TRUMP’s Familiar Brand of Sexism

October 16, 2016

 

"...How they hate them when they are “bitches” (say “No” to them); and how they loath them when they are “whores” (say “Yes” to them); how they despise them when they are “ball breakers” (intelligent, well educated, articulate and with opinions of their own); and how they can’t stand them when they are feminists (not good sports when it comes to rape jokes…)"

 

 

The world is holding its breath for the US presidential elections. We all constantly turn our eyes to the United States anyway. Even though its own citizens are largely unaware of what is going on in other countries, the rest of the world is fixated on it: its politics, its pop culture, and all that is relating to the interactions of social and economic factors. Whether we are Europeans, Asians, Australians or Africans we, for some weird reason, feel to be a part of it, in a way that we don't feel about other countries. Maybe because it is an amalgamation of all races, all countries, each one of its citizens coming from somewhere else, carrying a part of the collective "us". Maybe it's because it is always a shinning possibility for every person in the world, hoping to "make" it. In any case, it leads the way by the size of its market, as much as by its military might. It holds the keys and the power — not to mention the weapons — to change or destroy. To keep things as they are, to bring hope, or more fear

Things are changing everywhere, but there is a common thread, a thing that is beginning to happen everywhere, in the East, the West, the Islam, the “New word’ which goes unnoticed: women are again being put in their place by Patriarchy, which in the midst of all this violence and fear, and social change, is once again, empowered: Women are again being told by men to just be pretty and behave. To sit silently and take it. They are again being reminded that they are nothing but bodies. And who better to amplify this message than the American Republican nominee for president? He is the man for the job all right! In fact, if he din’ t exist, this new epoch would have to invent him! Besides, his entry into the political spotlight was a necessity born out of the fact that a woman (of all things!) has good chances of becoming the next American president and leader of the free World! And they can't have that!

Trump embodies the kind of white male sexism and racism that have kept women and people of colour in their “place” for hundreds of years. And he didn’ t materialise out of the blue. The groundwork has been laid for his arrival. The Republican party candidates in the 2012 United States election cycle for example, were particularly concerned with matters of female sexuality (ironically, very much like the Moslem lawmakers they love to hate!) Their views on rape, pregnancy, contraception, and abortion especially after rape, sound to our ears like Islamic aphorisms, and Biblical utterances coming out of the mouth of angry misogynistic Patriarchs belonging in the Stone Age. One fine example was the Republican U.S. Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin, who claimed that pregnancy rarely occurs as a result of what he called "legitimate rape." His claims are of course a lot of nonsense according to medical science, and quite obvious to any one with a common sense, a shred of dignity and half a brain.

This controversy has opened the floodgates and has initiated what has come to be known as the “War on Women”: the conscious and deliberate effort made by the Republican Party to affect legislation and policies that concern any aspect of womens’ s lives, like the prosecution of criminal violence and workplace discrimination against them, but especially the reproductive health services provided to them, (like birth control and the “correct” definition of rape for the purpose of the public funding of abortion - Incidentally according to studies, over 32,000 pregnancies are caused in the United States each year as a result of rape of women aged between 12–45!) Is it any wonder that a man like Trump, is chosen now to “finish” the job they have started? Is it any wonder that the members of the Republican Party hear how he talks about women and are not outraged, shocked, appalled, disgusted like the rest of us, but instead STILL supportive of his candidacy?

It is a good time to be a sexist (and a racist) obviously! The sexism and misogyny that was obviously laying dormant inside the hearts of all those men who were keeping their mouths shut (at least publicly), is now finding expression and justification in Donald Trump. Donald Trump, who habitually and publicly rates women on account of their looks, age and weight; who calls them “pieces of ass”, “dogs”, “gold diggers”, “bimbos”, “fat ugly bitches” or “Miss piggies”, “disgusting” or “crazy” because they are menstruating (see: journalist Megyn Kelly)! Incidentally, on his reality show the “Apprentice” (and Americans need to be daily reminded  of the fact that a reality show star is actually running for a leader of the free World!), he suggested he would love to see a contestant “drop on her knees” to perform oral sex; while he justified sex assaults as a natural result of cohabitation between men and women; he was reported saying that he finds pregnancy to be “an inconvenience” to employers, and breastfeeding to be “disgusting”. He was also caught saying that the then 12-year-old Paris Hilton was 'attractive', and on another occasion, when he met a 10-year old girl, said he would be “dating her in ten years”. He was also recorded saying to a 14-year old that he would be dating her in two years (that is when she would be 16…) Not to mention that he once said that if Ivanka weren’ t his daughter, he would be dating her! He went on to talk about the size of her breasts, and on one occasion, he agreed with Howard Stern’s comments that his daughter is indeed a “hot piece of ass”. He also seems to never miss the chance to talk about his penis on political rallies…

