wasn’t humiliated. (I told him it was ridiculous to be embarrassed about a bodily function that half the world shares and that any dude immature enough to try to make me feel gross over it probably needs the education.)

I think of guys who have asked everything from how tight my pussy is, to if I’m wet RIGHT NOW (because obviously being this close to you automagically sends all us bitches into heat). Who asked what my nipples looked like, what it felt like to have nipple piercings, what it felt like to lose my virginity. These were not close friends. These questions were not during intimate conversations.

Then there are the guys who have no concept of personal space, the ones who will “get up on you”. Again, much like dogs staking their claim. The guy who stood behind the curtains while I was performing on stage in a play and grabbed the ass of every girl who walked by. When he knew we would show no reaction and be struggling to pretend it didn’t happen and remember our next lines. The guy at a concert who got behind me, grabbed me by the hips and slid his hands up under my shirt. (That guy, at least, underestimated my ability to kick like a mule.) Working as a waitress, I was so continuously groped that I considered becoming a stripper instead, better pay and more dignity.

Most of those things I never bothered mentioning to anyone, because they were so par for the course they weren’t even worth the time to talk about them. When people say “Oh why are these women just coming out now with allegations against Trump? MEDIA IZ RIGGED” all I can do is laugh. Seriously? What were they going to do at the time? Call the cops? “Yes officer, this billionaire mogul grabbed my tits and kissed me without asking. Plz send help!” Yeah, NO. They did what all women do. Maybe they told a few friends who made appropriately outraged noises, then they added it to the long list of times in their lives when men crossed a line. And they moved on. Until they saw the orange terror emphatically insisting in a national presidential debate that he had NEVER touched a woman inappropriately.

I’ve been told again and again that these concerns are frivolous. As Newt Gingrich scolded Megyn Kelly on her tv show, “You are fascinated with sex!” Megyn Kelly being the same woman Donald Trump previously weirdly insulted by saying she had “blood coming out of her…wherever.” (Which is chauvinist code-speak for irrational, vagina-bleeding, hysterical ladies.) All of us libtard feminazi types aren’t focusing on The Issues. My counter to this is au contraire, the comportment of the next potential leader of the United States goes to the very heart of all of the issues facing us.

What we have right now are wars that get started based on little more than the bruised egos of powerful men. We have a country so divided that we refuse to work together for the common good, like spoiled petulant children. We have families losing everything they’ve spent their lives building in exchange for a few, often horrifying last years being kept alive by the blood-swollen tick of our healthcare system.

The other thing we have is a country where a very real backlash against equality and women’s bodily autonomy is being experienced every day. From men’s rights groups who want to financially abort their unborn children (leaving the mother with 100% of the burden and expense of childcare and rearing) to very smartly orchestrated and wholly untrue attacks on organizations like Planned Parenthood, meant to poison their reputation in the minds of the public and ultimately defund them entirely- leaving millions of women with no affordable or geographically attainable sources of care.

Amidst all this, our next generation of boys is emerging. Their young thoughts are being informed by everything happening around them. I often see people struggling with the concept of rape culture. It can’t be a real thing surely! We don’t encourage rape, we roundly denounce it. But rape culture doesn’t mean an outright acceptance of violation. It’s more insidious, creeping around the edges, suffocating us like black smoke roiling from beneath the bottom edges of a door.

When activists tell you: teach your boys not to rape instead of just teaching girls how not to be raped, it can sound baffling. How on earth do you do that? I would posit that the very first step is by not having men in power who easily fly off the handle, who use their power to measure who has the larger penis, who believe that women are objects which can be manipulated, touched and fondled on the slightest whim, and that women can be payed off or threatened easily enough if they complain. Men like Donald Trump.

Try to think of it in terms of men you know in your own life. If your husband one day at dinner said “You know, honey, our daughter is a fine looking piece of ass. If I wasn’t her father I sure would be tapping that,” how would you react? At the same dinner, your 60-year-old father turns to your daughter and says “Slow down there, Miss Piggy. Better have some lettuce.” Before you can even reach for the frying pan to brain him, he turns to your other daughter and says “Now, you’re a skinny one, but you’ll never be a ten with those tiny titties.”  Your sons are sitting there as well, silently taking this all in, giggling when Grandpa says a dirty word.

You hopefully wouldn’t stand for it from men in your own circle of friends and family, so why would you accept it from the man who would become the role model for our entire country. Beyond that, I would say we also shouldn’t stand for a double standard of boys-will-be-boys, locker room talk that treats women as nothing more than semen receptacles. Every time you laugh these things off as “just the way men talk”, you’re endorsing a culture where, when you scrape off the thin public veneer, it’s really okay to touch and fondle and kiss and ultimately rape women without any consent. Each time you shrug and say nothing, you’re setting another building block firmly in place.

A friend of mine smartly told me she’d stopped engaging in political discussions because at this point no one’s mind is going to be changed. And she’s dead right. If you’ve supported Trump this far, you’re not going to budge. You’re already composing replies to me in your head, telling me how I’m wrong, wrong, wrong and Hillary Clinton is the anti-christ who is going to bring about the end of civilization as we know it in all her pants-suited glory.

And that’s fine. I’m not even really trying to change your mind. I guess what I’m after is modicum of accountability. If you’re going to vote for a rapey, tantrum-throwing chimpanzee and his pray-the-gay-away gestapo wingman, you should own it. This means you don’t get to say you care about women. Or family values. Or black people. Or Hispanics. You don’t get to say you have really good friends who are gayyyyy.

You get to reap what you sow, and it’s going to be an ugly, twisted harvest.

2 thoughts on “What We’re Teaching Our Sons and Our Daughters

  1. Really Jenna, at this point it is all very disturbing. All I can think of in this election is “Clowns to the left of me jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.”
    I think both sides have had their share of ‘ugly’. Some, a forgotten piece of history, other parts currently in the news.
    This country is shattered, totally divided and it saddens me. I mean, you have the rape culture you mention so well, but the other that saddens me is the social divide. I see this daily, and it really really bothers me. I see hashtags that are meant to cause hate, things that others worked so damn hard to make better in the not so distant past. And it is being used to further a personal agenda.
    No kidding there are ‘hired’ people creating chaos, creating hatred.
    And what happens in November? Does it all go away?
    I will of course vote, people have died for our right to vote, women who suffered for our right, I wont deny them or myself that right, I have voted since I was able and have in every single election be it presidential or county supervisor. I do not like these choices, heck I dont really like the electoral college but I will vote. And have hope.

    • I know, it really is. I almost didn’t finish writing this because I’m so sick of the whole subject. I don’t think Clinton or her husband’s actions have been forgotten at all. The only real difference to me is I feel like Trump is still actively predatory, and not just sexually. I’m not comfortable having someone with the temperament of a raging toddler with access to nuclear weapons. Or any weapons, really.

      But that’s just me, and I do agree the most important thing is to vote, however you believe. I’ve been explaining to the girls that local elections are the really crucial ones if you want to change things. Our only real power is down close to the ground.

      Honestly, I think Trump will lose and not through any fault of a rigged system or a biased media. The man is his own worst enemy. He literally could have not spoken (or dear god, tweeted!) for the last six months and probably would have won. But it won’t matter, I think he will muster all of his followers and turn their anger into a profitable business enterprise- either an expansion of his Trump TV (which I can only imagine will be even more fair and balanced than Fox News!) or something else.

      And Hillary will be a run of the mill politico who won’t fix much or drastically change anything, and in about three weeks they’ll all start campaigning again.

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