Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain of churlishness. He does not want you to have that conversation – the one most of us are already having – about those who are so cowardly and narcissistic that they belittle the harm they inflict, preferring to say it is a problem of the victim’s perception.
Millions of Americans and others around the world have heard the man under the orange hair ,with a sneer for most of the world bragging about his sexual batteries of women. He dismissed the conversation as “locker room talk,” and that shows the level of his discourse, his thought, and his soul.
Calling it “locker room talk” probably seemed like both a pre-emptive strike and a defensive move, snagging in others who use coarse words and foreclosing further discussion.
But he did not count on his victims or other victims speaking out and changing the conversation. His bragging reverberated in the lives of millions of women who have suffered from groping, unwanted touching or kissing – or worse. The flood of hurt, humiliation, and fear that this callous phrase hoped to mask has inundated social media, conventional media, universities and dining rooms. Canadian author Kelly Oxford’s challenge “tweet me your first assault” evoked more than 50 million responses in a matter of days.
And this is just the most recent round of accusations of abuse by those in power against those whom they were supposed to respect, and in some cases, protect.
People who are unable or unwilling to control appetites for sexual predation have no place in a civilized society.
Jim Huenink, Executive Director of the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault, (Northwest CASA), said, “The notion that boys will be boys just doesn’t work anymore, when the victims have intrusive memories and nightmares around what happened to them.” The issue, he said, is sexual assault; and he finds it “outrageous” that we’re considering a presidential candidate that, amongst other qualities, is being accused of groping and fondling.”
First Lady Michelle Obama said in a speech on Oct. 14 that the previous Tuesday she had spent several hours with young girls from all around the world as part of “Let Girls Learn.” These girls, she said, “have faced unthinkable obstacles just to attend school, jeopardizing their personal safety, their freedom, risking the rejection of their families and communities. … I wanted them to understand that the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls. And I told them that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them, and that they should make their voices heard in the world.”
Saying she was shaken by the tape released earlier this month in which the Republican presidential candidate used vulgar language to describe some of his sexual exploitation, Ms. Obama said, “This has got to stop right now. … In our hearts, we all know that if we let Hillary’s opponent win this election, then we are sending a clear message to our kids that everything they’re seeing and hearing is perfectly O.K. We are validating it. We are endorsing it. … We’re telling our sons that it’s O.K. to humiliate women. We’re telling our daughters that this is how they deserve to be treated. We’re telling all our kids that bigotry and bullying are perfectly acceptable in the leader of their country.”
Speaking in a larger and non-political context in her address at the YWomen awards on Oct. 13, YWCA Evanston North Shore President and CEO Karen Singer said one aspect of a just community is having confidence that all women and families are safe at home, in their relationships, and on our streets.
The conversation did not begin with Donald Trump. It might have begun with Bill Cosby, or Dennis Hastert, or the many Catholic priests who raped, assaulted and traumatized children for decades – or even before then. But it is becoming louder and stronger, as more people are willing to identify sexual aggression and assault for what they are and to speak out against these things.
The brute behind the curtain of narcissism can just continue to listen to his own voice on a pathetically stuck record.