“Locker Room Talk” Building Trump's Second Wall
Trump fences in feminists with damaging sexist remarks
When I encounter Donald Trump supporters (which happens rarely, as I spend most of my time some of the most progressive areas of California), I find myself voicing my distaste for the president in every way possible. How could you possibly support…that? From his orange face to his incomprehensible, racist tweets, Trump’s character reflects the opposite of how our nation should be represented.
But more and more, these people I encounter tend to hit me with questions about his policies—how much do I know about what he’s really working on or what his goals are for America? While I know some, I have to admit, I’m less educated than I should be about the political part of Trump’s presidency than the character part.
Upon realizing this, my yapping anti-Trump mouth remained hushed a little more than usual. His supporters had a point: I shouldn’t be advertising my opinion when I am relatively uneducated about his policies, especially as a Berkeley student surrounded by a highly political atmosphere. I vowed to start paying attention to the political news and government instead of the memes and tweets and become a more well-rounded debater.
Pretty soon, the tabloids took over and I again found myself consumed with the seemingly superficial remarks Trump has made during widely broadcasted interviews and in published texts. I know I should be debating about what legislation Trump has influenced while he has been in office, but I still cannot get over the incident in which he insulted a female news reporter by claiming she had “blood coming out of her wherever.”
This is one of myriad of misogynistic remarks Trump has sprinkled throughout his personal and professional conversations. Though he has been widely criticized for his demeaning, sexist language, it continues to be a hallmark of his personality. These statements range from telling a woman in 2005, “I bet you make a great wife,” to saying women should be punished for having abortions. He once calling a female journalist a dog, and later suggested 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina would lose because of her face. President Trump continually degrades women based on their looks.
These comments alone are damaging enough, but the political ramifications of both the comments and the dogma behind them is far worse. Some of his political decisions include attacking Planned Parenthood and cutting funding for organizations working to preventing teen pregnancies. Additionally, Trump’s comments are impacting both men and women in his sphere of influence. A study conducted by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where Trump studied, observed that male participants behaved more aggressively towards women after Trump won the presidency compared to before.
As an avid feminist, Trump’s petty remarks began to get under my skin several years ago, and they continue to bother me as I am passionate about women’s rights and supporting the women in my community. While I was watching the Golden Globes in January, I admired each actress’s explanation for why she was wearing a black gown to the event; the overall message was to show strength and support in the face of sexual assault in Hollywood. This tied into Time’s Up, the legal defense fund for victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, as well as #MeToo, a viral hashtag shared by victims on Twitter.
After watching the awards show, I was driving and it hit me: my feelings toward Trump are completely and utterly valid. It is inappropriate for a candidate who encourages other men to “grab women by the pussy,” a.k.a. non-consensually touch women’s vaginas, to represent our country, because the ideals he upholds affect the hundreds of millions of women who live in America. Donald Trump personifies what so many sexual assault movements are fighting against: men who think they have the right to exert control and judgment over women’s bodies.
The current President of the United States has been called out for his objectification of women many more times than his supporters would probably like to admit. And it doesn’t even stop there—he has made it clear he’s all for the sexist stereotypes about women that feminists have been tirelessly working to eliminate for decades. He once said in an interview with ABC News, “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.” He also compared women to buildings in one of his business books (Trump 101: The Way to Success): “Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see.”
Not only has he applied this kind of medieval thinking to the women he works with and interacts with on the job, but he has made objectifying comments about his own daughter, stating “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” For every woman wearing black at the Golden Globes, there is probably an anti-feminist remark Trump has made about women on air. And what does he say when he’s called out on this? It’s “locker room talk.” So it’s okay to say these things about women to other men, only perpetuating the culture of objectifying women that leads to issues like sexual assault? This is exactly the kind of thinking that obstructs progress on the sexual assault front.
Setting actions aside, Trump’s words alone embody the antithesis of the feminist movement. He once tweeted that 26,000 reported sexual assaults in the military were a result of intersexual mingling: “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” If that doesn’t scream sexual predator to you, I don’t know what does.
The point is, this kind of behavior should not be tolerated whatsoever in a society ostensibly aiming for acceptance and progressiveness when it comes to women. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that affects our entire population, directly or indirectly, and I am proud that so many of us stand together on different platforms to show our support. But we can only get so far if the man leading our nation embodies exactly what we are trying to avoid.
Though I might not know much about Trump’s political action, I know that the way he portrays himself as an individual matters just as much. His immense (and growing) collection of sexist and anti-feminist comments reflects what he values as an individual, and by electing him, we are showing the rest of the world that we value those things as well. Everyone is allowed to have and share an opinion, whatever that may be. That’s the basis of free speech! Until we realize that Trump’s impact on our nation and the rest of the world also depends on his image, we can only get so far.