For the last year, Donald J. Trump has used his platform to both humiliate and denigrate Mexicans and those of Latino heritage. He’s called them “murderers” and “rapists” in his attempt to gain support for the border wall he hopes to build if elected president. But, after the whirlwind reveal of his supposed “locker room talk” last month, all eyes are on the culture of abuse right here at home.
Before The Washington Post unleashed Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood recording, it was already hard to deny the Republican nominee’s lack of respect for women. From Alicia Machado to Rosie O’Donnell, his prior verbal attacks were far less than presidential. Yet, once the video was made public, it became impossible for even his most staunch supporters to refute his lack of respect for both the mental and physical well being of women across the spectrum. His exchange with Billy Bush exposed his inclination to sexually assault any woman he deemed physically attractive—those most likely deemed “9” or “10” on his notorious rating scale—by instinctively kissing them or grabbing them “by the p—y.”
Since the reveal, Trump has repeatedly claimed that his remarks were nothing more than typical banter one would expect from the average male. But it’s in this justification that society must recognize that the overall normalization of objectification and abuse has permeated the surface layer of our culture, deeply rooting itself in our collective conscience and threatening to poison the mindset of our youth. If Donald Trump were to take office, the young boys and girls of this country would pay the ultimate price.
In recent months, we’ve seen numerous accounts of alleged sexual assault and rape that led to trials, but no convictions. As with the Brock Turner rape case, it appears that judges prefer to put the future of the man ahead of the well being of the woman, resulting in nothing more than a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Such cases perpetuate the idea that, even when caught, men will face little to no repercussions for their actions, thereby confirming that they can help themselves to any woman’s body if they so choose.
We are essentially teaching children that such actions are not only normal, but also accepted. Each time another alleged rapist or attacker evades jail, we are teaching boys that their actions will have few consequences. Each time we send another girl home from school for “inappropriate” attire, we are teaching the next generation that women must be on guard at all times because men cannot control their sexual urges. And if we elect Donald Trump, we will teach the boys of this nation that they can abuse women for decades and still hold the highest, most respected office in the world. We cannot allow this to become reality and we cannot allow these young boys and girls to grow up in an atmosphere that only widens the gender gap even further.
As it stands, even Trump’s attempt to deflect his controversies by focusing on Bill Clinton’s indiscretions further perpetuates the concept that women are responsible for men’s actions. Remember: Bill Clinton isn’t running for president, yet Hillary Clinton continues to face persecution for his sins. He’s not on the ballot and she should not be put on trial for his past actions. After all, Melania Trump hasn’t been forced to answer for her husband’s lewd behaviors.
Should we be happy that the Republican nominee for president continues to try and justify his remarks?
Of course not.
Should we be grateful that this tape has sparked a national discussion about how society treats women?
Beyond all else, we need men to support our fight for gender equality, not rally against our efforts. Much like Emma Watson’s “HeForShe” initiative, we need the men and boys in our lives to be advocates for change. We need them to view women and girls as dignified human beings, not objects of visual and physical pleasure. We need to counter the damage Trump’s harmful rhetoric has caused by turning his atrocious behavior into an example of what not to do.
We have an exceptional, teachable moment on our hands and we have an obligation to further establish the sort of future we’d always envisioned for the children of our world.
Like First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “When they go low, we go high.” Let’s continue on the path toward creating a world that encourages every child to reach for the stars, instead of electing someone that thrives on fear and oppression, for his term will surely cause a negative ripple effect for generations to come.