If we were honest this is what we would we say to young girls listening to Donald Trump’s comments:
I’m sorry. Not because I am responsible for what he says and does but because It’s not really unusual. Some men say these things and worse. They say them in songs, to one another, on TV, in movies. For some men, women are a thing. To get. To get over on. To have. To own. To buy. To assault. To handle. To hit. To nail. To move on. To get on top of. To them – you are a thing. They can go through the motions of treating you like a person. Shake your hand. Smile at you while they think “I’d like to hit that”. But when they feel that they are amongst friends or buddies or bros or pals they will fling out their brutality as brag points and receive cheers for their “conquests” / assaults.
In your lifetime, at some point, a man or more than one will do exactly what Donald Trump bragged about. I don’t know what position of power he will hold over you – A boss. A mentor. A loan officer. An admissions official. A professor. A stranger next to you on the bus or train. A relative you trust. A police officer. A doctor. Maybe he’ll just be older and “cooler”. He will grab you wherever he wants. Any part of your body. You are a thing to be taken and he will take whatever he’s after – and he’s after the thing that, when he tells it later, will earn him the most high fives. The bro cheers. If he says anything to you at all, he will refer to you as a thing. Will say something like “I’d really like to fuck this.”, as he puts his hand up your skirt.
If you speak up about it. People you tell may or may not believe you. Often the people you would tell are also men and even if they believe you they will be angry – at you – for putting them in position where they might have to call out another man. And some women – who know in their guts – that you are telling the truth will be angry at you too. Not because they think you are lying – but because they want to go on believing they can control whether or not they are assaulted. Because if you can’t prevent it, maybe they can’t either. And that’s an unbearable thought.
You will walk down the street exactly as prey walks through the woods, under the gaze of predatory men who see you as a piece. To be grabbed and dragged home as a trophy.
This will make you feel sick. In situations where you should be happy and excited. You will be apprehensive when you should be thrilled. Your own beauty will be called out as the cause of your assault. When the spotlight is on you, you know that predators can see you better and rather than relish the opportunity, you will cringe.
There are so many men that could never do any of these things. They aren’t capable of uttering the words that Trump spoke to his buddy or even laughing along like Billy did. They could never grab a woman as if she were a piece or a thing. They’ve heard it / but it’s just not who they are. They are strong, loving, courageous men. But if a boy or man will say what Trump said, they will also act upon it. If they speak about any woman in this way they will speak about you this way. If they will grab any woman as if she were a thing, then one day they will look at you and realize they can do the same thing or worse.
This must be so scary. You must wonder how you will respond. You may find that you smile and move on. Because it would better for you to pretend it didn’t happen – so you can breathe, so you don’t have to wonder how you caused it. And you will feel you caused it. In some small way you will want it to be your fault because that means there is something you can do to prevent it in the future. You may find yourself at some point wanting to be seen so badly that being seen as a piece is better than being obliterated completely. All of these reactions are coping reactions to a harsh reality.
The reality of being a person in the body of a woman in the world we live in today.
This won’t stop until men stop it.