Additionally, when Trump was the owner of the Miss Universe and the Miss Teen USA beauty pageants, he abused his authority and bragged that he would be sneaking unannounced in the dressing rooms to catch a look of the girls (teenagers!) naked, saying to them he was “allowed to inspect” them. When some of the girls were outraged he just told them” “Don’t worry ladies, I’ve seen it all before.” And that would make it apparently OK. He also expressed his annoyance that emphasis was being given on the fact that some  of the women who had once participated in his beauty pageants, have gone on to become doctors, and was in agreement with Howard Stern (another fine specimen of a human being) when he said that he would “rather have a retarded hot woman than a slob who's a doctor”! Trump had also called the former miss Universe Alicia Machado "Miss Piggy" because he fount her to be “fat” and "Miss Housekeeping” because she was a Latina! The Venezuelan Alicia Machado, has admitted that Trump, during the year she was crowned Miss Universe, would habitually and publicly fat shame her, forcing her to have a stringent diet and exercise regime which on one occasion, was televised without her permission, causing her self-esteem reaching a nadir point. The result of all this experience was her struggle with eating disorders for years...

Trump’ s sexism reached new levels of creepiness a few days ago of course, when a tape was made public in which he is heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, saying that he is a “star” and therefore can get away with anything, including groping by the genitals any woman he fancies. In the video, obtained by The Washington Post, he is heard to say: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’ s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’ t even wait. And when you’ re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

After the outrage this caused, he went on to issue a rare apology. Of sorts. He apologized, but at the same time explained that it was only “locker-room banter”, meaning the kind of thing men are “allowed” to say when they are alone, having their masculinity being validated in the presence of other men by their claims of sexually assaulting women…Yet it is interesting to note that despite being heavily censured by Republican leaders after the video was made public, they still support him! And regardless of the fact that his words have caused an outrage in the media, and even if many men - not just women - have publicly expressed their indignation, one wonders: how far off were his comments than what ordinary, everyday men talk about (and do for that matter)? How many of them think that groping women without their consent is in fact their “birth right” and one hell of a way to validate their masculinity? Statistics certainly reveal that they are many. As it was pointed out by Michelle Obama, it is something that most of us have experienced in some form or other. A woman being there, is enough of an invite and an excuse for many men to feel free to publicly violate her body and her dignity.

This brings to mind that famous, allegedly iconic photo depicting “the Kiss”, the shot taken at 1945, at the end of the WWII, on the V-J Day celebration, which shows a sailor tipping over his sweetheart and kissing her on the mouth. Sadly, the photo that we all held to be a symbol of romantic love, was in fact depicting sexual assault! Greta Friedman, the woman in the photo (who incidentally died recently) revealed that not only it wasn’ t the guy in the photo her sweetheart, but he was a complete stranger to her, who just felt free to grope her without her consent and kiss her, just because she was standing next to him.

 

In her words: "It wasn't my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!" George Mendosa, the guy in the photo, never considered this to be too much of a deal of course. When he was interviewed in 2012, he said: "The excitement of the war bein' over, plus I had a few drinks, So when I saw the nurse I grabbed her, and I kissed her." Why ask her right? Interestingly enough, he was there with a date, a woman who went on to become his wife, and who was there watching the whole thing herself, which adds an extra creepiness to the whole event…

The open-mouthed kiss the Fiat heir Lapo Elkann planted on the mouth of the unsuspecting and unpleasantly surprised Uma Thurman at a gala at Cannes earlier this year, or the uninvited, and forced kiss Adrien Brody gave to Halle Berry on the mouth at the 2003 Oscars, come from the same place of male entitlement.

