Throughout this presidential election cycle, Donald Trump has received many pointed critiques of his expressed views on and habitual degradation of women. Despite a plethora of examples showcasing Trump’s inappropriate views on women – in past interviews, with Howard Stern in particular, and T.V. guest spots – Trump’s base of support has not wavered. Trump has championed a movement staunchly inimical to the notion of political correctness – a stance that many of his supporters strongly identify with. Essentially, political correctness is an attempt to remove language, policies, and actions that offend and limit the opportunities available to women and minorities. During this campaign season Trump and his supporters have repeatedly defended his open racism and sexism, dismissing the dissemination of misogynistic and bigoted views.
During the Republican primary debate on August 6, well-known journalist and debate moderator, Megyn Kelly challenged Trump’s history of demeaning and objectifying women. Trump retorted with an assertion that he does not “have time for political correctness,” and that “this country doesn’t have time either.” Arguably, Trump has never cared about “political correctness.” His very platform is an affront to particular progressive ideals about equality. On Oct. 7, an Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump created waves as his open misogyny became publicly indigestible. Trump was recorded on the tape bragging about using the perks of stardom to kiss women without their consent, and, most disturbingly commit sexual assault with impunity. In said tape Trump stated, “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ‘em by the pussy.” The fallout from this tape has been immense, and has ostensibly removed any chance for an election outcome in favor of Trump. Rather than face the tape for what it is – an open admittance of sexual assault – Trump and his supporters have asserted that it was merely “locker room talk.”
Locker room or not, respect for humans should be universal, and there is no excusing the nature of his comments. Using the phrase “locker room talk” to downplay Trump’s lewd comments is reprehensible because this phrase condones such talk at its inception. Using this excuse, Trump’s version of locker room talk can be translated to men in private demeaning, degrading, and dehumanizing women while peddling stories of sexual assault. It can be taken no other way. A video featuring Trump boldly boasting of trying to “fuck” a woman while accompanying her under the pretense of shopping, and lewdly gloating of abusing power to sexually press himself on women is inexcusable. No setting, not even a locker room, can excuse the nature of these comments.
Locker room talk is just another iteration of a logic which habitually pardons a patriarchal view of women, an obvious analogous phrase would be “boys will be boys.” This phrase is more disturbing because it creates a basis from which men can excuse sexual assault as the byproduct human nature, however, male hormones do not excuse rape. However, the use of this phrase provides that women should curtail themselves to prevent the pre-exonerated actions of men. It assumes that men cannot help themselves, and hence cannot be held accountable. For example, in the past year we all witnessed a privileged, white young man sentenced to six months in jail for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford campus. Brock Turner, was released in three months.Turner blamed “the party culture and risk-taking behavior,” for his actions. I mean, what else would you expect a young man to do when tempted by an unconscious, unresponsive woman?
Just before the presidential debate on Oct. 9, Trump made an effort to lessen the negative impact of his statements by creating a false equivalency between his comments and the actions of Hillary and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The press conference featured 8 women who previously accused the husband of, and subsequently quieted by, Hillary Clinton. With this conference Trump is attempting to equate his words with the actions of Clinton and her husband. However, there is no comparison to be made: one is unsubstantiated claims that may or may not be true, the other is sexual assault. The former is at this moment unknowable, however, the latter is an explicit endorsement of abuse. This translates to an implicit approval of rape culture and excuses comments that condone and/or glorify sexual abuse.
As America separates itself from an embarrassing past of oppression, Trump serves as a reminder of how rape culture and misogyny still pervade within mainstream society. Locker room talk becomes the platform by which rape culture is cemented and perpetuated. Additionally, The “boys will be boys” excuse provides an affirmation to discussions that take place in this proverbial locker room. Unpacking this weak and flawed excuse only reveals more about the man himself, and the mindset of his supporters. Using the aforementioned excuses, and others of the like, are providing implicit approval for the bigotry with which he speaks.
I consider myself to be conservative. I subscribe to the Republican Platform. As a conservative, I find Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” to be disgusting. There are many things I find wrong and disconcerting about the specific things he said: it is disrespectful toward women, it is narcissistic, it is not presidential.
Trump released an apology on video. It was well-thought out and wonderfully delivered. He explained that he regrets ever saying these things. He also explained how he has changed since then – 11 years of experience does tend to change people. He also commented on the fact that while this video is important, it is merely a distraction from the greater issues of this race. He closed his apology by countering his statements with Hillary Clinton’s actions.
It has been known, since the beginning of this presidential campaign cycle, that Donald Trump is not politically correct. He was originally praised for not using a teleprompter when delivering his speeches. He was originally praised for being blunt, crude, and direct. America has known from the start that Donald Trump is not a polished politician. Trump admitted this himself during a debate in the 2015 Republican primaries after being confronted by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.. He explained that he does not “have time for political correctness [and] this country doesn’t have time either.” One of the reasons Americans find him so appealing is that he realizes the importance of not beating around the bush.
Americans now are starting to feel uncomfortable with everything they had once loved about Donald Trump. He says crude things without taking the time to make sure they are politically correct – specifically, this video.
While this may have affected many undecided voters’ decisions, it is important to remember that we are not electing our new next-door-neighbor. We are electing the next president of the United States. Yes, Mr. Trump may bring some offensive words to the table, but ultimately he will make America great again. Think Supreme Court Justices, think taxes and economic plans, think ISIS, think healthcare, think immigration – is this vulgar tape really all that important in the grand scheme of things, or is it just a distraction?