Anyone that knows me, and I am certain I have mentioned this in the past, should be wary of those words. In this instance, however, it doesn’t mean anything will be destroyed, any money will be spent or any major messes or renovations will be the result of my thoughts. Brian can breathe a sigh of relief. Not that he will read this, mainly because he just doesn’t want to know.
I have told Brian that I actively avoid discussing or reading about politics because it flat-out pisses me off. Pisses me right the eff off actually. He still talks about it and insists I should watch the news. He has lectured. I have rolled my eyes. He has ranted about the current president for 8 years. I have covered my ears. Rant away, my love, but we vote and Lord knows you write your congress men and women (restraining orders have been threatened and more than one of them has changed their numbers. Others have left him voice mails saying they received his letter and some have sent him birthday cards. I am kidding about the first part. Not about the second.) and there isn’t a damn thing you or I can do about it beyond that. All we can do is brace for impact. I am aware of the issues and where candidates stand on those issues, I look stuff up, I examine various sources. I am nothing if not obsessed with researching EVERYTHING. Mainly I just like to be informed before I talk about something. I also like to discredit Brian as often as possible because he treats third hand information as though it was written in stone and that is a very dangerous thing to do. I make sure I prove him wrong as often as possible in the hopes that his minor humiliation here at home will teach him not to accept information he hears from others or glances at online as fact and end up really humiliated elsewhere. This is the same reason I correct his spelling and grammar. You are welcome, Brian. (something tells me he isn’t thanking me.)
This election is so different. Side note: I can tell you for a fact that Trump has already disrupted my own personal small business. How? Because I have spent hours upon hours reading about this election, the debates and the various other disasters. It’s like a train wreck and I can’t look away. Brian wishes with his whole heart that he had never even had the silent wish that I would take a more active interest in politics. He is so sick of hearing me that he hides now.
The most recent horror that has come to light is, of course, Donald Trump being Donald Trump but being Donald Trump on a recording. From 2005. If anyone doesn’t know what I am talking about, don’t keep reading because honestly, it will steal your soul. I have been so bothered by this entire thing that I can’t sleep at night and instead of reading my perfectly delightful novel about witchcraft in New Orleans I am reading the Washington Post. For hours. Upon hours. That and thinking.
The one good thing, because there is always at least one good thing no matter the situation, is the discussion about sexual assault that Trump’s – I am lacking the proper description for his words here. Insert your own synonym for disgusting and then multiply it by like a bazillion-) words has started. Mental illness, suicide, depression; they are all things I think have been swept under the carpet until very recently when people started to talk about these issues because taking about them makes them real and while that is scary for so many people it is also necessary to understanding and treating the conditions. (yeah, I know, I wasn’t talking about depression. I just pulled a Trump there. but I was using it as a relevant lead in. There, my friends, the difference lies.) sexual assault is another of those issues that we don’t talk about. We need to talk about it because it is real, it happens every day in so many major and minor instances in so many every day situations. We can’t stop it until we talk about it. A reporter – I’m sorry, I can’t remember her name at the moment tweeted (?) or whatever it is one does with twitter that asks a question- asking women to talk about their first sexual assault. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes I wrote it correctly. She asked women about their FIRST sexual assault. The implication being that most women experience some form of sexual assault more than once in her life. She got thousands upon thousands of responses. Being a teenager in the 90’s I know that there was a whole hell of a lot more tolerance for all sorts of behaviour that would NOT be acceptable today. Not that this sort of thing doesn’t continue today- is sure as hell does- I don’t know the facts and figures, I doubt there are even any accurate figures because of the shame associated with the topic and the lack of reporting- but I would hope it is less common today because there is more education, more awareness and less tolerance for it. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a young woman in the ’60’s. Or any woman in any time frame before now really.
I do actually have a map of my thought process here and it’s almost linear even. I was pulling weeds (yes, it is important to know that detail. Actually it isn’t but you are reading this of your own free will so just be quiet and keep reading and stop questioning me.) and I was thinking of that question. “your first sexual assault.” I was thinking of the dozens of times someone has grabbed, groped, or otherwise crossed the line. Personally that is. One time came to mind, not because it was an especially horrible instance – hell in the grand scheme of thing in 1992 or whatever it was, this was nothing out of the ordinary. What stood out in my mind was the reaction I received when I said something about it.