The “I had a few drinks” is of course still a very good and popular excuse when men are sexually assaulting or raping women around the world and especially on campuses all over the USA. (Of course women who are victims of rape while being intoxicated are seen as “asking for it”) In the widely publicized case of the student Brock Turner, who assaulted and attempted to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster (before he was interrupted by 2 students who were passing by), his intoxication was used as a good excuse for his behavior. What he learned from the experience was according to what he told the judge, (who by the way, gave him a six-month sentence because he was an athlete) is “not to drink”, and NOT “not to rape”: "I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed. These things force me to never want to put myself in a position where I have to sacrifice everything." Meaning his athletic career. What it meant for the woman to be fount in such a situation is irrelevant to him or the judge. He was of course, released from jail after serving just three months…

Similarly, when a 19-year-old homeless woman was raped by a drunken man in Canada in September 2014, she was told by the judge that it was her responsibility to be more “careful”, and that she should have kept her “knees together” so that her rapist (an aggressive, 240-pound man by the way), would be “prevented” from raping her. When she talked about the physical pain caused by the assault, she was told by this sorry excuse of a judge, that "Sex and pain sometimes go together; that, that’ s not necessarily a bad thing." Sadly these are not rarities. Sexual discrimination by the juridical system is common when it comes to rape victims . It is for example quite common all over the world for judges to not hold rapists accountable for their actions, or often even justify them by shifting the blame on the sexual assault survivors.

Women on campuses all over the USA, the UK and elsewhere, are being drugged, in order to be raped while unconscious. The problem is so widespread, that in 2015, a video titled “Tea and Consent” was released by British police in order to educate men in the apparently, very difficult to grasp concept of sexual consent. It uses animated stick figures, and a cup of tea as an analogy for sex, and attempts to teach guys among other things, that “unconscious people don’ t want tea, can’ t answer the question ‘do you want tea?’ because they are unconscious”… Who knew that it needed to be said? There are a lot of Bill Cosbys out there obviously - whose accusers by the way, are 58 so far!

Women are being told to be careful, to never walk alone at night, to carry rape whistles, to not go out, to dress modestly, to avoid eye contact in public transportation, to keep their head down, to live in fear. Next to nothing is being told to men however about not raping, about it being a crime and a horrible violent act. And when they do commit this hideous crime, they get away with it more often than not.

The American singer CeeLo Green, for example, was accused of doing the same thing: of drugging a woman who woke up hours later naked in bed with him. The DA declined the rape charges and even though the singer denied the allegations, he went on to make these suspicious comments on Twitter: “If someone is passed out they’ re not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent”. Meaning if she was unconscious (never mind that she was unconscious because HE drugged her in order to rape her) then it was all OK and it wasn’ t really rape. Someone ought to remind him (since he is so into technicalities and all), that if she couldn’ t technically say “No”, she couldn’ t say “Yes” either…) After the outrage his comments have caused, he later (like many celebrities in his place) had apologised (to his fans, NOT to the woman), and deleted his Twitter account…

On average, there are 288,820 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. One out of six women in the USA has been the victim of sexual assault or rape. Like in the case of domestic violence, the statistics of course only include the number of women who come out and talk about these matters openly, and are therefore added to the lists. The unreported rapes, remain unrecorded. The numbers of women who never talk about their experiences, including the women who are raped by their husbands, (given how they are being treated by judges and police officers, not to mention their families) are assumed to be much, much higher. But it’s a global phenomenon. In 2010 alone, 100,000 rapes were recorded in Australia, 200,000 in Egypt, 85000 in Britain, and as many as 500,000 in South Africa!

Things are worse in Third World countries and the Moslem world, like say in Afghanistan, where when a married woman is raped and dares to report the crime, she can be legally prosecuted and charged with adultery (like it was her fault), a crime that is punishable by death! (So she can end up dead too!) If she is single, she may become the victim of an “honor killing”, as in be killed by her own family because she brought “shame” to them (by being a victim of a horrible assault!), or more commonly, will be forced to marry her rapist and by this, give him the “chance” to extinguish his crime!!! (It is interesting to note that the Criminal Code of many countries support - or at least until fairly recently - supported this practise. In Italy for example, this article of law was still in use up until 1981, when it was finally abolished!)

