|Photo credit: AP/Fortune|
Every woman alive knows personally or knows about those puffy-chested, foul-mouthed, egotistical bullies who hike up their big, bad britches and talk trash about having loads of fun with our private parts. Until now, not a single one of them ended up being a major party's candidate for President of the United States. That's a new one.
Ever since Donald Trump swept the primaries in June and stepped up his awesomely awful reign of terror, I've been doing a lot of hand-wringing, mainly on Facebook, admitting for all the world to see that this guy Trump, a nothingburger in ways too many to count, was scaring the bejeesus out of me. I've been horrified, terrified, scarified and very nearly petrified.
I'm a woman who came of age in the 1950s. My looks were nothing extraordinary but I've had my share of "accidental" brushes against my breasts, unwelcome nuzzles and attempts at kisses, and, yes, of outright gropes.
Countless times I've heard the kinds of suggestive words clueless, stupid men and boys apparently believe are all it takes to turn us on.
I doubt there are many women who have been lucky enough to sidestep any of it. It happens. But I think it's safe to say this is the first time in our history a known serial groper and admitted sexual predator has come this close to becoming President of the United States. (Okay, stop. Don't even go there. Bill Clinton may have been a low-life serial philanderer in his younger days but he didn't mic up and brag about it; he didn't make it an essential part of who he is. He was impeached. He paid a price, and for all I know it cured him.)
But back to Trump: As of this day and yesterday and the day before, he's hemorrhaging voters and donors and party leaders as fast as the slime will flow. He has taken to sniffing and stalking and threatening to jail his opponent as soon as he dons his robes and takes the throne. He's threatening to sue the growing numbers of women who are accusing him of gross indecency. He's threatening to sue the New York Times for using his own actions to condemn him. He's making noises against the First Amendment, trying to scare off the press.
He blames everyone, but he mainly blames women, and for once he's right. We are working to take him down. No mystery. Oh, he still has his female followers--those women who will stand next to a guy wearing a tee shirt that says "She's a Cunt" and smile at the camera, those women who wear the title "Trump supporter" and, no matter what, will defend him with a grin. But, thank Hera, they're in the minority. The rest of us are working to take Donald Trump down. To take him down.
Just before Donald Trump was seen last week stalking around the stage channeling Benito Mussolini, conjuring up New World Order conspiracies, calling out his accusers, our First Lady, Michelle Obama, gave the speech of her life, talking in exquisitely painful language about sexual predation (without mentioning names), and the effect it has on women:
This is not something that we can ignore. It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a "lewd conversation." This wasn't just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.It happens. And it's not just Donald Trump, it's every man who sees a woman's body as a mindless, soulless playground; it's every man who goes into government believing a woman's body is his to legislate.
And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn't an isolated incident. It's one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life. And I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally, and I'm sure that many of you do too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.
It is cruel. It's frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It's like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
It's that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they've said no but he didn't listen — something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.
But I can't leave this page without acknowledging the millions of men who get it, who are outraged by Donald Trump's words and actions, and who are speaking out. You are our greatest allies, our heroes, the loves of our lives. You are our husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, friends. You energize us. It's our fight but we couldn't do this without you.
(Click here to watch Michelle Obama's remarkable speech in its entirety.)
(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks and Liars)