I won’t bother rehashing the content of Donald Trump’s leaked “hot mic” comments regarding women to a disturbingly complicit Billy Bush in 2005. Lord knows enough is currently being said about it, including at least one brilliant parody courtesy of “Saturday Night Live” and Alex Baldwin’s dead-on impression of the be-wigged Cheeto. What’s really important to me is the fact that there are people out there, male and female, who are claiming this is normal “boys will be boys” banter and that all of us with male plumbing indulge in it.
That, dear reader, is absolute horseshit.
Of course, to hear former Eighties teen heartthrob Scott Baio tell it, there’s nothing wrong with Trump’s advocacy of sexual assault and female objectification. After all, “He talks like a guy.” And if Chachi/Bob Labla can’t tell us how life works, who’s left? Well, me for one. I’m at least as qualified as a faded TV actor whose constant stabs at relevance involve latching onto the coattails of a lunatic who’s ushered in more hatred in his followers than we’ve seen since the heyday of fascism. Since we know how Baio would have smiled and nodded appreciatively with his hands in his pockets while Trump discussed women using the “P-word,” we must return again to Billy Bush.
Bush sat there and giggled and fed into Trump’s braggadocio for ten minutes when he could have easily put a stop to it. He wasn’t a kid either. He also wasn’t recording this as part of an expose, since Billy Bush is about as much of a genuine journalist as Maury Povich. He is either a coward or he agreed with what he was hearing.
While complaining to my wife about the fact that Bush is a wus of the highest order, she asked me if I would have stopped Trump’s offensive comments. When I told I would have, she chuckled lightly and said, “Come on. Really?”
Then I told her about my own similar experience with a former boss who was an attorney and a rabid, sexist twerp. He never went as far as Trump but he started the first time we sat down together discussing women in a derogatory way. I told him I was uncomfortable with it and that there were women in the office and I wasn’t interested in having this conversation, especially in the workplace. He looked at me as if I’d grown a horn in the middle of my face. Later on when speaking with the female co-worker and personal friend who had recommended me for the job (it involved writing) he asked her if I was gay because of what I’d said to him. After all, what kind of guy would pass up the opportunity to discuss boobs and butts no matter where he was?
She said, “No. He just doesn’t choose to discuss women’s body parts at work. He’s a decent MAN.”
Needless to say, he was taken aback. My wife, upon hearing this, looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, her face bright, her eyes and mouth equally wide with joy. She told me I was her hero and, coming from someone who’d been surrounded by sexism all her life, that meant the world.
You see, I get that objectification happens. And it happens on both sides. It can be relatively harmless and it should be expected because we are, at our core, biological entities designed to procreate. But much like with racism, when someone has the power and wields it in the name of denigrating another human being and sees it as their earned and born into right, that person is loathsome and beneath contempt as well as undeserving of even more power.