In Bangladesh, Egypt and other places, women who turn to the police for help after they have been raped, are additionally forced to go through the humiliation and added sexual assault of the "two-finger test" by doctors and often plain police officers, which “determines” whether or not a woman is "habituated to sex". If she had had sex before, she is therefore considered to be “guilty” and her rapist seen as innocent and justified…

In the Arab world, just walking in the street while being female, is an open invitation for men. If the women report the assaults, or merely mention them to their families, they are of course accused for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, wearing the wrong thing, and therefore asking for it. Which is what keeps women hidden away, wrapped in their nigabs, and their hijabs, and their veils and their burkas. What Westerners don’ t seem to understand, is that many women cover themselves willingly, not simply out of religious notions, but in order to become invisible, to be left alone. To walk from point A to point B, without being attacked. Their veils are cover ups, are war tactics, are camouflage. (Because they live constantly in a war zone). For most of them, being covered is a matter of survival. They want to blend in, to be unrecognizable. Their beauty, shape and age undetected by gropers and rapers and murderers who consider it their right to assault them daily just because they are walking down the street, for being “arrogant” and “shameless” and “disrespectful” enough to be out of their home/prison, or God forbid, be without a male escort, but mostly for existing in the world! For not being males! (this being their biggest, and most unforgivable of sins!)

What would it take for things to change? For men to somehow reverse hundreds, thousands of years of misogynistic programming, and miraculously evolve so that they see women as human beings, (instead of body parts, and their rightful possessions)? One would think that it would take a revolution! And the Arab Spring was supposed to bring that about, among other things. To change not just the lives of people, but their perceptions, and their attitudes towards women. This is what all those women hoped for, and struggled to achieve, as they left their homes (a bravery in itself) and stood there beside men, shouting for freedom and liberty, in places like the Tahrir Square, in Egypt. But sadly, by the end of the day, it was made painfully obvious to them that things would not change for them. There would be no freedom for them, no liberty, no end to their life-sentence. In the midsts of celebration, the women present were subjected to mob sexual assaults, harassment or gang rapes. Hundreds of men would go after one single lone woman, surrounding her in what have been called by women “circle of hell”, taking their turns. The few who dared to report they have been assaulted, were forced to endure further assault by police officers who needed to personally “check” their virginity, because in that world, only a virgin can be raped of course…

Any large gatherings where women can be fount in the Muslim world, can easily end up with them being in the middle of these “circles of hell”. But Muslim men are not the only ones who would do such things. On December 31 2014, for example, many women in Germany experienced this nightmare, just because they were out, and in the proximity of men. 1,200 women and girls (aged from nine to 79!) were sexually abused in German cities during New Year's Eve celebrations, by 1,000 drunk and aggressive men. It is interesting to note that according to “leaked reports” published by the DailyMail, only about half of the perpetrators, were foreign nationals (see: Arab refugees) In short, let us not be quick to see this as a problem relating to the Islam alone… Western men aren’t above all that, given the opportunity…

Besides, isn’t fear the feeling you are most likely to feel if you are a woman of any nationality, fount alone, in a large gathering of men of ANY nationality? Who can deny it? Don’t we all, even the strongest and bravest among us, keep that fear always at hand? Haven’ t we all been scared on some night returning home, walking in an empty street, or a park, minding our business working late in an empty office, or walking towards our car in an empty parking lot, being in a deserted beach, entering a Taxi late at night, being in an elevator with a stranger, or travelling alone? Don’ t we leave the lights on when we are alone, keep a friend’ s number on speed dial, or worry a bit when we go on a first date with a guy we just met? (And statistics say that we DO have grounds to worry...)  Don’t we all take precautions we hope will keep us safe, and which we have come to consider natural, part of our routines, part of our lives as women? Isn’t that proof that our lives, though indeed in many ways different than the lives of our Muslim sisters, are not as different as we would have liked to believe? We are free to walk in the street, but not completely without danger. We are free to live as we choose, but not quite…

Before we feel dismay mixed with feelings of superiority when we are thinking about the horrible experiences of the women hoping for a revolution and finding abuse on Tahrir Square, we need to be reminded that the same thing happened to American women (and some underage girls) on many of the Occupy Wall Street camps! In fewer numbers yes, but it did happen! Just because some women fount themselves alone among large groups of men. That’s all it takes… And again, if we think street harassment (the “milder” of abuses) characterizes only Arab, Mediterranean or third world countries, we only need to read some to the experiences written by women from many Western countries (25 so far!) in the “Everyday Sexism Project” http://everydaysexism.com that is becoming like a huge data-base of the daily humiliations and public violations that are faced by countess women around the world.

