BY SAMAN SALAHUDDIN
Friday morning, The Washington Post leaked a videotape of Donald Trump. The tape was of a conversation between Trump and Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush on the set of the telenovela, “The Days of Our Lives.” Throughout the tape, Trump made lewd and misogynistic comments towards women, saying that being famous essentially gives you a free pass to grope and assault women. He didn’t stop at that though; he continued on to say how he himself has committed these acts-which border on the line of sexual assault- many times over. How is it that someone can from from talking about furniture shopping to sexual harassment in a matter of minutes?
Hours after the emergence of the tape, republicans and democrats alike, including Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, came forward and blatantly condemned Trumps comments. Many mainstream republicans including Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner called for Trump to drop out of the race all together.
Trump and his barrage of surrogates needed to somehow stop the campaign from hemorrhaging. So over and over, they referred to the comments made in the tape as merely “locker room talk” – as if that at all justifies Trump’s comments.
To be clear, let’s define what “locker room talk” means. Well, it creates a picture of a group of masculine men having a conversation in a crowded sweaty room, overflowing with testosterone- you know a place for “boys to be boys” and say what they are really feeling. Trump and his surrogates, by repeatedly using this phrase as a form of justification, are actually insinuating that this kind of misogynistic and sexist talk is somehow commonplace in locker rooms across the nations and thus, we should just accept it and move on.
This type of conversation that borders on sexual assault is not as commonplace as is insinuated. In an article on Vox, former NFL player Chris Kluwe, wrote a letter to Donald Trump clarifying what actually goes on inside a locker room:
“We talk about our families. We talk about our significant others, our children, and our parents. We talk about our fears that if a Hitler wannabe who can’t even string together a coherent statement on domestic policy becomes president, what that might mean for those of us who are married to a member of a minority community, or are a member of a minority community, or have children going to schools where hopefully nobody screams racial epithets at them..”
Trump’s comments are terrifying. Not only are they just another reason for us to be afraid that this is man running to be the President of our country, but also expose the harsh reality of the underbelly of American society. Sexism is real and deeply inherent.
Admittedly, over the years women have come a long way. But we are still far from equality. We live in a society where we have to teach are daughters to know where their drink comes from at all times because who knows, maybe that unsuspecting man at the party might just slip drugs into her drink. We have to teach them about the prevalence of this rape culture that plagues many of our colleges. We tell them to accept the fact that they must carry pepper spray at all times and simply ignore when they’re being “catcalled.” It’s the same society in which Brook Turner served merely six months in jail for committing rape because after all, according to the prohibition officials “during the presentence interview, the defendant [Brock] expressed sincere remorse and empathy for the victim.”
Trump’s comments have enraged women and justifiably so because it’s not about Trump. It’s not about republicans or democrats. It’s about the fact that women have to continuously deal with men like him and have to accept that they live in a culture that teaches men to treat women like objects. It’s also about how after November 8th, it will be as if this never happened-the subject will be dropped altogether and we will be back to where we started.
In all honesty, Trump’s comments are by no means a rarity. It’s a reality that we are forced to continuously grapple with. The only sense of closure that I can get is a hope that if we talk and debate about sexism enough, maybe change will arise.