I was walking down the hall and another student- a year older- pulled my pants down around my ankles. Luckily it was the ’90’s and I had on a long/ oversized sweater or whatever, but it was humiliating and I was effing furious. I didn’t even really KNOW this kid. How dare he? I walked into the class I was headed to and I was still steaming and I said something to the teacher about what had happened. She – yes SHE- said “Oh, grow up, Shannon.” Wait a minute. Did she just tell ME to grow up? Yup she sure did. I remember that to this day. Mind you, I liked and respected and STILL like and respect this person. My point is not to vilify her in the least. She reacted the way most teachers would have reacted in that situation. She had a class to teach and frankly, this was not out of the ordinary. In 1992 terms such as Sexual harassment, sexual assault and date rape were not common at all – if they even existed. So since he didn’t violently rape me in the broom closet this really wasn’t even anything she could do anything about because what the hell would she even SAY? Could she have been more compassionate? Sure she could have, but her reaction is actually very telling. She was a petite and very pretty woman. She is about my parent’s age which means she was a teenager in the ’60’s the sexual revolution, the counterculture. Things were different then and I can just imagine the indignities she was expected to tolerate. Compared to what she endured as normal expected and accepted behaviour I am sure my instance was trivial to her. We, as women are taught not to raise a fuss. Even if we are taught it subconsciously. Even if it is subtle. Her reaction is a perfect example of that. I shouldn’t be making a fuss. What was the big deal? The big deal is that some teenage boy that I didn’t know or even talk to came up, grabbed me and pulled my clothes off me. Imagine if that happened in a school today and a student complained.
We, as girls, young ladies and women still have such a horrible sense of shame associated with this sort of thing. So many times we have been told we are over reacting, he is just being friendly, why are you such a bitch? etc. Told we must have misunderstood. Told we shouldn’t have been in the situation to begin with.
Anyhow, this leads me to this thought. Donald Trump seems fond of the” two wrongs make my wrong less wrong” mentality. I was unaware such a mentality even existed beyond, say, preschool until this week. Donald Trump is confronted about his nauseating conversation about the various ways he feels entitled to sexually assault women and his response is “Bill Clinton has said/ done worse.” I don’t have the mental stamina to even get into why that defense is so bone headed beyond saying “um, so what? even if he did, how does that change what YOU did?” but here is my thinking….
There is a woman who claims (and then recanted and then claimed again, but never actually pressed charges) that Bill Clinton assaulted her in 1978. If this is true, I am so very, very sorry for this woman. However, she isn’t all that credible considering. Then of course there is the sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones in the 90’s. Etc, etc. No one is claiming the man was a Saint. Although, again, he isn’t running for president. He has already faced all these charges and paid retribution etc. when he WAS running for president. All politics aside however, I can’t help but wonder about something. We are looking at these claims and charges again, 20 some odd years later. We are looking at them from today’s perspective. We are using today’s workplace etiquette, work place expectations, rules and laws to (re) judge his actions. I am not, in any way, defending anything he may have done that hurt or humiliated anyone. I’m not excusing him, but I am wondering. First, how did being a teenager, a high school kid and a college kid in the counterculture of the ’60’s and ’70’s affect how he viewed women and their bodies and what he was and was not entitled to do. Burn your bras, free love and such. I understand that Donald Trump is the same age as Bill Clinton. However, we have come a long way baby. The allegations against Clinton were 25-40 years ago. President Clinton came into the work force in a different time, with a different level of tolerance for sexual innuendo and touching and propositioning. Again, I am in no way saying he was RIGHT, but I am saying the expectations were different then. The rules were different then. The laws were different then. Few, if any women complained because we were taught not to make a fuss. It may have cost them their jobs. They knew that, but I wonder if the men in the office even realized it or took their stunned and frightened silence as consent. In this regard Paula Jones did women in general a huge service by dragging this dirty little secret out into the light and giving it the attention it deserved. Granted, the charges were dismissed, but it still made America aware that women DON’T HAVE TO TOLERATE THIS. We DON”T LIKE IT.
However. It’s not fair to judge Clinton’s behaviour back then by today’s standards. Donald Trump made these comments on Access Hollywood in 2005 and even more recently on the Howard Stern show. He also attempted to have a woman that he admittedly tried to pressure into sleeping with him -although she was married and he was technically her boss -fired when she rejected him. Among other horrific comments and claims he made. In this day and age, even if it was a decade ago, it is not acceptable. Grabbing, groping and kissing a woman without her consent is not ok. It IS sexual assault. It is sexual assault and it came straight from the horse’s mouth. HE BRAGGED ABOUT IT. I don’t think Donald Trump even knows wrong from right. He felt entitled then, of course he feels just as entitled now.
Since I am already discussion his reprehensibleness (apparently this is not a word or else it is so horribly misspelled that spellcheck doesn’t even have the heart to offer suggestion for me. You decide. If it isn’t already a word I just invented it and hence, I call it.) He also said that he “didn’t like the way pregnant women look” which makes me question his sudden pro-life stance as well.
Now, I wonder this as well. Is there a woman out in the world today that hasn’t been assaulted?