So it is therefore quite understandable that when Donald Trump spews misogynistic aphorisms with uncensored abandon, the many men who support him are still impressed by him! You can easily imagine a collective sign of relief, satisfaction and appreciation coming out of the mouth of countless men who think exactly like him, but thought they were not supposed to reveal it publicly. (Not after the fifties anyway…) And here is this guy who gives the impression that he has been living in a (possibly golden) cave somewhere, and had never heard of political correctness and Women’ s Rights and plain, common decency. Here is this guy who says all the things they were thinking all along! How could he not be popular, I ask you?

Besides, it is EXACTLY the same way of thinking that is expressed in the Rap music culture (some fine examples here: http://elitedaily.com/music/music-news/the-20-most-misogynist-lines-in-rap-history/) and also by most male, Internationally acclaimed stand up comics working in the English speaking world. All the good ones, all the highly intelligent, and exceptionally talented ones (from Eddie Murphy, and Bill Hicks, to Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., Bill Burr, Chris Rock, Jim Jefferies, and Kevin Hart, even early Trevor Noah), have bits where they talk obsessively (Oh boy, is it obsessively!!!) about these things: how women are nothing but bodies in their eyes, and the countless ways in which they want to fuck them; how they feel like every woman is a gold digger; how they feel every woman they fancy ought to replicate every single humiliation they have ever watched pornstars endured for a pay check, preferably with the same kind of fake enthusiasm; how they love ejaculating all over their their face (because what is a male orgasm without that added kick of humiliating a woman with the most disgusting of ways?); how they are (just like Trump) constantly rating women in their mind, comparing them, hating them for every imperfection, obsessing about their various body parts, hoping these were not attached to a person, a human being with thoughts and needs and views and self respect. How they hate them when they are “bitches” (say “No” to them); and how they loath them when they are “whores” (say “Yes” to them); how they despise them when they are “ball breakers” (intelligent, well educated, articulate and with opinions of their own); and how they can't stand them when they are feminists (not good sports when it comes to rape jokes...) How they judge all women primarily on account of their weight, age, and the size of their boobs and behinds; how they lust over them regardless if they are underage, or on occasion, their blood relatives. How they feel like they have (or at least ought to have) the right to grope them whenever they feel like it. And of course, how much they really REALLY wish they lived in the time when they could hit them and not get in trouble. This in fact, seems to be a very, VERY strong and common need in most men, if we take into account the comedians’ s perspective. And you feel like they do strike some sensitive chords, some hidden, collective, primal masculine need, as you hear the room pulsating with wild laughter, and you see row after row of men nodding in deep appreciation and inner gratification. The same sort of gratification that a certain – by the looks of it, a big – percentage of men feel when they hear Trump talk about women.

What is even more disappointing, is how many women often react when the news of events relating to sexual harassment or assault reach them. There is, it seems among women, an underlying fear that should they comment negatively about misogyny, they would automatically be branded as “man-hating bitches” or (The horror! The horror!) “feminists”! Whenever the news of sexual assault, harassment and discrimination against women reaches their Facebook news feed for example, or they come upon them anywhere on the Internet, they seem to feel the need to express in comments along with their dismay, their assurance that “not all men are like that”, that “the men in their life are by no means like that”, and “This has never happened to me personally”, and also that “these things happen to men too”. Nobody claimed that these things don't happen (to a small percentage of) men too (by other men!). And nobody mentioned their husbands, why are THEY bringing them up?

This is an issue that needs to be addressed. We don’ t rush to add whenever we are faced with news about a guy who steals cars, or kills kittens that “hey, not all men steal cars you know!” or “hey, my husband never killed any kittens, all right?” It is assumed, you know what I mean? And therefore it does not ne